Assessment and accountability for primary schools: What is proposed and what does it mean?

The government has finally published its long awaited response to the consultation on primary school assessment and accountability, which closed in October 2013. The response is published in the 24 page document called Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools. The consultation gathered responses from 1187 individuals and organisations, of which 27% were from primary school headteachers and a further 27% from primary teachers.

The stated aims are two-fold. First, to ‘set high expectations so that all children can reach their potential and are well prepared for secondary school’ so that no child is allowed to fall behind  and second,  ‘to celebrate the progress that pupils make in schools with more challenging intakes’.

So what is proposed?

To help schools identify the key challenges posed by the proposals, Rising Stars has provided the following short overview of the key points from the document.

Day-to-day assessment

  1. The document states thatnationalassessments will take place at key points during a child’s primary education, but makes clear that at other times there will be no national prescription. Teachers will therefore be free to use their own methods for day-to-day assessment of their pupils, to inform teaching and to feedback to pupils and parents about attainment and progress.
  2. The document emphasises that good teachers assess children on a regular basis. To help with this the government launched an ‘Assessment Innovation Fund’ in December for schools or groups to bid for up to £10,000 each to develop easy-to-use approaches to pupil assessment for other schools to use free of charge. The expectation was that up to 10 bids would be successful with the results announced towards the end of April. No information has been provided as to when the approaches will be available for other schools to download and use. Continue reading →

Rising Stars New Curriculum Assessment FAQs

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. Continue reading →

The Rising Stars Assessment author team

The Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment range has been written by a team of specialist teachers and advisers.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Progress Tests

Marie Lallaway has led English teams from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 across 25 years of teaching. She has contributed to the development of national and international English teaching and assessment materials, and conducted research on behalf of national agencies.

Mathematics Progress Tests

Trevor Dixon has over 30 years’ teaching experience in primary schools and has led mathematics in three schools. Trevor has written assessment materials for Letts, OCR and Pearson Edexcel, as well as Rising Stars. He has been involved with writing questions for KS1 and KS2 SATs Mathematics papers and has been involved in trialling these questions in schools; furthermore he has worked as a KS2 SATs Mathematics marker for a number of years. Trevor is an associate of the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching of Mathematics.

Jenny Lawson has taught Mathematics at all levels, from the basic concepts of counting for special needs children through to A level Mathematics, and consulted on the training of teachers in Numeracy Key Skills. Her publishing career includes the co-authorship of GL Assessment’s Measuring Success in Maths Years 1-5 and she has written Years 3 and 4 for the Rising Stars Learn, Practise, Revise range which is used in lower Key Stage 2. Jenny has written sample SATs material for Years 5 and 6 and is completely conversant with the previous curriculum and the changes in moving to the new curriculum. Continue reading →

The Rising Stars Assessment advisory team

The Rising Stars New National Curriculum range has been reviewed, trialled and tested by a team of assessment experts and advisory schools.

Assessment Advisers

Bob Penrose, Assessment Consultant
Bob started work as a teacher and progressed to working for AQA for 33 years as variously Subject Manager, Project Manager for World Class tests and finally as Principal Manager for Technology. He spent a year on secondment to Becta as Head of e-Assessment developing their e-assessment strategy. Bob was a founding member of the e-Assessment Advisory Group and represented AQA for eight years. He has been a board member of the e-Assessment Association for three years and remains a member.

Sue Walton, Assessment and Publishing Consultant
Sue Walton worked in educational publishing before joining the Assessment Division of QCA in 2000. While at QCA, Sue was Project Director for the KS3 ICT Onscreen Test Project and also for eVIVA, a research project exploring the use of e-porfolios for formative assessment.

Cornwall Learning
Cornwall Learning were series advisers on the Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment range:

‘These assessments will provide a way for you to track attainment through the primary years in the absence of levels. They will allow you to determine whether your pupils are reaching or exceeding expected progress and where to provide extra support if necessary. The challenge embedded in the assessments will ensure pupils aspire to their full potential.’
Sally Griffin
Programme Director, The Inspire Curriculum at Cornwall Learning Continue reading →

Ofsted and assessment

THE PHASING OUT OF NATIONAL CURRICULUM LEVELS

National Curriculum levels will cease for Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 at the end of this academic year and for Years 2 and 6 at the end of the 2014/15 academic year. In future schools will be expected to make their own decisions about how to assess pupils. This has implications for future Ofsted inspections, which currently rely heavily on National Curriculum level-related data in RAISEOnline.

HOW OFSTED PLAN TO INSPECT SCHOOLS

This excerpt from Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech at the North of England Education Conference in January 2014, illustrates what Ofsted will be looking for when carrying out their inspections:

Good schools have always tracked their pupils’ progress and Ofsted will expect to see this continue. We will not endorse any particular approach. But we do expect every school to be able to show what their pupils know, understand and can do through continuous assessment and summative tests.

I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t set targets for children to achieve at the end of any key stage. I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t use assessment to establish whether children are hitting those targets. I have never seen a good or outstanding school that doesn’t have summative tests at the end of each year.

Regular testing has received a bad press in recent years, as if it were somehow separate and antithetical to the business of education. It is not. It is an essential tool that allows students and their teachers to assess progress. Continue reading →

Assessment in a world without levels

by Sue Walton, assessment consultant and part of the Rising Stars Assessment advisory team.

The wait for information about the Government’s proposals for assessment in primary schools was a long one and it wasn’t until July last year that we finally had sight of the proposals – and there were some surprises!

THE PROPOSALS IN OUTLINE

A key change was the abolition of national curriculum levels and level descriptions. The Government plans to give schools the freedom to carry out day-to-day formative assessment however they choose. So it will now be up to schools to decide what assessment regime they follow.

However, schools will still need to be able to demonstrate that pupils are making progress against the new curriculum. This means they will need to decide what evidence to collect to show to Ofsted and also what and how they report to parents.

These proposals mean that not only do schools now have a new curriculum to prepare for,  they also have to create a new way of tracking their pupils’ progress. This will be challenging. The new attainment targets have very general wording. They state that ‘by the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study’. This is all well and good, but how should teachers go about deciding that each pupil can in fact apply and understand the curriculum as well as ‘know’ it? For example, does the pupil just need to demonstrate a skill in maths once, or do they need to do it several times? Continue reading →

Rising Stars Assessment and the NAHT Commission report

The NAHT Commission on Assessment has recently published its report (February 2014).

The report makes several recommendations and also lists a set of underpinning principles to use in determining whether or not assessment is fit for purpose.

How do the Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment Progress Tests meet these principles?

THE FIRST PRINCIPLE IS THAT ASSESSMENT SHOULD BE AT THE HEART OF TEACHING AND LEARNING.

The Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment Progress Tests are specifically designed to identify strengths and weaknesses in learning and to provide evidence so that teachers can check how pupils are progressing and adjust their planning and teaching accordingly. Opportunities are also provided for pupils to discuss what they have done well with their teacher and to agree next steps that will help them to achieve even more.

ASSESSMENT SHOULD ALSO BE FAIR, HONEST AND AMBITIOUS.

The Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment Progress Tests recognise that pupils will be working at their own pace. So, for each subject, tests become increasingly more demanding to ensure challenge and stretch for the more able. Progress is matched to the relevant new National Curriculum Programme of Study. Marks for each test are compared against three zones of progress so that teachers can see quickly whether pupils are working towards the expectations for their year group, meeting the expectations or exceeding them.

The CD-ROM versions of the tests include a Progress Tracker Excel workbook, which can be used to collect all the test information for a given subject and year. This provides additional progress information and can be used to generate individual pupil reports. Whole class data can be exported into the school’s MIS also. Continue reading →

Welcome to the Rising Stars Assessment Community site

Welcome! This website will keep you up to date with all the latest news and information from the DfEOfsted and others. We will guide you through the transition to assessment in the new national curriculum with advice from our team of experts.

Want to receive monthly assessment updates from Rising Stars direct to your inbox to save you time? Sign up via your My Rising Stars account by selecting ‘assessment’ as one of your preferences.

The Commission on Assessment Without Levels

The Commission on Assessment Without Levels published a report in September 2015 to provide advice and support to schools in developing new approaches in a world free from levels. Their final report can be found here.

 Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 National Tests

In 2016, schools sat the new national tests for the first time. This was also the first year that the results were reported as scaled scores. You can download a guide to the 2016 KS2 national tests results here.

Key Stage 2 Progress Measures

The DfE has released new progress measures following the 2016 national tests. Find out more here.

Primary School Accountability

Read the technical guidance on primary accountability and school-level progress measures here.

Support for teachers

In response to the removal of levels, Rising Stars has produced a range of high quality resources for the new curriculum, which are now used by over 8,500 schools! We also offer one-day national conferences to support teachers with the latest knowledge, plus a number of helpful training events with tailored CPD across a diverse range of topics. Head to the Rising Stars website to find out more. Continue reading →