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Sats 2019: Was the ‘bumblebee question’ marking fair?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by TES_Rosaline, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Year 6 teachers have taken to social media to voice their concerns and anger about pupils who missed out on marks because of the ‘bumblebee question’ in the Sats reading test:

    ‘Teachers have criticised an “infuriating” marking scheme on the key stage 2 reading Sats test, which led to some pupils getting no marks for a question about bumblebees.

    In the test, taken by around 600,000 10- and 11-year-olds in May, pupils were asked to read a fact sheet about helping bumblebees and then answer questions.

    The mark scheme says that when pupils answer about help for a weak bumblebee “give it a sugar and water mix”, it is worth one mark, but “sugar and water mix” is not acceptable and gets nothing.’


    What are your views about the question and the marking scheme for the KS2 Sats question?
  2. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Not quite - the mark scheme actually says: "Award 1 mark for reference to any two acceptable points from Help for all bumblebees, OR for one acceptable point from Help for all bumblebees and one acceptable point from Help for a weak bumblebee, so "give it a sugar and water mix" is only worth one mark when present along with an acceptable point from the other text.

    Without having access to the minds of those who wrote the mark scheme, I would guess that the reason for not awarding anything for 'sugar and water mix' is that the failure to include a verb makes it ambiguous as it isn't clear whether the sugar and water mix is to be taken by the human or given to the bee.
    sunshineneeded likes this.
  3. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    I think you're right, Lalad. But, having trawled through several reading papers of those who just missed out, there was some seriously pedantic marking! And not just concerning the bumble bees! Nothing changes ….. !!
  4. Sundaytrekker

    Sundaytrekker Star commenter

    Having been a SATs marker in the past, I can tell you that this kind of answer is debated extensively with many additional examples of creditworthy or non creditworthy answers given as examples. I agree with the view that the verb is needed to make it creditworthy and to try to persuade them otherwise on appeal would be next to pointless.
  5. danyb9999

    danyb9999 New commenter

    Are we testing what children understanding or how well they have been taught to complete a test?
  6. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    well, I've just marked an exam where the word "microbes" gets a mark, but the word "bacteria" doesn't. mark schemes are often pedantic.
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Aren't all tests really a test of the students' comprehension skills, as well as their knowledge of the subject?

    Yes, the bumblebee question was not ideal and it could have been phrased better. However, ALL candidates had the same question, so even this notorious bumblebee question, rather like the Maths question about the squares a month or two ago (the one that caused so much outrage and floods of tears), was not "unfair" (in the sense that it did not discriminate or was biased).

    Sundaytrekker seems to know about these things.
    BetterNow and Pomza like this.
  8. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    Was it something to do with "bacteria" being a specific type of microbe, whereas "microbes" includes things other than bacteria?

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