Assessing reading at Key Stage 2: SATs as measures of children's inferential abilities
Tennent, W., Stainthorp, R. and Stuart, M. (2008) Assessing reading at Key Stage 2: SATs as measures of children's inferential abilities. British Educational Research Journal, 34 (4). pp. 431-446. ISSN 0141-1926
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/01411920701532251
This article describes two studies. The first study was designed to investigate the ways in which the statutory assessments of reading for 11-year-old children in England assess inferential abilities. The second study was designed to investigate the levels of performance achieved in these tests in 2001 and 2002 by 11-year-old children attending state-funded local authority schools in one London borough. In the first study, content and questions used in the reading papers for the Standard Assessment Tasks (SATs) in the years 2001 and 2002 were analysed to see what types of inference were being assessed. This analysis suggested that the complexity involved in inference making and the variety of inference types that are made during the reading process are not adequately sampled in the SATs. Similar inadequacies are evident in the ways in which the programmes of study for literacy recommended by central government deal with inference. In the second study, scripts of completed SATs reading papers for 2001 and 2002 were analysed to investigate the levels of inferential ability evident in scripts of children achieving different SATs levels. The analysis in this article suggests that children who only just achieve the 'target' Level 4 do so with minimal use of inference skills. They are particularly weak in making inferences that require the application of background knowledge. Thus, many children who achieve the reading level (Level 4) expected of 11-year-olds are entering secondary education with insecure inference-making skills that have not been recognised.