National tests used to compile league tables have been subject to their most damning attack with even a Government education watchdog condemning them.
The Commons' Schools Select Committee called for Sats, taken by 11 and 14-year-olds, to be radically cut back. The MPs claimed the assessments led to the "widespread" practice of teachers drilling pupils to pass tests at the expense of a rounded education.
The remarkable attack coincided with last night's critical Panorama programme Tested to Destruction which looked at the impact of Sats on education.
Teachers lined up to condemn the testing regime with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) calling on the Government to "finally accept enough is enough".
The select committee warned "the system is out of balance" as 1.2 million 11 and 14-year-olds across England take Sats in maths, English and science.
It went on: "The drive to meet Government-set targets has too often become the goal rather than the means to the end of providing the best possible education for all children. We received substantial evidence teaching to the test, to an extent which narrows the curriculum and puts sustained learning at risk, is widespread. While the Government has allocated resources to tackle this and improve practice, they fail to accept the extent to which teaching to the test exists and the damage it can do.
"The way many teachers have responded to the Government's approach to accountability has meant test results are pursued at the expense of a rounded education."
This can leave pupils "unprepared" for university and employment, with teachers focusing on a few children on grade "borderlines" at the expense of others, said the committee. The MPs recommended:
* an inquiry to find out the full extent of the problem of "teaching to the test"
* a reduction in the number of times children are tested n more use of internal teacher assessment
* the system of compiling national results from tests taken by every child aged seven and 14 be abandoned
* national standards should be monitored by testing a much smaller "sample" of pupils across the country
* the exams watchdog should conduct "a full review of assessment standards" as ministers have failed to address concerns over "grade inflation"
The committee claimed Sats were distorting because they only "measure a small sample of pupils' achievements".
The report says: "Teaching to the test means pupils may not retain, or may not even possess, the skills supposedly evidenced by their test results."
As a result, some children failed to get their "full and statutory entitlement to learning".
The ATL's general secretary Mary Bousted said: "The Government should finally accept enough is enough. The testing of children is damaging their education and demoralising teachers.
"We support most of the select committee's conclusions, in particular the judgment today's national testing is used for far too many purposes and is narrowing what is taught."
Ms Bousted also called for an end to performance league tables and teacher assessment to be given a far greater role in monitoring pupil progress.
Voice, the union for educational professionals, also called on the Government to end the testing regime, describing it as an "inflexible, mechanical process".
General secretary Philip Parkin said: "We need to put the power back into the hands of people who are the experts - the teachers and fellow education professionals - rather than have everything controlled by central government."
Schools Minister Jim Knight said testing was "here to stay" but added "stage not age" assessments being piloted at 400 schools could become the norm. "There will always be debate around testing," said Mr Knight.
"But national tests show consistent improvements in standards over time and these map on to higher results at GCSE and A level."