National curriculum tests, also known by a lot of people as SATs (though this is actually a legacy name rather than what they are now officially called), are tests taken towards the end of years 2 and 6 in UK schools. Here, we take a look at three things parents should know about SATs:
SATs Measure Performance Against A National Average
The purpose of SATs is to have every child at the end of an important educational key stage sit the same test, so that a national average for the peer group can be calculated, and so each child can see where they compare to the national standard. The scoring system then takes a score of 100 as the standard, and this is what pupils are expected to reach. Scores over or under 100 are shown as where they compare to the average, so a child can have their score ranked as ‘high average’, for example, or ‘well above average’.
Other statistical measures are included in the results you will get for your child in their SATs. These will show you a ‘true score’, which is a range that takes their actual score and applies some maths to it to give a range of scores that there is a high degree of confidence your child fits within. There is also a score that weighs your child based on their age in years and months, so if your child is among the youngest or oldest kids in their year, you can see how they compare to others the same age, which can take away some of the perceived unfairness of testing young children who are developing at a fast rate against those who may be a significant number of months older or younger but in the same educational year.
SATs Can Be Stressful for Kids
SATs are somewhat controversial, with some people believing that they put too much pressure on children and focus too much on comparing kids to one another. However, being able to get a picture of how children are performing compared to their peers with tests that are done by the majority of pupils nationwide is important in helping teachers at a school level know how individual children are progressing and where they may need extra help. It is also important at a national level in allowing policymakers to understand how the current education system is performing.
Luckily, there are many different practice tests that can be used to help students of all ages get used to tests, and also to prepare for their SATs. This helps you work with your child to help them feel comfortable and ready for the tests when they come around. There is no pass or fail for the SATs, but children can still feel pressure to perform at the national standard, and kids who excel at school may also begin to feel competitive about being expected to achieve the highest possible score. Being aware of how the SATs work can help you support your child and help them get ready for the tests, as well as helping them avoid test-related anxiety.
SATs Focus on Maths and English
The standardised SATs tests focus on maths and English, but the testing period will also include some teacher assessments which will include some other subjects like sciences for the year 6 pupils. The teacher assessments at both year 2 and year 6 will also assess the children on things like speaking skills.
If your child is going to be sitting standardised national curriculum tests soon, make sure you know as much as you can about the testing approach and the results, so you can help your child get through the tests and also have the best understanding of what their results mean.
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