Hard SATS reading test leaves children in tears

Some teachers claim pupils couldn't even finish the exam because it was so tough

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 Are your kids taking SATs this week? Did they sit the reading test that is causing so much controversy?

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Teachers have been telling the press that it was a ‘demoralising’ experience for some children, and so difficult that some pupils we left crying and unable to complete it.

The Times Educational Supplement (TES) claims that teachers themselves branded the exam ‘incredibly difficult’, ‘ridiculous’ and ‘bloody tough’.

One said the written texts themselves weren’t so bad, but the “questions and the wording of them (vocabulary etc) was like something I have never seen before”.

Another told the paper that they’d had a child in floods of tears within minutes of the exam being handed out because it was just so difficult.

“The questions were ridiculously hard from the start and I had a child in tears within five minutes, because, in her words, ‘I don’t understand the questions.’ This wasn’t even a less able child,” the teacher said. 

These new tests ARE harder though, and have been made so to reflect the changes in the national curriculum.

The Department for Education reckons the new standard would be set at around the old level 4b – and that 80 per cent of pupils achieved that level in reading last year.

And despite the Government’s claims, there is a lot of concern that children are expected to exceed this mark, with some school staff saying the test was more suited to 15-year-olds than the 10 and 11-year-olds it was written for.

And even kids who had done well in the sample test seemed to be struggling with Monday’s actual paper.

“Children who had succeeded previously in the ‘sample’ test were sobbing! More able not finishing. If ever a test was set up to prepare children to fail, this was it,” one primary school teacher told the TES. 

The Department for Education insists the paper was prepared in the same way as the practice exam, and was more or less the same in terms of difficulty:

“The 2016 reading test was developed in the same way as the sample test. Trialling of the 2016 test showed that the difficulty of the paper was broadly similar,” a spokesperson said.

They added that the papers should not be stressing kids out  – and exist only to help teachers keep a track on progress and identify and problems early on.

“These tests should not be a cause of stress for pupils ‎- they help teachers make sure children are learning to read, write and add up well.

“The truth is if they don’t master literacy and numeracy early on, they risk being held behind and struggling for the rest of their lives – we are determined to prevent this by helping every child reach their full potential,” the spokesperson insisted.

What do you think? How are your kids coping this week? Are they taking it all in their stride? Are you playing it down to ensure they do not get stressed out? Or do you think the tests are unnecessary and a waste of time for such young children? 

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