Department for Education publicly release test materials from this year’s Key Stage 2 national tests

On 22nd May 2017 the Department for Education have publicly released the test materials from this year’s Key Stage 2 national tests.  These include test papers and mark schemes for Maths, English reading and English grammar, spelling and punctuation sat by KS2 pupils in May 2017. Continue reading →

What are the benefits of regularly checking children’s attainment?

Thanks to Camilla Erskine for this article.

What are the benefits of regularly checking children’s attainment?

The main purpose of checking attainment is to see how children are doing in relation to what has been taught and using the information from that process to inform teaching. Assessment plays a key role in monitoring attainment in this way and this article illustrates its use for both summative and formative purposes.

Teachers will have a good sense of how each child is performing from their day-to-day teaching, but summative assessment can provide independent evidence of attainment to school leaders, parents and the children themselves. The information from such assessment can also challenge assumptions and preconceptions and offer more nuanced information about how a child is doing, potentially highlighting ‘blind spots’ or gaps in knowledge.

How can attainment be checked?

Regular attainment checks throughout the year, for example at the end of a unit of work or on a half-termly basis, can be carried out using a range of assessment resources. These can include tests and tasks created within the school or published materials. The main advantage of using assessments developed by teachers is that they are written specifically to reflect what has been taught over the period for which attainment is being monitored. This approach, however, is time consuming and is not something that everyone feels confident in doing, or has the experience to do effectively. Continue reading →

A Guide to KS2 Writing Moderation in 2017

Primary girl for assessmentWe understand that consistent writing moderation is a challenge. That’s why we’ve worked with Shareen Mayers – primary teacher, English Consultant and certified KS2 Writing Moderator – to create this FREE Guide to KS2 Writing Moderation to support schools through every step of the process.

The guide includes support with:

  • best practice for writing moderation
  • preparing for a moderation visit
  • spelling and word lists
  • making judgements about children’s writing.

It also includes practical top tips and key information about writing moderation.

Download your FREE Guide to KS2 Writing Moderation here.

Are you looking for resources to support writing assessment and moderation? Take a look at free samples of our Writing Assessment Tasks. Continue reading →

Primary School Performance Tables

Achievements of pupils in state-funded primary schools in England have now been published.

Just 5 per cent of primary schools have been announced as being below the floor standard.  Schools are considered under-performing if fewer than 65 per cent of pupils fail to reach the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, or if they fail to make sufficient progress in these three key areas.

Continue reading →

Vocabulary in the KS2 2016 reading test – sprint or marathon?

Thanks to Shareen Mayers for this article on vocabulary in the KS2 reading test.

Since the release of the 2016 KS2 reading test, I have been thinking about the vocabulary element in great depth. I have read endlessly about encouraging pupils to read for pleasure, shared reading, skimming and scanning and engendering a love of books, and I whole-heartedly agree with this but something told me to look deeper at the actual words that pupils were expected to know and understand. Indeed, they all seemed a little closer to home than I expected!

To my surprise, most of the words tested were a part of the national curriculum spelling appendix for KS1 and KS2. Words like ‘dangerous,’ ‘curious’ and ‘unique’ are even listed as non-statutory words within the national curriculum and the spelling rules/areas shown in the table below are all in the national curriculum. Of course, we cannot predict the vocabulary but this was interesting to note.

When teaching spellings, it is also important that pupils understand their meaning in different contexts as well as being able to spell them and use some/most of them in their writing.

Continue reading →

Tennyson Road Primary School, Luton

This year’s key stage 2 results paint a national picture of schools struggling to deal with the demands of a tough new curriculum. Just 53 per cent of 11-year-olds reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths in 2016, a drop from 80 per cent in 2015.

But the performance tables reveal that some primaries are coping with the challenge better than others.

At Tennyson Road Primary, in Luton – an authority where results overall were below the national average – 100 per cent of children reached the expected level across the board.

And pupils didn’t just scrape it – average scaled scores (where 100 represents the expected standard) were 109, 110 and 111. To set the achievement in context, the school has a high proportion of pupils with English as an additional language, high mobility and high deprivation. Children start reception with below national average development.

Tennyson Road is an “outstanding” school and used to performing well. However, two years ago, when the results in Year 5 assessments were below what was expected, Head teacher Hilary Power knew the school had to raise its game.

Continue reading →

Standards and Testing Agency video resources

We recently shared the key takeaways from the November 2016 Standards and Testing Agency webinars on primary assessment. The STA have now released videos of these webinars, along with other informative videos on themes such as ‘Understanding Scaled Scores’. You can watch these in their media and training area here.

Continue reading →

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 →

2017 Assessments Webinar: KS1 and KS2

On 15th November 2016, the Standards and Testings Agency broadcast a webinar on 2017 assessments. We’ve summarised the key points below.

Key stage 1 assessments: an overview

  • There will be no new test types introduced before 2018/19.
  • The consultation on the future of primary assessment will commence early next year.
  • Thursday 29th June is the KS1 teacher assessments submission deadline.
  • The KS1 spelling and grammar test will remain optional for 2017. Schools who wish to use it can still download materials from NCA tools.

Key stage 2 assessments: an overview

  • There will be no new test types introduced before 2018/19.
  • The consultation on the future of primary assessment will commence early next year.
  • Year 7 re-sits will not be introduced.
  • A statutory multiplication times tables check will be going ahead, but not before the 2018/19 academic year.

Key stage 1 assessments: key questions answered

Last year, the DfE changed its expectations regarding handwriting for writing assessment. Are there any changes this year?

No. To reach the expected standard,  handwriting is not a necessary component.

Do children have to pass phonics check to be considered as meeting the expected standard in reading? 

No. If teachers want to include the phonics check as evidence of a child meeting expectations that is okay, but there is no formal requirement for a child to pass to be considered ‘working at expectations’.

Will the test results have to be reported to the LA? 

No. The tests are there to help inform teacher assessment which will then need to be reported to the DfE. LAs can ask to see tests as part of moderation visits.

Should P Scales still be used to assess children with SEN?

Yes. One of the recommendations from the Rochford Review is to make P Scales non-statutory; however, for this current academic year, P Scales remain statutory and should still be used.

What classes as independent in terms of spelling for a child working at the expected standard in writing?

Any resources that the child accesses independently e.g. words on the wall or in the dictionary (providing they choose to use these resources themselves) are acceptable. An electronic resource that suggests spellings for a child automatically would not be considered independent, nor would a teacher’s suggestion to check spellings.

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 →