Implications for Teaching and Learning 2014

Every year, Rising Stars commissions a team of experienced Year 6 teachers and consultants to review the Key Stage 2 National Test papers and pinpoint those areas where pupils performed less well.

This report outlines those areas that were identified as being problematic and makes suggestions for helping pupils to address these difficulties. This summary should be used in conjunction with teachers’ and schools’ own analysis of pupils’ performance in the National Tests and knowledge of the teaching that had prepared the pupils for them.

Please fill in the below form to receive your free reports Continue reading →

Assessment approaches developed by teaching schools

In October 2013 the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) invited teaching schools to bid for small-scale research funding to investigate assessment of the new National Curriculum now that there are no longer levels. A report summarising this research, Beyond Levels: alternative approaches developed by teaching schools, is now available.

34 teaching school alliances took part in the research, which involved 238 schools including 153 primary schools. Three priorities emerged from the research:

  • development of assessment tools to support individual progress
  • development of assessment tools to capture and record progress
  • use of technology to track attainment and progress.

Further details of each of these are provided below. Continue reading →

Assessment and Ofsted inspections from September 2014

In July, Ofsted published an updated version of the School Inspection Handbook. This handbook details the evidence that inspectors should be looking for when carrying out Section 5 inspections.

 

Of particular interest is the new guidance to support inspectors in making judgements during the phased removal of National Curriculum levels. Assessment is mentioned in the ‘Leadership and management’ and ‘Quality of teaching’ sections of the handbook, but it is a key focus of the ‘Achievement of pupils at the school’ section. Below is a summary of the key points and how use of the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests will help schools to provide the evidence that inspectors will be seeking.

Download the printable PDF version Continue reading →

Changes to Ofsted inspections from September 14

Ofsted letter to Headteachers

Ofsted has recently written to Headteachers alerting them to changes to inspections that will start from 1 September 2014. This follows publication of the Note for inspectors: use of assessment information in 2014/15.

The key details of relevance to primary schools are:

  • the introduction of a separate graded judgement for the early years;
  • an increased focus on how well school leaders tackle low-level disruption and ensure that pupils’ conduct and attitudes to learning are good;
  • greater attention on whether or not a school’s curriculum is broad and balanced and promotes tolerance of and respect for people of other faiths, cultures and lifestyles;
  • details as to what evidence Ofsted will use given the demise of National Curriculum levels.

The letter also outlines the criteria that will be used for unannounced inspections for 2014/15.

Ofsted and assessment information

The note for inspectors provides details of the assessment evidence that Ofsted will be using in 2014/15 to judge learning and progress recognising that there will be a mixed economy for the next year as schools start to migrate to the new curriculum and assessment arrangements. Specifically:

  • Pupils in Years 2 and 6 will still be taught the old National Curriculum so their attainment and progress will continue to be tracked and measured using levels.
  • For other pupils, apart from those in Year 1, there will be historic data expressed in National Curriculum levels as well as assessment data collected against the new Programmes of Study.
  • Additionally, some schools may choose to move away from the use of levels immediately, others may do so more gradually. In 2014-15 inspectors will recognise that schools are likely to be still developing their preferred new assessment system. Continue reading →

Assessment Beyond 2014 – a headteacher’s view

by Michael Dillon, Headteacher of Kew Riverside Primary School in Richmond, London.

On the face of it, the government’s rationale for change [i] is difficult to disagree with:

  • ongoing, teacher-led assessment is a crucial part of effective teaching,
  • schools should have the freedom to decide how to teach their curriculum and how to track the progress that pupils make,
  • both summative teacher assessment and external testing are important,
  • accountability is key to a successful school system, and therefore must be fair and transparent,
  • measures of both progress and attainment are important for understanding school performance, and,
  • a broad range of information should be published to help parents and the wider public know how well schools are performing.

As a Headteacher I would always support high expectations, setting targets, being accountable, having transparency and improving communication with parents. And it goes without saying that I always want to improve teaching and learning – for both teachers and children.

In my opinion, simply removing the National Curriculum levels will not necessarily achieve the desired goals listed above. There is a real danger that we will simply be replacing one arbitrary measure of achievement with another. And more importantly, unless we work together as a profession, valuable resources (time and money) will be wasted on inventing hundreds of different assessment frameworks that will not be valid or reliable.

The main issues I see at the moment are the sheer pace of change and the lack of information and advice available. The idea that Headteachers can introduce a new ‘reliable and valid’ assessment framework that will achieve the above outcomes, ready for September, from a practical perspective, is unachievable. Continue reading →

Mathematics assessment and the new National Curriculum

Clarity for parents, but confusion for schools? by Sarah-Anne Fernandes, Educational Consultant on the Rising Stars Assessment Mathematics Progress Tests

As schools grapple with the roll out of the new 2014 mathematics programmes of study for all year groups in the primary phase (except Years 2 and 6, which are exempt until September 2015), another major consideration for teachers is how mathematics will be assessed.

For teachers, arguably one of the most overwhelming challenges facing schools is the removal of levels to describe how a child is performing in mathematics across Years 1 to 6. The government’s biggest motivation for removing levels is based on parents not being able to understand level descriptors clearly and thus not knowing precisely how their child is performing in comparison to age-related expectations and also in relation to their peers. In response to this, the government will establish a standardised score scale system at the end of Key Stage 2 to help parents gain a better understanding of their child’s attainment.

The finer details of what this will actually look like are yet to be determined, but they are expected to be published by the Standards and Testing Agency in line with the new 2016 assessments. What we do know is that this standardised average scale score will be used to decipher if a pupil has met the ‘secondary readiness standard’ and will be one of the key measures that will be made available in the performance tables.

Apart from setting this scaled score at the end of Key Stage 2, the government will not be providing any further guidance or prescription as to how schools should track and assess pupils’ progress across the primary phase. Continue reading →

Statutory teacher assessment requirements from 2016

As well as stressing the importance of ongoing formative and summative teacher assessment, the DfE Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools document also provides details of the statutory National Curriculum teacher assessments that will take place from summer 2016.

Key Stage 1

The subjects for which there will be statutory teachers assessment at Key Stage 1 are shown in the table below.

Subject Additional information
Reading TA informed by test scores
Writing TA informed by test score for GPS
Speaking and listening
Grammar, punctuation and spelling
Mathematics TA informed by test scores
Science

This is similar to current requirements but with the addition of teacher assessment of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Instead of a National Curriculum level, teachers will report teacher assessment results by deciding which new performance descriptor each pupil best meets.

Continue reading →

The Key Stage 1 National Tests from 2016

The frameworks are written primarily for test writers. They set out what will and will not be assessed by the statutory national tests, how each element will be assessed, the proposed structure of each test and what standard pupils will be expected to achieve. They are not designed to be used to guide teaching and learning or to inform statutory teacher assessment.

The draft frameworks for the new national assessments that will be introduced in summer 2016 are now available and can be downloaded from the gov.uk website

At Key Stage 1 there are frameworks for each of reading; grammar, punctuation and spelling; and mathematics. The key sections of each document are:

  • the nature of the test (particularly the test format)
  • the content to be assessed
  • the ‘cognitive domain’, in other words the thinking skills and intellectual processes to be assessed (e.g. problem solving, reasoning)
  • the test specification, including the performance descriptor.

It is very important to note that the tests do not cover all the content or skills of the National Curriculum for English and mathematics. The tests focus on what can be assessed in a paper-based, written test. The document states the areas of the curriculum that are outside the scope of the national tests and that need to be assessed by teacher assessment.

Each of the framework documents includes a performance descriptor that describes the ‘typical characteristics of children whose performance in the tests is at the threshold of the expected standard.’ These characteristics are intended as a general guide rather than as a prescriptive list and will be used by a panel of teachers to set the standards on the new tests in summer 2016. Continue reading →

The new National Curriculum: key dates for assessment

The new National Curriculum is now being taught and schools are working to establish assessment systems that work in a world without levels. The Department for Education will be releasing more information over the coming year and some aspects of the new arrangements will not take place for some time. The table below is a summary of the key dates for the next few years to help primary schools see what is happening and when.

Continue reading →

How Rising Stars New Curriculum Assessment meets the DfE’s new assessment principles

The DfE’s new assessment principles have been produced to help schools prepare to implement new assessment arrangements for tracking pupil progress against the new National Curriculum.

These principles are also designed to help schools choose published assessment resources from suppliers.

Together with the supporting Progress Trackers, the Rising Stars Progress Tests were specifically written to help schools track pupil progress in reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling, mathematics and science.

The summary table below identifies in detail how the Progress Tests meet each of the DfE assessment principles. Continue reading →