By Patrick Yarker
All NUT members should by now have received a copy of the union's survey of members' attitudes to SATs.
The survey is due to be followed by a boycott ballot, so ensuring as large as possible a return of the survey can be seen by activists as a dummy-run for the vital boycott-ballot itself. Now is the time to touch base with school-based reps or isolated members, to check that everyone has received their survey, to chase up the survey's return and to make contact with the broad-based National Anti-SATS Alliance which is campaigning across the country for an end to the wasteful and damaging national testing regime.
SATs are increasingly discredited as a form of educative assessment. They tell teachers nothing we don't already know about our students and they force teachers to narrow the educational offer we make.
Students in years 2, 6 and 9 face being crammed for the high-stakes SATs at the expense of their developing creativity, sporting prowess and all-round educational development. SATs put students under excessive stress so that increasing numbers are made overly-anxious. Some students suffer sleeping or eating disorders. A small number talk of self-harm or suicide.
And all for the sake of snapshot tests which, according to a survey of the available academic evidence, actually work to widen the gap between the higher and the lower attainers.
The demotivating effect of SATs turns many students off learning and prevents them making the progress they otherwise would. To be publicly tested and found wanting at seven, eleven and again at fourteen is almost guaranteed to produce unhappy and disaffected students.
"Instead of motivation increasing with age, older pupils feel more resentment, anxiety, cynicism and mistrust of standardised achievement testsÉ" reported the academics, confirming the experience of many students and teachers.
Over the past school-year, when hundreds of teachers have been made redundant, setting, distributing and marking SATs cost more £24 million pounds. That money would have been far better spent on staffing and resources.
And every day the government spends millions of pounds maintaining troops in the shattered slaughterhouse of post-war Iraq.
Parents and students are showing themselves opposed to SATs. Assessment for learning is what's needed to help each student make progress, not the high-pressure ordeal of tests increasingly divorced from useful educational activity.