School performance measures are used by the government to compare pupils’ attainment and/or progress against the threshold levels (i.e. floor/minimum standards). According to the Department for Education, the floor standard for a school refers to the minimum standards for pupil achievement and/or progress that schools are expected to meet.
It’s the start of the new academic year and for many this signals the official start of a level-free approach to assessment.
To help you navigate your way through the numerous changes to the National Tests and understand how schools are expected to measure progress and attainment in the absence of levels, we have pre-recorded a free webinar. This is available to listen to by clicking play on the below screen, at any time, from anywhere, so you can digest all this useful information when it best suits you.
Put aside 45 minutes to listen to Camilla Erskine, our Consultant Publisher for Assessment, cover the following key areas:
- An update on changes to the assessment and accountability landscape in England
- What the removal of National Curriculum levels means for primary schools in terms of pupil attainment and progress
- Overview of how Ofsted will judge attainment and progress without levels
- What schools are doing in response to these changes
- Sources of information and support
- A brief overview of the Rising Stars and Hodder Education assessment solutions for primary schools (with special discounts for webinar viewers)
Rising Stars has reached out to primary school teachers across the country through focus groups and social media to find out which new curriculum assessment terms teachers find tricky. We’ve included an explanation of each of the terms below. If there are other terms you’d like us to add, we’d love to hear from you! Tweet us at @risingstarsedu or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
These refer to what children are expected to know by the end of each year (for the core subjects) or key stage (for all other subjects) based on the requirements of the new national curriculum. They are stated within the programmes of study for each subject.
‘Baseline’ assessment involves the collection of data from assessing children on entry into a particular year or key stage. This initial data serves as a basis for measuring progress against throughout the year, in subsequent years or key stages. The Department for Education has introduced the reception baseline, a baseline assessment in reception, to improve how primary schools’ progress is measured. From September 2015, schools have the option to sign up to use the reception baseline from an approved provider. In 2022 the DfE will use whichever measure shows the most progress: either a schools’ reception baseline to key stage 2 results, or their key stage 1 results to key stage 2 results.
The floor standard for a school defines the minimum standards for pupil achievement and/or progress that the Government expects schools in that particular phase of education to meet. If a school’s performance falls below this floor standard, then the school will come under scrutiny through inspection. Continue reading →
The new arithmetic paper in the 2016 national tests
A good deal of focus on the new curriculum and its assessment arrangements over the past months has been on the higher expectations in maths and grammar, and on the complex problems that appear in the two problem solving and reasoning papers in the new KS2 tests for maths. Understandably teachers have focused on how they can adapt their curriculum to meet those new higher standards, but one change seems still to be just off the radar of many schools.
May 2015 saw the final statutory mental maths test undertaken by Year 6 pupils leaving KS2. Since 1998, around 10 million Year 6 children have taken the tests and thousands of teachers have doubtless been responsible for teaching those children the skills they need to meet the requirements of the test. The change, from next summer, to a written arithmetic test is not an unsubstantial one.
Up and down the lands schools can still often be found carrying out a weekly mental arithmetic practice test – indeed my own school still makes good use of the Rising Stars New Curriculum Mental Maths Tests because the skills are still essential for good mathematics. But our focus now needs to turn as well to the important element of the arithmetic test.
From next summer, children in both Year 2 and Year 6 will face a written arithmetic test as part of the end-of-key-stage statutory assessments, so alongside good practice in mental maths, schools need to start putting preparations in place to support our children in tackling this new test.
What’s involved at Key Stage One?
There will be a single arithmetic paper that requires some mental recall of facts as well as some calculations appropriate to the national curriculum expectations. Continue reading →
Thanks to deputy headteacher Michael Tidd for this article
No sooner have we finished one set of Key Stage assessments, than attention inevitably turns to the next lot! But things are a little different this year. We’ve had minor tweaks before, of course, but usually with a little more notice. Summer 2016 is looking to be rather different.
So, what do we know for certain – and what still remains unanswered?
Schools have been volunteering to trial Reception Baseline Assessments, which will take place for the first time in 2015. Most schools are likely to take part from 2016 when the EYFS profile becomes optional, although in theory there’s no compulsion to use a baseline at all. However, schools who don’t use one will find themselves being judged purely on attainment in 2022 – which is not as far away as it seems.
We don’t yet know…
How the outcomes of the tests will be compared, with schools completing one of several completely different tests (of which the DfE are still yet to confirm the final approved list).
Key Stage 1
The phonics test remains in Year 1, and for those who do not reach the required standard again in Year 2.
The big changes are in Year 2 where a new grammar test will be introduced alongside new versions of the reading and maths tests. All of these will produce a scaled score instead of a level outcome. Teacher Assessment will still be required for all those areas as well as speaking & listening and science. Continue reading →
Thanks to Deputy Head Michael Tidd for researching and writing this article, which we hope will be a great time-saver for our readers!
From September, we will once again have all children in our primary schools working on a single National Curriculum. We’ll also be just months away from the first of the new style of National Curriculum Tests for Key Stages 1 and 2. Now the final frameworks and sample tests have been published, there are some minor changes. However, other changes are much more notable, so here is a quick reference guide to the new tests. We’ll start with Key Stage 1 in this first article but ensure you return to the Rising Stars blog for the Key Stage 2 instalment next week.
Key Stage 1
The big shift for all the tests at KS1 is the return of annually updated tests. Although teachers will still mark the tests internally, they will no longer have the choice of old papers to use; new tests will be produced each year, meaning unfamiliar content for every cohort. Of course, the tests also see the final removal of levels, with scores being given as a scaled score for each subject instead; 100 will represent ‘the expected standard’.
In maths, the first major change is the introduction of an arithmetic paper. The first paper will have 25 questions, each worth one mark, requiring use of discrete arithmetic skills ranging from knowledge of number bonds to simple fraction work. This paper will make up almost half of the total available marks, further emphasising the focus on number and calculations in the new curriculum. Continue reading →
The DfE has published information for headteachers, teachers, governors and local authorities about scaled scores and the national standard from 2016. You can read the full guidance on the DfE website here, and as this new method of reporting results can seem a lot to get your head around at first, we’ve summarised what we think are the key points below.
Why introduce a scaled score?
A new national curriculum brings the need for new national tests, which the STA will produce for Year 2 and Year 6 pupils to sit in May 2016. You can view information on the test frameworks and sample materials released by the DfE on 29th June here. These materials intend to give teachers a better understanding of the structure and content of the new tests.
In the new national curriculum, levels have been abolished. The government have said they took this decision partly in response to concerns about the validity and reliability of levels and sub-levels, but also because they were deemed a driver of ‘undue pace through the curriculum, which has led to gaps in pupils’ knowledge.’ The DfE are therefore changing how test performance is reported and from 2016 they will use scaled scores to report national test outcomes (a method used in numerous other countries).
So, what is a scaled score?
Using scaled scores enables test results to be reported consistently from one year to the next. Though national tests are designed to be as similar as possible every year in terms of demand, slight differences do occur. Scaled scores, however, maintain their meaning over time, so if two children achieve the same scaled score on two different tests, they will have demonstrated the same attainment. Continue reading →
As this year’s National Test cycle draws to a close, we asked Y6 teacher and Upper KS2 Phase Leader Dave Witham from Plumcroft Primary School for his feedback on the difficulty and content of this round of tests.
Although Dave’s children reported tough questions in the level 6 GPS and Reading papers, on the whole, the impression was of a fair set of tests to accurately assess a child’s progress, strengths and weaknesses.
Level 6 (GPS, Maths and Reading)
Grammar Spelling and Punctuation
Proposed changes to the GPS paper (Plumcroft Primary took part in the trials!) didn’t materialise and the short answer paper was ‘more of the same’ from level 3-5. Spellings were very challenging and we’re still building a list of examples for the children. The writing element was very predictable and nothing to really challenge the children if they are a strong and solid level 5 writer.
The children struggled to get through the reading paper, although this was expected as it’s a tough ask in the amount of time given.
As usual, all the information was presented and ‘disguised’ to really sort out the truly gifted mathematicians; however again, a fair test.
Level 3-5 (GPS, Reading, Maths and Mental Maths)
Grammar Spelling and Punctuation
The GPS paper threw up few challenges and the spellings covered were representative of suggested patterns. Continue reading →
Teach Primary recently shared an article on their website by Dylan Wiliam, a member of the Expert Panel selected to advise the Secretary of State on revisions to the national curriculum. Dylan believes there are lots of important questions all schools can ask themselves when developing their new assessment system in light of the removal of levels, but that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Dylan was actually a fan of the levels system, and believes that “had we stuck to reporting student achievement at the end of each key stage—which is still the only legal requirement—everything would have been fine”. However, when schools began reporting levels termly and even on individual pieces of work, and Ofsted starting asking students what level they were working at, he felt a system which was designed to be a ‘summary of the totality of achievement across a key stage’ was being inappropriately used. He says it was the fact that levels were getting in the way of children’s learning that he recommended they be abolished, and not because they were a bad idea.
Dylan explains: “It will be up to each school to decide how to determine whether children are learning what they need to be learning. Some schools are planning to continue with national curriculum levels for the time being. That’s fine. But it is important to realise there will be no straightforward way to carry levels forward from the current national curriculum to the new curriculum. Continue reading →
Colin Watson is the Deputy Director of Assessment Policy and Development at the DfE. Unsurprisingly his presentation at the Education Show this morning was ‘standing room only’ as hundreds of teachers gathered to hear his update on assessment for Primary schools. We thought it would be useful to summarise some of the key themes for those of you who were unable to get to the NEC today.
- Levels are not in line with the freedom intended to come with the new curriculum and the accountability system did not allow for great work to be recognised, therefore levels are not to be used with the new curriculum.
- Formative assessment is vital in classrooms every day but it is the responsibility of schools and not something central government should be involved with.
- New national tests mean a new floor standard has been raised. 85% of children will be expected to achieve a scaled score of 100 by the end of primary school.
- A school will only fall below this floor if pupils make poor progress AND fewer than 85% achieve the expected standard in national KS2 tests.
- The scaled score is yet to be determined and can only be decided using real data from the first set of new tests.
- The new progress measure will be a ‘value-added’ measure rather than an ‘expected level of progress’ measure. Continue reading →