Every year the marking, administration and validity of the SATs examinations seem to turn into a greater fiasco than the previous. This year thousands of papers will be sent back to the examiners due to sloppy marking. There are reports of students losing marks for spelling despite having no mistakes, and examiners taking marks off for undotted ’i’s whilst ignoring similar mistake on other candidates' papers.
The debate regarding the SATs is an ongoing saga in New Labour’s education policy and the lgonger it goes on, the more damaging it will be to young people. The validity of the grading system has been brought into question and people have naturally lost confidence in it. In time the system will become obsolete - how can teachers and schools authorities continue use the results of SATs to rate students and make important decisions on their futures if they cannot be certain the results are accurate?
We need to encourage more choice and diversity within our public examination system, rather than top-down control from the government who have their eyes set on headline statistics, and not the education of young people. A greater degree of privatization and autonomy would allow students to pick examination boards that had the best reputations for accuracy and exams that were tailored to their needs. In turn, employers would seek staff with qualifications from the most reputable and challenging exam boards.
This lack of confidence in our current qualifications system is already being seen with a growing number of candidates and schools opting to take the International Baccalaureate as opposed to the A-Level, which is all-too-often viewed as a ‘dumbed down’ or grade-inflated qualification. Clearly Labour are yet to fulfil their pledge on "education, education, education" – and they won’t as long continue to meddle in the system.