Seven percent. It doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? Seven percent. It’s neither here nor there – quite insignificant, in most instances. However, Key Stage 1 SATs are not ‘most instances’. And a seven percent hike in the expected reading score is significant. Expecting children to get just over half the questions right (last year’s expected 55%) is very different to expecting them to get almost two thirds of the questions right (this year’s 62%). Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that there may be some anxiety floating around at the moment regarding this increase. Teachers who have spent hours industriously marking, sorting and calculating their children’s scores, probably using last year’s conversion tables as an indicator of the number of ‘expected’ grades they have probably achieved, are now being forced to reduce that number of ‘expected’ attainers. That’s never a good feeling.
So what can we do? Well, we can’t change the conversion tables, sadly. That’s not within our control. We can’t change the scores for this year’s cohort of children. We can’t go back in time and force our past selves not to calculate the percentage of ‘expected’ grades based on last year’s figures and save ourselves the disappointment of having to lower that percentage. What we can do is plan for the future. We can’t know how difficult the tests will be or what the scaled scores will look like next year. What we can do is redouble our efforts (stellar though I am confident they have been) to support next year’s children in producing their best work in the next round of tests and to support this cohort moving forwards in their reading. It’s really all we can do. We have to ensure that we are giving our very best to our children and providing them with the skills they need to – yes, OK, pass the test – but more importantly, to enjoy their reading and to want to nurture and hone their reading skills until they are as good as they can be.
Higher test boundaries may feel like a message telling us that we need to redouble our efforts towards stricter and more traditionally ‘academic’ methods of teaching. It’s easy to think that we can’t play games and have fun with learning when the goalposts are changing and becoming harder to score in. However, let’s remember what it is we want to produce in our classrooms. We want readers who are confident, enthused, engaged, imaginative – remember, the imagination is what will support children in those all-important prediction and inference skills. We want readers who have fun with stories and who want to go home and practice, because they just can’t put their books down at the end of the day. We want readers whose reading SATs can showcase their skills, because they’re so proud of their attainment that they want to show it off. This is the attitude we are all aiming to engender in our children, I have no doubt. So let’s keep on keeping on, take this one on the chin, and remember that a child who loves to learn is a child who will learn and a child who has learned to love learning is a child who will fly – through their SATs, through their schooling and through their lives.
TT Education’s Raising Attainment in Reading course is packed with fun, engaging and practical tips to help young learners develop their skills and teach them to love reading.
Published on 12 December 2019