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 →

Statutory teacher assessment requirements from 2016

As well as stressing the importance of ongoing formative and summative teacher assessment, the DfE Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools document also provides details of the statutory National Curriculum teacher assessments that will take place from summer 2016.

Key Stage 1

The subjects for which there will be statutory teachers assessment at Key Stage 1 are shown in the table below.

Subject Additional information
Reading TA informed by test scores
Writing TA informed by test score for GPS
Speaking and listening
Grammar, punctuation and spelling
Mathematics TA informed by test scores
Science

This is similar to current requirements but with the addition of teacher assessment of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Instead of a National Curriculum level, teachers will report teacher assessment results by deciding which new performance descriptor each pupil best meets.

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 new National Curriculum: key dates for assessment

The new National Curriculum is now being taught and schools are working to establish assessment systems that work in a world without levels. The Department for Education will be releasing more information over the coming year and some aspects of the new arrangements will not take place for some time. The table below is a summary of the key dates for the next few years to help primary schools see what is happening and when.

Continue reading →

How Rising Stars New Curriculum Assessment meets the DfE’s new assessment principles

The DfE’s new assessment principles have been produced to help schools prepare to implement new assessment arrangements for tracking pupil progress against the new National Curriculum.

These principles are also designed to help schools choose published assessment resources from suppliers.

Together with the supporting Progress Trackers, the Rising Stars Progress Tests were specifically written to help schools track pupil progress in reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling, mathematics and science.

The summary table below identifies in detail how the Progress Tests meet each of the DfE assessment principles. 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 →

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 →

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 →