Learning from Raise

Thanks to Michael Tidd for this helpful article.

The excitement of opening up Raise Online when the data is first published is… well, perhaps excitement is not quite the right word. Nevertheless, when the data finally arrived this term headteachers will have been poring over it trying to extract every last detail of information about last year’s performance. Doubtless governors too will get their chance to share in the scatterplots and tables, wisely guided by the professional leads.

The problem is, it’s too late for all those children, and just like the stock market adverts always tell us: historic performance is not necessarily a guide to future success. Leaders and governors need to consider what has gone before, but all the while need to be keeping an eye on the future. So while Raise can tell us something of what we achieved last year, how else do we keep everyone informed, including our governors?

One big thing that is evident from this year’s Raise summary is the clear focus on disadvantaged pupils, i.e. those eligible for pupil premium funding. Barely a page goes by without the group being separated out from the rest of the cohort and their attainment and progress being listed separately. In many cases, it’s also compared to other pupils nationally, but it’s important to note that it’s not other pupil premium children, but rather the non-PP children they’re being compared to. That’s important to consider when looking at other data in school.

Continue reading →

Ten recommendations from the Rochford Review

Thanks to Lorraine Petersen for this article.

After waiting for over six months, the final report from the Rochford Review was published on 19th October, just as many schools were preparing for their half term break.

The Rochford Review was established in July 2015 to review statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. The interim report, published in December 2015 provided an interim solution for reporting outcomes in 2016. It published the interim pre-key stage standards for those pupils working below the expected standard at the end of key stage 1 and key stage 2. The review team then continued discussions, looking at a longer term solution especially in regards to the future of P Scales.

The final report published in October outlines ten recommendations for those pupils who cannot access statutory assessments as they have not completed the relevant programmes of study when they reach the appropriate chronological age. These recommendations will be part of a wider government consultation on primary assessment that will take place in spring 2017.

The ten recommendations are:

  1. The removal of the statutory requirement to assess pupils using P scales.
  2. The interim pre-key stage standards for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests are made permanent and extended to include all pupils engaged in subject-specific learning.
  3. Schools assess pupils’ development in all four areas of need outlined in the SEND Code of Practice, but statutory assessment for pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific learning should be limited to the area of cognition and learning. Continue reading →

Reading in the national tests: how can we rise to the challenge?

Thanks to Deputy Headteacher Michael Tidd for this article. 

It seems that the 2016 reading test may well go down as one of those test papers that we all talk about for years. Like the traumas of “Caves and Caving in Davely Dale” or that wretched ‘fried-egg’ Venn diagram of a few years ago, there are some papers that take on an almost legendary quality. Jemmy the Giraffe is sure to have such fame. The challenge in the key stage 1 test was similarly daunting.

There is almost universal agreement that the texts were more difficult than those we’d seen in the sample test papers. But we need to be careful not to dismiss it as a one-off, pinning our hopes on easier tasks next year. The direction of travel has been clear for a while, and we need to do the best we can to prepare our pupils for challenging texts. While the 2016 paper may have been a particularly difficult paper, the thresholds have clearly shown that the DfE intends for the test to be hard. So, what can be done?

It’s clear from the new tests – and indeed the samples – that more challenging texts will be chosen for reading test papers at both key stages. Perhaps this is a reflection of the government’s intention that children read earlier, more frequently and more widely throughout primary schooling. Certainly this seems a likely outcome of the changes. Schools would do well to look at how they can broaden their children’s reading experience. It’s worth remembering that the National Curriculum clearly sets out that children should be exposed to books and stories which are beyond their reading level. 

Continue reading →

Primary assessment announcement: what does it mean?

Thank you to Deputy Headteacher Michael Tidd for this article. 

As promised, this week Justine Greening announced some changes to Primary Assessment, after the department reflected on the process earlier this year. The changes fall in three main parts: the coasting standard; assessment for lower-attaining pupils; and plans for reform of assessment more generally. Hopefully this will mean that in the next couple of years, schools can be fairly confident of what’s coming up. Consultations will begin in the new academic year about what changes should be made in the longer term.

Assessment in 2017 and 2018… and beyond

The general message here is that there will be relatively little change over the next two years. The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile will continue to be used, as will the current style of KS1 and KS2 tests and Teacher Assessment. The only exception is that the Key Stage 1 Grammar and Spelling test will not be compulsory.

This will mean no new times tables test in Year 6, no phonics check in Year 3, and no new Year 7 resit tests at least for the next couple of years.

It also means that schools will continue to use the “interim” assessment frameworks for Teacher Assessment for the next two years. The department has clearly recognised the challenges presented this year, and has said that additional guidance will be available for 2017, as well as statutory moderation training for Local Authority moderators.

This broad consistency will be welcomed by many in the interim, but it is clear that the department still feels there are areas that could still be improved. We can apparently expect a consultation in the spring term about any alterations to be made in the longer term. Continue reading →

Classroom Monitor National Primary Assessment Survey 2016: the results

In summer 2016, Classroom Monitor launched a National Primary Assessment Survey to find out how schools have adapted to a world free from levels.

What’s included?

The whitepaper includes findings in the following areas.

  • Post levels life: How many schools continue to record assessment against National Curriculum Levels?
  • Personalised v Specialist Solution: How many schools are choosing to create their own framework against those using an off the shelf solution, and how do each rate their success?
  • The way assessment is recorded: Do schools consider a specialist solution worth the time and money? Or are schools better off sticking to traditional means of recording assessment? Continue reading →

Implications for Teaching and Learning 2016

Every year, Rising Stars commissions a team of experienced teachers and consultants to review the Key Stage 2 national test papers and provide analysis of the questions to help schools focus on these areas when preparing children for future tests.

Implications for Teaching and Learning Reports 2016:

  • have been written by an expert team to provide reliable information and analysis
  • can help to inform your preparation for the 2017 national tests
  • can be used in conjunction with the Achieve resources to help improve next year’s results. Continue reading →

Key stage 2 national tests and the shared mission

Thanks to Michael Tidd for this article. 

There’s something of a murmuring among Year 6 teachers that when it comes to SATs, if things go well then the credit is shared across the school, but when things go wrong, it’s the Year 6 team who get the blame. Of course, those who work in other year groups would probably just as soon argue that it’s the reverse that’s true.

The truth is, of course, that Year 6 results are inevitably a representation of the work done by all of the teachers who come into contact with children during their time with us. That’s never been truer than today, as we emerge from analysing the results of the first of the new style tests.

For the past couple of years we have been working blind, only able to draw on our own experience of the curriculum to estimate what might crop up and how best we can prepare our pupils. Now we’ve seen the tests and frameworks for real, we can start to make some more informed changes to how we work – and not only in Year 6.

Naturally thoughts will go first to identifying the gaps that need filling for current Year 6 cohorts. Good assessment in school, linked to our knowledge of the tests can help here. Continue reading →

A guide to standardised tests

We’ve created a handy guide for school leaders and teachers covering:

  • What a standardised test is and why schools might use them
  • How standardised tests are developed and how they work
  • What information a standardised test can give you
  • How this data can support your school’s teaching and learning

Continue reading →

KS2 progress measures: key information and the national picture

Thanks to Deputy Head teacher Michael Tidd for this article.

Head teachers will have been frantically logging on to the DfE website today to find out how their schools have done in the new progress measures following this summer’s new KS2 tests – even though many schools still haven’t started the new term yet! It’s left many of us unprepared, and probably many more scrabbling around for the key login details.

Getting your school’s data

Head teachers will have been sent login details for the Tables Checking website, including a password which was sent out by post last week. For schools whose post is held by the Royal Mail over the holidays, that may now mean an anxious wait. There is a helpline and email address on the Tables Checking site for those who can’t hang on for the postman!

Once logged in, you will be able to complete a data checking exercise, as in previous years, to ensure that data is accurate before it goes into the final version of Raise Online. You’ll also be able to see your school’s progress measures for each of the three key subjects: Reading, Writing and Maths. These scores are all-important for the new floor standard – particularly for the majority of schools who did not reach the 65% attainment thresholds.

These figures are simple numbers, roughly in the range of -10 to 10. A score of 0 in any given subject means that children at your school – on average – made the same progress as others of a similar ability nationally in that subject. Positive scores suggest your children did better than the average nationally, and negative scores suggest that progress was not as good as the national average. Importantly, negative scores do not necessarily mean that your school is in trouble. Continue reading →

Changes to the National Tests and what you need to know – Key Stage 2

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. In my last article, I focused on changes in Key Stage 1. Here is a quick ‘need to know’ guide for Key Stage 2.

Key Stage 2

National Curriculum Tests at Key Stage 2 seem to have changed repeatedly in the last few years, so the changes in 2016 will perhaps be not so much a shock as a feeling of ongoing change. Nevertheless, there are some significant areas that are worthy of teachers’ attention in KS2. 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 major change is the introduction of an arithmetic paper in lieu of the old mental mathematics test. The arithmetic paper will have 35–40 questions, most of which will be worth one mark, requiring use of discrete arithmetic skills ranging from basic addition and subtraction to calculations with fractions. The questions are all in the form of calculations – there are no words. At 40 marks, this paper will make up just over one-third of the total available marks, further emphasising the focus on number and calculations in the new curriculum. Continue reading →