Latest primary league tables & KS2 SATs results

The government has published the latest primary school league tables based on the KS2 SATs tests sat by ten and eleven year olds in the summer of 2016. These were the first tests under the new curriculum and assessment measures. Here expert from Sheffield Hallam University give their reactions:

Comment from Professor Samantha Twiselton, Director of Sheffield Institute of Education:

“As we heard in the Select Committee enquiry meeting yesterday there is a great deal of evidence that there has been chaos in primary assessment for the last two years. It is therefore very unsurprising that these results show both a big change from previous performances and also great variations across the country. It is extremely important that these outcomes are understood within this context and against a background where the rules of engagement continue to constantly change. We must therefore be very cautious in attributing too much significance to these outcomes as so many variables have potentially impacted on their validity and reliability. Having said that it is also important not to use this as an excuse to dismiss the new curriculum or excuse low expectations – whether on the grounds of geography, socio-economic background or anything else.

There is always learning to be gained from looking at those that have performed well and clearly the lessons from the London Challenge must continue to impact on how regions address educational attainment challenges. This is exactly what we are trying to do in the Sheffield City Region by bringing stakeholders together to work much more collaboratively and strategically on agreeing collective approaches to school improvement with a crucial focus on the continuous development of the quality of teaching in the classrooms via our Partnerships for Attainment proposal that is with the DfE for consideration.”

Comment from Dr Colin McCaig, Reader in Higher Education Policy, Centre for Development and Research in Education, Sheffield Institute of Education:

“You have to wonder what the government is trying to do with this latest disruption of the school league tables system. Based on what they have introduced elsewhere it looks as if they are trying to introduce a wider distribution between the highest and lowest performing schools/districts as a clearer market signal for parental choice. All districts clustering around an apparently high performance level, as the old system did, doesn’t help pushier parents sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’ which is, of course, the whole point of league tables in the first place.

Equally, however, this new regime is disruptive in the short term precisely because different areas will have adapted to the new regime in different ways, as was revealed after research we carried out into the failings of A level reform leading to a crisis of university admissions a decade ago. The experience from that episode suggests that by next year the new regime produce very different outcomes that do not actually represent different performance levels against the test regime. Meaning of course that we will need several years worth of data to see how the new regime settles down.”

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