There is an interesting report in yesterday’s Schools Week here about the Standards and Testing Agency’s refusal to release details of this year’s KS2 SATs marking guidance.

Rejecting a request for this to happen [read article for full details] the STA apparently argued that to do so would cause students and teachers stress [?] and would be highly likely to be misunderstood [??!].

One could have an easy go at the cruel irony of any government agency of any testing regime being concerned about teacher/pupil stress levels, but the deeper irony is surely the observation that such guidance would likely be misunderstood.

It wouldn’t’ take a KS2 student too much trouble to extrapolate that this also means those who did the actual marking will have been stumped by the guidance. These of course will be teachers – I can understand the need, but I’ve always thought it shameful – but if teachers who administer the tests cannot follow the guidance, then…..

That was the extrapolation. Full marks. One of the few aspects of a KS2 English GPS that would so easily get a full score, especially if it was alternatively the guidance on the shape of any semi-colons used, which abject nonsense this year led to the request for publication of this guidance.

I’ve retained a trenchant and sustained objection over the years, and on this blog, to the KS2 English GPS and previously SPaG testing because its discrete focus on language elements does little to promote and then test [assess] effective writing, but also because by that very discrete nature the marking guidance becomes prescriptive – where elements of language cannot be so defined, in most real-life situations – and therefore, by extrapolation, punitive and brutal.

Whilst never having had to teach the KS2 SATs, I did teach and then consequently have to challenge on a number of occasions the English KS3 SATs before they were rightly, if belatedly, scrapped. These too had marking guidance which was fundamentally flawed because it gave definitive answers in mark schemes for markers to employ. To state the obvious: this meant that rich diversity of possible answers which evidenced that rich diversity of totally accurate alternatives could not be credited.

The fact that English teachers as markers allowed this barbed-wire enclosure of answers to restrict and contain what should be their broad professional acceptance of the infinite variety of meanings is…..



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