Using standardised testing to support teacher understanding

By Tyrone Samuel, Network Lead for Primary Data and Assessment

The new academic year is in full swing, and as we enter autumn 2, I have already visited the majority of our primary schools as the Network Lead for Primary Assessment and Data at Ark.

Autumn 1 has been as busy and intense as ever for me, supporting schools with their data analysis and training, bringing our assessment leads together to collaborate on good practice, as well as sharing key lessons, messages and insights. This has helped to focus minds on our Ark network mission, to make sure that every pupil can go to university or into the career of their choice by setting high expectations and striving to know every pupil.

How do we use standardised testing?

Three times a year, each year group in key stage 1 and key stage 2 sit standardised reading (PIRA) and maths (PUMA) tests which are provided by RS Assessment from Hodder Education. The results are collected alongside a teacher-assessed writing task. We then use Ark’s bespoke in-house data and analysis tools to analyse the question level data that is generated from these standardised tests, allowing school leaders and teachers to identify gaps in pupil learning at both question and subject topic level. These insights can then be used to design interventions and strategies to narrow the gaps in learning.

Forecasting outcomes

Crucially, beyond our teachers being well placed to understand strengths and gaps in learning, we have been able to use the results of standardised tests to help forecast outcomes for the end of the year. By mapping test raw scores from PIRA and PUMA to the published DfE scale score range of 80-120, we have been able to predict – with a high degree of accuracy – our students’ SATs scores.

Typically, most establishments will only use the standardised scores provided in PIRA/PUMA to inform decision-making. However, we align the raw scores with the DfE scale, so that it is a like-for-like comparison with the DfE statutory assessments, for all tests and terms. Once done, we are then able to accurately interpret and gain insight from this data over multiple assessment points, whilst checking for reliability. When we compared our raw score to scaled score mapping to the Year 6 national test indicators for PIRA and PUMA, our conversions were extremely similar, as demonstrated below.

As part of this process, we investigated the percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard in the summer standardised tests, who also went onto achieve at least the expected standard in the reading/maths national tests. Using our own raw score to scaled score conversion, 85% of pupils achieving 100+ (EXS+) in the standardised test for PIRA, went on to achieve at least the expected standard in Reading national tests. For the PUMA tests, 96% of pupils achieving 100+ (EXS+), went onto achieve at least the expected standard in Maths national tests.

Beyond this, we were also interested in how attainment over time informed year end outcomes. As such, we then looked at how aggregated data from the autumn, spring and summer PIRA and PUMA standardised tests informed outcomes vs. national tests. This involved looking at all pupils who had an average score of at least 100 (EXS+) over three interim tests. For example, if Pupil A scored 98 in autumn, 102 in spring and 100 in summer using the raw score to scaled score conversion, their average would be 100 across the year.

The correlation for this data was even stronger and provided positive predictive data, as 92% of pupils achieving an average of 100+ (EXS+) in the PIRA standardised test across three terms, went on to achieve at least the expected standard in Reading. For the PUMA standardised test across three terms, 98% of pupils achieving an average of 100+ (EXS+), went onto achieve at least the expected standard in Maths.

Next Steps

Whilst this data is clearly powerful, the emphasis on progress remains prominent, as we strive to ensure all of our pupils make substantial and sustained progress.

We are lucky to be able to benefit from the shared insight across a network of schools, where trends across sets of accurate data will allow us to continue to produce insightful analysis. This is vital in ensuring that training and support can be delivered to teachers through informed action with the hope that all our pupils achieve great results and have the best possibility of going on to university or into the career of their choice.