Maths SAT exams will be toughened up
A recent article published in The Telegraph revealed a toughening of standards in the SAT exams that eleven year olds will face. The Department for Education plans to dramatically toughen these exams from 2016, with a ban on calculators and marks docked for poor spelling.
“Exams for 11-year-olds will be dramatically toughened up with new questions on the 12 times table, a ban on calculators, a focus on British English and extra marks awarded for hard to spell words, it was announced on Monday.
The Department for Education said SATs tests in the three-Rs would be set at a higher level to give children a “strong grounding” in the basics at primary school.
Up to 600,000 children a year in England will sit the new exams from 2016, which are being introduced to coincide with the Coalition’s recently-published national curriculum.
Separate exams will be taken in maths, reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar, with ministers pegging standards to tests taken by pupils in the highest-performing countries in the world.
Some of the most radical changes will be seen in maths – a subject ministers see as vital to the country’s economic future.
This follows claims from the Government that children in England are currently lagging the equivalent of three years behind their peers in China for maths.
Under the changes, new exams will require children to know their 11 and 12 times tables – pushing pupils further than existing tests based around 10x10.
For the first time, children will be banned from taking calculators into the test hall to improve standards of mental arithmetic and new questions will be introduced requiring pupils to work out the area of a parallelogram and the volume of a cuboid, it emerged.
As part of the reforms, pupils will also be given extra marks for employing traditional methods of calculation – long and short multiplication or adding and subtracting in columns.
It is designed to stop pupils using “clumsy” methods of working out such as “chunking” and “gridding” where children break problems down into numerous component stages before an answer is reached.
Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, said: “The new, demanding tests will continue to drive up standards and will help ensure no child leaves primary school unable to read, write or without a secure grounding in maths.
“We are determined to eradicate illiteracy and innumeracy and it is vital we continue to set high aspirations for all schools and pupils.”
She added: “I want England to out-educate the rest of the world. It is vital that children get a strong grounding when at primary school – not superficial understanding.”
The new national curriculum is being introduced to schools this September, with the first new-style SATs tests brought in two years later.
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