More thoughts on the SATs – are they the best or worst thing for our children? (Part 2)

Welcome back…continuing from the Part 1 post on Saturday…

…Sir Ken Robinson has suggested home schooling as a way to avoid the test-oriented culture of schooling. The Let the Kids Be Kids organisation is urging parents to bow out of SATs because they, well, don’t let kids be kids and have a negative childhood experience, jumping from one mentally exhausting testing situation to another.

There is no doubt that tests are a part of schooling in many countries. Tests can even push students along to the next milestone, without them learning much. What if, however, you are a pupil from a working-class background, without the advantage of a stereotypical upper middle class culture of reading or writing? What if you are dyslexic or autistic, and do not have the tools or the help that you need to ace exams?

What happens to such students?

In one sense, with more and more parents across the country choosing to spare their children the rigours of the SATs, it actually blurs the boundary between pupils who will not do well in tests versus those who simply choose not to take them. Perhaps all students who would not pass such tests with little effort should not take them. No testing till the GCSEs.

How would such children get into schools that are a good fit for them? Even if you move to a good school area, if the rest of the pupils who live there have SAT scores that you don’t have you might not get in. It would mean that once again, you are being penalised by a poor education system.

However, unless children sit tests of some sort, we wouldn’t know how much they have learnt. Unless there was a yardstick to measure against, pupils could go years in terrible schools that do not have to show any sort of learning. What kind of educational system would that look like?

I think if you find your child struggling to sit exams, pulling them out of it is not really doing them any favours. The answer might be to beat the game with its own rules. Teaching to the test does not have to be stressful or even against learning philosophy. It is a skill that can be learnt, just like learning to serve at tennis or creating art to exhibit.

Reading with your child and giving them good tutoring, are two ways that you give your child tools to succeed in this world today, rather than protecting them from it. Take every opportunity to read and learn with your child, whether it is a book evening without telly or a road trip. Life can be full of teaching and learning opportunities if you can just prepare for them and make them a priority.

A good tutor will know the kinds of things tests ask for, and ensure that your child prepares for them with the minimal amount of stress and tension. This is especially true if they have special needs or a fear of exams. A tutor with patience and experience can make sure that they counter the lack of personalised support  that schools provide, plus ensure that students are more comfortable and confident not just in their SATs but in everyday school life as well.

Think about it. Let me know your opinion. This is a discussion worth having.


Elisa x