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The Pursuit Of Mediocrity by fatsally.
SATS test, introduced in 1993, were supposed to meaure a pupil's progress through the education system from junior to senior school and ensure every child was fulfilling their potential. Now we see the government constantly lowering standards in order to ensure enough pupils from each school are reaching government imposed targets.

The Pursuit Of Mediocrity
by fatsally.
2008-08-06
CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: children, child, school, schools, pupil, SATS, education, tests, english, maths, science, targets, government,classroom

The Sats results for pupils at KS2 and KS3 were finally published yesterday, amidst continuing grumblings about the marking process. This follwed hot on the heels of news that secondary schools regularly re-test the children when they enter Y7 as they have found that the grades they receive at KS2 are not compatible with the childs performance generally.

A further concern is that the number of children attaining Level 5, the highest level available to a child sitting a KS2 paper, has dropped.

This has led to concerns that brighter children are being neglected.

Too damn right they are. When Labour came to power in 1997 Tony Blair said his priorities were,"Education, education education." The first attempt to get over 75% of pupils achieving level 4 in each of the core subjects was quite simply to lower the pass mark on the papers and make the questions easier.

When SATS were first introduced in 1993 it was impossible to get a Level 4 on the English reading paper without answering what are termed 'higher order questions' where to answer correctly a child would have to form an opinion, or read between the lines and give reasons for their answers. All this changed after 1997, it became possible to achieve the pass mark, which was lower anyway, just by answering multiple choice questions, or simple comprehension type questions.

The same applies to Maths and Science where children were expected to be able to explain how they worked out an answer, how they would solve a problem, design an experiment or draw conclusions from a set of data.

However having instigated this change it was still not enough to achieve the target the government had set itself. So then they brought in booster classes. Teachers were asked to identify those children who were at a predicted level 3A or 3B, and these children were given extra tuition, funded by the government, in an effort to boost them up to level 4.

In many cases thase children would be removed from the ordinary class to be taught separately, in small groups, whereas the other kids, now the ones from both ends of the ability range, were left in the classroom.

But the trouble with cramming is that it just doesn't stick. It's OK if you've got the knowledge there, but if you are trying to get the knowledge in in the first place that is a different kettle of fish, so even though some of the children improved enough to get that coveted level 4 more often than not it wasn't a genuine improvement, as the secondary teachers soon noted.

Now, 11 years down the line education is once again in turmoil, this year's SATS ara a fiasco and standards do not seem to improve, only 61% of children who took SATS this year achieved Level 4 in all three subjects. Meanwhile the brighter kids get bored and are turned off education, cruising along without ever being challenged, because despite Mr. Blair's belief that sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors could convince the public that things were changing it should now be obvious to anyone who cares to look that the only change has been the pursuit of mediocrity at the expense of excellence.

A COUPLE OF MONTHS have passed since fatsally posted this blog and now we read a post in The Guardian that under the title The Truth About Our Schools restates most of what our writer says about education policy imposing mediocrity. As usual it takes a while but mainstream media eventually catches up with Little Nicky Machiavelli and Boggart Blog

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