New KS1 and KS2 tests frameworks and sample papers published

On 29th June, the Department for Education published the final key stage 1 and 2 national curriculum test frameworks and sample papers for 2016, which will be used primarily by test developers and the Standards and Testing Agency throughout the test development process.

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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 →

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 →

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 Key Stage 2 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.

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 .

The key sections of the framework documents are:

  • the nature of the test (particularly the test format)
  • the content assessed
  • the ‘cognitive domain’ in other words the thinking skills and intellectual processes 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 the core subjects. The tests focus on what can be assessed in a paper-based, written, externally-marked 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 Key Stage 2 tests is at the threshold of the expected standard.’ These characteristics are intended as a general guide rather than a prescriptive list. In order to achieve the expected standard, children will have been able to engage with all questions within the test, even if they have not answered them all correctly.

Below is a summary of the four frameworks for Key Stage 2: reading; grammar, punctuation and spelling; mathematics and the sampling tests for science.  A separate summary of the frameworks for Key Stage 1 will be published soon. Continue reading →