Answers to all your Rising Stars New Curriculum Assessment questions

Rising Stars Progress Tests and the new National Curriculum

What are the Rising Stars Progress Tests for?

The Progress Tests have been specifically designed to assess pupil progress against the new National Curriculum Programmes of Study. The tests have been written and reviewed by curriculum and assessment experts to ensure that the tests are suitable for the intended age group, assess the relevant requirements of the new curriculum and have clear, unambiguous mark schemes.

Who are the Rising Stars Progress Tests for?

The Rising Stars Progress Tests provide separate tests for pupils in Years 1-6. The tests assess the Programme of Study for the particular year group and subject.

How do the Rising Stars Progress Tests help teachers?

The Rising Stars Progress Tests provide teachers with useful evidence about how pupils in their class are progressing against the new National Curriculum Programmes of Study. They can also be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in pupils’ learning. The evidence can be used for planning as well as for reporting.

How were the questions in the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests matched to the new Programmes of Study for each year group?

All the questions in the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests were written to be used with the new National Curriculum Programmes of Study. Authors were given detailed briefs about the content and demand required for the tests for each year group and all questions were reviewed by experienced curriculum and assessment experts to check fit with the new National Curriculum.

How was Rising Stars able to create these assessments without guidance from the DfE on assessment and before we know what the new National Tests will look like?

The Programmes of Study for the new National Curriculum describe in detail what pupils must be taught each year and what they must know and be able to do by the end of each Key Stage. The Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests have been written so that teachers can carry out regular assessment of their pupils to check progress against the new Programmes of Study for English, maths and science. They are designed for ongoing teacher assessment rather than as practice for National Curriculum tests. Rising Stars will provide additional support for National Curriculum practice once DfE have released details of the form of the new tests. We have developed the Progress Tests in consultation with The DfE, who have actively encouraged publishers to develop assessments to support the new National Curriculum and have been kept fully informed about the Rising Stars tests as they have been developed.

How can we be confident that the results data for each test are accurate?

The content and demand of the tests has been reviewed by curriculum and assessment experts. Detailed mark schemes have been produced to help teachers mark the tests consistently so that results are accurate.

How have the zones of progress been set? Are they age related?

The scores from each test show how well a pupil is progressing against the Programme of Study for a particular subject and year group, so they are age related. The scores for each test have been put into three progress zones. Most pupils will be making expected progress. Some pupils will be making more than expected progress and others will be working towards expected progress.

Can I keep using the current assessment as we want to be able to give a level to parents that they understand?

The current Rising Stars Assessment tests can be used with all year groups until the new curriculum is introduced (September 2014 for Y1, Y3, Y4 and Y5 and September 2015 for Y2 and Y6). The current tests will not be suitable once the new curriculum has been introduced as the Programme of Study is different and National Curriculum levels are being discontinued. The new Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests provide information about whether pupils are making expected progress for their year group against the Programme of Study, exceeding expected progress, or working towards expected progress. This information can be reported to parents.

Running the tests

How easy are the Progress Tests to use?

The Progress Tests are designed to be easy to use. The tests are short in duration and need minimal setting up (in most cases teachers just need to make sure there is a copy of the test for each pupil). The tests are designed for low stakes classroom use. Depending on the subject and year group, tests are likely to take between 10 and 20 minutes, but teachers have the flexibility to allow their pupils more or less time according to their professional judgement.

How long does each test take?

As a rough guide, 1 minute per mark should be allowed for written tests, however teachers should use their own judgement as to how long to give their pupils to take each test. Specific time allocations are given for the KS2 mental mathematics tests to prepare pupils for the end of Keys Stage tests.

Can I network the CD-ROM content and do I have to buy a subscription?

A one-off purchase of the CD-ROMs by a school allows the software to be used on any number of PCs owned by the school including use on a network – no subscription is required.

Assessing pupil progress

What do the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests measure?

The Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests measure how well pupils are progressing against the Programmes of Study for the new National Curriculum in English, mathematics and science for a particular year group.

What do the scores from the Progress Tests show and how should I use them?

The scores show how well a pupil is progressing against the Programme of Study for a particular subject and year group. The scores for each test have been put into three progress zones. Most pupils will be making expected progress. Some pupils will be making more than expected progress and others will be working towards expected progress. When the scores are put into the Progress Trackers teachers can see the progress profile for the whole class and also see performance on individual questions or types of questions. Teachers can use this information to inform their planning. Test scores can also be used as part of the portfolio of evidence for Ofsted and for reporting to parents.

How have the zones of progress been set? Are they age related?

The scores from each test show how well a pupil is progressing against the Programme of Study for a particular subject and year group, so they are age related. The scores for each test have been put into three progress zones. Most pupils will be making expected progress. Some pupils will be making more than expected progress and others will be working towards expected progress.

How can we be confident that the results data for each test are accurate?

The content and demand of the tests has been reviewed by curriculum and assessment experts. Detailed mark schemes have been produced to help teachers mark the tests consistently so that results are accurate.

How do we assess our more able pupils and ensure they are making progress?

All pupils need to be assessed to ensure they are making progress. Using the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests all pupils will be making consistent progress if they score similar marks in the tests for a particular subject throughout the year. For example, if a child is consistently scoring 9 in 10-mark tests they are consistently demonstrating above expected progress. It is also possible to stretch more able pupils to ensure they do not do tests that are too easy for them. For maths, more able pupils could skip the Low test for each topic and start with one of the Medium tests instead. Very able pupils could be given tests from the next year group. In science more able pupils could go straight to the end of topic and end of year tests or be given tests from the next year group. In English (GPS and reading) the tests in each book get progressively more difficult during the year so more able pupils could be given tests from later in the year.

How can we use the tests to assess our less able pupils and ensure they are making progress?

All pupils need to be assessed to ensure they are making progress. Using the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests all pupils will be making consistent progress if they score similar marks in the tests for a particular subject throughout the year. For example, if a child is consistently scoring 3 in 10-mark tests they are consistently demonstrating less than expected progress. It is also possible to ensure less able pupils are not presented with tests that are too difficult for them. For maths, less able pupils should take the Low test for each topic. If necessary, pupils could be given tests from the previous year group. In science less able pupils could be given the diagnostic and mid-topic tests only. In English (GPS and reading) the tests in each book get progressively more difficult during the year so less able pupils could be given tests from earlier in the year or even from the previous year.

How can we compare results from Rising Stars Assessment 2008/2010 editions with results from the new Progress Tests?

It is not possible to compare results from previous Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests with results from the new progress tests because the tests are written for different versions of the National Curriculum and the new National Curriculum does not include level descriptions for attainment. In addition, the tests themselves are different in terms of content so it is not valid to make comparisons between the previous and new tests.

What information do the Progress Tests provide about how a child is performing?

The Rising Stars Progress Tests are specifically designed to help teachers track the progress their pupils are making against the Programmes of Study for the new National Curriculum. The marks for the tests are allocated to three progress bands so that teachers can quickly identify whether each child is making expected progress, more than expected progress or less than expected progress against the Programme of Study for their year. If teachers input the marks from the tests into the supporting Progress Trackers they can see at glance which pupils fall into which zone of progress. The Progress Trackers also provide an individual report for each pupil, which can be printed out and given to parents.

How can the Rising Stars Progress Tests be used to drive improvement for pupils and teachers?

The information from the Progress Tests can be used to identify if an individual pupil needs support if they are not making expected progress or more challenge if they are performing above expectation for their year group. The supporting Progress Trackers can also be used to identify any whole class issues as the average score for each question in the tests is colour coded. This enables teachers to see if there are any areas that need support or further challenge for the whole class. Teachers can use this information to inform their planning to ensure their teaching is appropriately focused.

How has Rising Stars ensured that the Progress Tests are in line with best practice and innovation in assessment?

The Progress Tests have been developed in conjunction with leading practitioners and experts in primary curriculum and assessment, including Cornwall Learning, who have acted as Series Adviser. In addition, the tests have been reviewed to ensure they provide appropriate assessment of the new National Curriculum.

Progress Tracker

What is the password for the Progress Tracker on the CD-ROM?

It is RISINGSTARS. Please refer to the ‘Using the Progress Tracker’ file on the CD-ROM if you need any further information about using the Progress Tracker alongside the Progress Tests.

Can results from previous tests (Rising Stars Assessment 2008/2010 editions) be imported into the Progress Tracker?

Each Progress Tracker relates to a particular year group and set of tests. It is not therefore possible to import data from previous Rising Stars tests into the Progress Trackers. It is however possible to export data from the Progress Trackers into your school’s MIS.

Using the science tests

We have a science scheme – can I use the Rising Stars Assessment Science Progress Tests alongside this?

The Rising Stars Assessment Science Progress Tests are organised by topic so you can use them alongside any published scheme or your own scheme of work.

I am using Switched on Science. Do I need to buy the Rising Stars Assessment Science Progress Tests?

The Rising Stars Assessment Science Progress Tests are organised around the content areas in the National Curriculum Programme of Study. They are stand-alone tests and can be used alongside Switched on Science or with any other scheme.

Using the English tests

What is included in the new English Progress Tests for Year 1?

The Rising Stars Assessment English Progress Tests include half-termly tests for reading and for grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. There are also half-termly tests for spelling from the second half of the spring term to give pupils time to develop and secure their phonic knowledge in the first part of Year 1.

Using the mathematics tests

We have a maths scheme – can I use the Rising Stars Assessment Mathematics Progress Tests alongside this?

The Rising Stars Assessment Mathematics Progress Tests are organised by topic so you can use them alongside any published scheme or your own scheme of work.

If I am using the Rising Stars Primary Mathematics Planning Framework, do I need to buy the Rising Stars Maths Assessment Tasks and the Mathematics Progress Tests?

The Rising Stars Assessment Mathematics Progress Tests are organised around the content areas in the National Curriculum Programme of Study. They are stand-alone tests and can be used alongside the Primary Mathematics Planning Framework or with any other scheme. The Maths Assessment Tasks have been designed specifically for use with the Primary Mathematics Planning Framework and are open-ended tasks that allow written and oral evidence of a pupil’s progress to be gathered; they are not written tests.

Inclusion, access and the more able

How inclusive are the Progress Tests?

The Progress Tests have been written to be as inclusive as possible and to be suitable for children whatever their gender, social class or race/ethnicity.

How accessible are the Progress Tests?

The Progress Tests have been reviewed by an accessibility expert to ensure they are accessible to as many children as possible, including those with special needs.

How do we assess our more able pupils and ensure they are making progress?

All pupils need to be assessed to ensure they are making progress. Using the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests all pupils will be making consistent progress if they score similar marks in the tests for a particular subject throughout the year. For example, if a child is consistently scoring 9 in 10-mark tests they are consistently demonstrating above expected progress. It is also possible to stretch more able pupils to ensure they do not do tests that are too easy for them. For maths, more able pupils could skip the Low test for each topic and start with one of the Medium tests instead. Very able pupils could be given tests from the next year group. In science more able pupils could go straight to the end of topic and end of year tests or be given tests from the next year group. In English (GPS and reading) the tests in each book get progressively more difficult during the year so more able pupils could be given tests from later in the year.

How can we use the tests to assess our less able pupils and ensure they are making progress?

All pupils need to be assessed to ensure they are making progress. Using the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests all pupils will be making consistent progress if they score similar marks in the tests for a particular subject throughout the year. For example, if a child is consistently scoring 3 in 10-mark tests they are consistently demonstrating less than expected progress. It is also possible to ensure less able pupils are not presented with tests that are too difficult for them. For maths, less able pupils should take the Low test for each topic. If necessary, pupils could be given tests from the previous year group. In science less able pupils could be given the diagnostic and mid-topic tests only. In English (GPS and reading) the tests in each book get progressively more difficult during the year so less able pupils could be given tests from earlier in the year or even from the previous year.

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