Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Unmarked SATs: A Solution

by Tobias Gregson

The British education system still has a problem with many English SATs exam papers which remain unmarked and ungraded.

SATs were introduced for 11 year-olds by the last Conservative regime and have been maintained by Blair and Brown. The exams are good on the one hand because they annoy awful lefty teachers who can't teach, but bad because they enforce adherence to a narrowly defined National Curriculum that leaves little room for individual growth in pupils.

This year's SATs exam marking was contracted out to a faceless global corporation who were given a multi-million pound contract to take completed SATs exam papers and get them marked by the same middle-aged supply teachers who have always marked them. It seems the corporation in question has not fulfilled the contract as well as has been expected. Another triumph for public/private partnership.

Little Man, What Now? would like to suggest an alternative method for grading SATs and would be willing to take on the contract for a competitive fee.

Instead of carrying out the long labourious task of actually marking the papers, we suggest using a simple formula based upon information about the pupil in question:

M = TG(100 - S) - N

Here is an explanation of the symbols used in the equation:

M = Mark. The pupil's final mark out of one hundred.

S = School variable. A number to be subtracted from the mark decided by the type of school attended by the pupil. The methodology used for deciding these values was to eavesdrop at the window during middle class dinner parties and listen to parents with annoying voices droning on about catchment areas. The higher the number, the lower the mark:
  • Public School= 0
  • Catholic School= 2
  • Grammar School= 4
  • City Academy Run By Tescos = 6
  • City Academy Run By Creationist Nutter = 8
  • BSC (Bog Standard Comprehensive) = 10
T = Teaching method coefficient. A number assigned to the method used to teach the pupil to read (or to not read as the case may be). These values were based upon the latest research, which has come to the astounding conclusion that children learn to read most effectively by learning the sounds made by different letter combinations, rather than attempting to learn the shapes of thousands of words as if they were fucking Chinese ideograms. "No shit Sherlock", as they say. The lower the number, the lower the mark
  • Synthetic Phonics = 1
  • No Particular Methodology = 0.8
  • Whole Word Method = 0.5
G = Gender multiplier. Since most primary teachers are female, it is unlikely that they will choose books for their classrooms which contain stories about pirates, robots or footballers. This puts the young male brain at a disadvantage. The lower the number, the lower the mark:
  • Female = 1
  • Male = 0.8
N = Given name variable. A number to be subtracted from the mark depending on the given name of the pupil. Stringent anecdotal evidence has shown that a person's first name is a significant indicator of future social status. Actually, I once knew a professor named Sharon, but the exception surely proves the rule. A complete list will need to be compiled, but here are some examples of the values attached to male names. The higher the number, the lower the mark:
  • Zhi = 2
  • Rupert = 4
  • Simon = 6
  • Moon Unit =6
  • Wayne = 8
So, as an example, let us take a child with the misfortune to have been named "Wayne" but with the good luck to have been born Catholic. He attends a Catholic primary school where his teacher, an elderly Priest, taught him to read using encouragement and occasional violence. This would count as "no particular methodology". This information yields the following values:

M = 0.8*0.8(100 - 2) - 8
= 54.72 %


So, the positive influence of his Catholic schooling and his teacher's lack of modern teaching qualifications have given Wayne a solid C grade. This is despite the burden of his proletarian Christian name.

This demonstrates that we can grade SATs to the satisfaction of all involved without any examiners actually having to miss EastEnders to mark papers. Result.

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