Primary school accountability in 2016: key updates

From today, (September 1st 2016) primary schools will be able to access and check their own provisional progress data. The Department for Education has also released further information on progress thresholds, writing assessment points and pupils below the standard of the test, which we’ve summarised below.

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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 →

2016 School Performance Tables – what can we expect?

Thanks to Nick Hart for this helpful summary.

Key stage 2 SATs are over for another year.  Individual children’s results have been known for a couple of months now thanks to NCA Tools and consequently we know the percentages of our cohorts that met the expected standard for Year 6.  When the DfE publish the school performance tables in December 2016, we’ll know a little more about how we’ve done.

The headline measures of performance remain: attainment, progress and therefore whether or not the floor standard has been met.  In addition to the attainment data that we already know, we’ll see the proportion of children that attained the higher standard, which consists of scaled scores of 110+ in reading and maths and a greater depth judgement in writing.  The much talked about progress measure (comparing individual children’s progress against the average progress made by children nationally with similar starting points) will arrive too.  Our cohort’s average progress will be the overall progress measure for our school.  Then, of course, these measures are used to judge whether or not we have met the floor target.  With just 53% of pupils nationally attaining the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and national average scaled scores of 103 for reading and maths, many leaders will be waiting on that progress data… Continue reading →

What can we learn from the 2016 KS2 reading test?

Thanks to Shareen for sharing the following five tips for teachers.

Many schools have reported that the KS2 reading paper this year was more difficult than expected, so we asked Shareen Mayers to share her thoughts on what we can learn for next year.

  1. Ditch the old SATs papers!

After visiting many year 6 classrooms this year, I noticed that teachers were still using old reading papers which have a different focus and style to the new test. For example, the new test has an increased emphasis on understanding vocabulary in context. The beginning of the 2016 reading paper was much harder than before, with questions that seemed reminiscent of the old level 4 right from the start of the paper. Though few, there are some practice papers available that are fully in-line with the new-style tests, so it is worth utilising these so that the complexity of the test is not such a surprise next year.

  1. Explicitly teach new vocabulary

One of the starkest changes this year was the emphasis and focus on pupils understanding vocabulary in context. A huge percentage of the questions were focused on this new content domain. This can be achieved through exposing pupils to a wide range of texts, especially texts from our literary heritage. A free download that can support teachers with teaching strategies is the old National Strategies booklet: Teaching Vocabulary EffectivelyPage 9 has some great tips to support teachers with ideas and strategies. Continue reading →

Scaled scores at key stage 1

In summer 2016, primary schools will use teacher assessment judgements to report on children’s progress at the end of key stage 1. These judgements should take into account a child’s performance in the national tests in mathematics and English. This year, the Department for Education will use scaled scores to report the outcomes of the national tests. The number of marks that children will need to score in order to reach a scaled score of 100 in 2016 has now been released. Have a look at our brief summary below for further information.

What is a scaled score?

A child’s scaled score is based on their raw score. The raw score is the total number of marks a child scores in a test. You can calculate a child’s raw score by adding together the total scores from both papers in each subject. For example, to calculate a child’s raw score for English reading, simply add together the scores from both the English reading Paper 1 and English reading Paper 2.

A scaled score of 100 will always represent the expected standard on the test. Children scoring 100 or more will have met the expected standard. The raw score is converted into a scaled score, using the conversion table here

The marks required to reach a scaled score of 100 at KS1 in 2016 are:

– Maths: 37 out of 60

– Reading: 22 out of 40

– Grammar, punctuation and spelling: 25 out of 40 Continue reading →

What will be the future of writing assessment?

Thanks to Michael Tidd for the following article. Posted May 2016. 

It seems fair to say that the interim teacher assessment frameworks have not been warmly welcomed this year. With Year 6 tests out of the way, and Year 2 tests swiftly following suit, attention is turning now in school to the process of teacher assessment for 2016.

Particularly in Writing, that process this year involves a lot of searching for technical features and punctuation throughout pieces of writing – and not much appreciation for the quality of the overall product. Teachers have quickly had to become adept at spotting hyphens and dashes, or finding ways of including exclamation sentences in seven-year-olds’ writing.

For now, it’s a system we’re stuck with, and teachers will find the best ways they can of dealing with it. These Writing Checklists will help both teachers and their students to provide the relevant evidence for this year, but what of the future? What are the alternatives?

Common Tasks

One possible alternative is the return of tests. They probably wouldn’t return in their current form, having not that long ago been scrapped, but it would be possible to insist on the completion of common tasks nationally which could return to being externally assessed. One of the significant issues also exists in the current systems – teacher assistance. Having seen coursework at GCSE scrapped because of the difficulties of ensuring a level playing field, it seems that anything short of test conditions could be fraught with difficulty. Continue reading →

Update to Key Stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test administration guidance

The Department for Education has announced that in 2016 there will be no requirement to administer the KS1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test or to use the result as part of that assessment. You can read the full administration guidance on the DfE website here. 

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Writing Moderation – Clarification and Updates on Key Changes

Thank you to Shareen Mayers for the following helpful summary of recent updates and changes in writing moderation. 

The following article includes useful information about:

  • Writing moderation changes
  • Using the Interim Assessment Frameworks to assess pupils’ writing 
  • KS1 and KS2 Writing Materials
  • Clarification of handwriting and joined up/cursive handwriting for KS1 and KS2
  • Gathering evidence – what does ‘independent writing’ mean?
  • Essential requirements for schools
  • Official STA Clarification of the frequency of evidence in each piece
  • STA Clarification on exclamations for KS1 and KS2

Every LA has the flexibility to carry out the moderation process according to local needs. However, it is statutory to use the Interim Assessment Framework as a checklist to check that pupils have met the ‘working towards’, ‘expected’ or ‘greater depth’ within the expected standard. Continue reading →