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SATS! - A Daunting Educational Yardstick

By Noel Swanson

The Dreaded SATS - A Teenagers Nightmare!

Well, here we are again facing the dreaded standardized achievement tests (SATS). Everyone involved is a bundle of nerves. The head teacher wants to look good on the national league tables. The other teachers want to make a good impression. The poor children, everyone keeps telling them how important the tests are, so they are panicked about not doing well enough.

Some children, of course, love tests and exams. But most would be quite happy to do without them, and some get so stressed by them that it can affect all areas of their lives - and their parents too! So, if you child is one of these, what can you do to help?

Standardized Achievement Tests (SATS) were created to assess schools. The government wanted to find out how well children are doing as a whole, and how well each school is performing. They start by testing a child at age 7 to establish a baseline score. They are tested again when they are 11. The difference in scores is known as the "value added", and refers to how much the child has learned in four years. The goal is to raise the education level among eleven year olds. The SATS allow the government to measure how well they're doing.

Most likely your question as a parent is "How does this score apply to my child?". Actually, it doesn't. The SATS don't relate to individual children. When your child moves into secondary school, that school will do its own assessment. They don't even use the SATS in their teaching plans. The SATS levels (scores) are very broad and don't really address how well your child is or isn't doing. Let's assume that your 11 year-old child scores a 4, which is average. You still don't know if it's a high or low average. You probably won't be surprised if he scores higher or lower. Parents and teachers generally know without the SATS if a child is ahead or behind his classmates. In other words his SATS scores won't have any bearing on his education.

By now you are probably wondering what to tell your child if she's worrying about the SATS. Make it clear to her that it's the school being tested, not her. Whatever her level, it won't really matter. Tell her to just do the best that she can, but don't coerce her in any way to study or practice for it. She'll have plenty of tests in her life that will make a difference in her life.

If you don't convince her, then talk to her teacher. Find out how she explains the SATS to her class. You can work together to reassure your child that she doesn't need to worry.

Any time that you are worried about how your child is performing in school, always talk to the instructor or even the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) or head teacher. There is no point in worrying without taking steps to allay your fears.

About The Author
Dr. Noel Swanson runs a very interesting website on parenting", so if you are needing any help with your children it might be worth a visit.


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