It's time again for the dreaded and stress inducing SATS. Teachers and students alike are stressing. The principal or head teacher wants to look good on the national league tables. The teachers want everyone to know that they're the best. As for the students, they've heard so much about these tests that they're terrified of failing, or at least not doing their best.
There are some children who excel at tests and love them. At the other end of the spectrum are those who become completely stressed over exams. Most kids could live just as well without them. If your child stresses to the extreme, how can you help?
SATS (standardised achievement tests) were introduced as a way of assessing schools rather than children. The government wanted to answer two questions: how well are the nation's children doing, and how well are individual schools doing? To do this, they test children at age 7 to get a baseline score. The children are then tested again at age 11. The difference between the two scores is how much the children have learnt through their four years in school and is referred to as the "value added". The aim is to raise the overall level of education among eleven year old, and SATS give the government a way of measuring this.
In actuality, the SATS don't really relate to individual children. The scores aren't used in the secondary schools to plan how and what they teach. Instead they do an assessment of each child. The levels (scores) are extremely broad and don't tell how well your child is performing. Eleven year olds are expected to score at level 4, but that doesn't tell you if they are at the high or low end of the spectrum. Usually by then, you the parent know how your child is doing in comparison to his classmates. The teachers should of course be aware of this as well. As you can see, the SAT scores won't affect an individual child's 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 your reassurance doesn't t help, then talk to her teacher. Find out how he handles explaining the SATS to his students. Let him know that you have concerns about your child, and would like to work out a plan of mutual support.
Finally, remember that if you have any concerns about how well your child is progressing in school, do talk to the teacher, or possibly the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (the SENCO) or head teacher. Do not just sit at home worrying.
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Dr. Noel Swanson has a free newsletter with expert parenting advice and also regularly writes for Yes Parenting website.
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