The DfE this week praised English primary schools for the continued progress of children. The performance tables, published on 10th December, indicate that 90,000 more children are leaving primary school with a ‘good grounding’ in the essential subjects compared to results in 2010.
Over on his blog, deputy head Michael Tidd has conveniently summarised the DfE’s latest instalment of information on statutory moderation requirements for 2016. It includes the new earlier dates that Teacher Assessment judgements must be submitted:
Thanks to deputy headteacher Michael Tidd for this article
No sooner have we finished one set of Key Stage assessments, than attention inevitably turns to the next lot! But things are a little different this year. We’ve had minor tweaks before, of course, but usually with a little more notice. Summer 2016 is looking to be rather different.
So, what do we know for certain – and what still remains unanswered?
Schools have been volunteering to trial Reception Baseline Assessments, which will take place for the first time in 2015. Most schools are likely to take part from 2016 when the EYFS profile becomes optional, although in theory there’s no compulsion to use a baseline at all. However, schools who don’t use one will find themselves being judged purely on attainment in 2022 – which is not as far away as it seems.
We don’t yet know…
How the outcomes of the tests will be compared, with schools completing one of several completely different tests (of which the DfE are still yet to confirm the final approved list).
Key Stage 1
The phonics test remains in Year 1, and for those who do not reach the required standard again in Year 2.
The big changes are in Year 2 where a new grammar test will be introduced alongside new versions of the reading and maths tests. All of these will produce a scaled score instead of a level outcome. Teacher Assessment will still be required for all those areas as well as speaking & listening and science. Continue reading →
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, so here is a quick reference guide to the new tests. We’ll start with Key Stage 1 in this first article but ensure you return to the Rising Stars blog for the Key Stage 2 instalment next week.
Key Stage 1
The big shift for all the tests at KS1 is the return of annually updated tests. Although teachers will still mark the tests internally, they will no longer have the choice of old papers to use; new tests will be produced each year, meaning unfamiliar content for every cohort. 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 first major change is the introduction of an arithmetic paper. The first paper will have 25 questions, each worth one mark, requiring use of discrete arithmetic skills ranging from knowledge of number bonds to simple fraction work. This paper will make up almost half of the total available marks, further emphasising the focus on number and calculations in the new curriculum. Continue reading →
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.
As this year’s National Test cycle draws to a close, we asked Y6 teacher and Upper KS2 Phase Leader Dave Witham from Plumcroft Primary School for his feedback on the difficulty and content of this round of tests.
Although Dave’s children reported tough questions in the level 6 GPS and Reading papers, on the whole, the impression was of a fair set of tests to accurately assess a child’s progress, strengths and weaknesses.
Level 6 (GPS, Maths and Reading)
Grammar Spelling and Punctuation
Proposed changes to the GPS paper (Plumcroft Primary took part in the trials!) didn’t materialise and the short answer paper was ‘more of the same’ from level 3-5. Spellings were very challenging and we’re still building a list of examples for the children. The writing element was very predictable and nothing to really challenge the children if they are a strong and solid level 5 writer.
The children struggled to get through the reading paper, although this was expected as it’s a tough ask in the amount of time given.
As usual, all the information was presented and ‘disguised’ to really sort out the truly gifted mathematicians; however again, a fair test.
Level 3-5 (GPS, Reading, Maths and Mental Maths)
Grammar Spelling and Punctuation
The GPS paper threw up few challenges and the spellings covered were representative of suggested patterns. Continue reading →
Michael Tidd is Deputy Headteacher of a primary and nursery school in Nottinghamshire, having previously taught in middle and primary schools in West Sussex. We asked him for his thoughts on summative assessment in the new curriculum. Here’s what he had to say.
You don’t need a test to supplant teacher assessment, but it certainly helps to support it!
The chances are, any school you go into across the country this academic year, you’ll likely find different things going on with regard to assessment. In some schools, National Curriculum levels are a distant memory; in others, you’d never know that they were meant to be going. But probably for the vast majority of schools, teachers are finding their way from one system to another in an attempt to ensure that nobody slips through the cracks.
But the cracks can feel like a chasm at the moment. If your school is one of the many running two systems in parallel, with a view to removing levels in time for September, then the coming months probably feel quite daunting. None of this is helped by the lack of clear information from the Department for Education. We know that end-of-key-stage tests will underpin many judgements, but we still don’t know quite what level the thresholds will be set at. We know that teacher assessment will remain important, but we saw the Performance Descriptors consultation rounded upon by all sectors. In fact, all we do know for certain is how little we know for certain.
As we approach the end of the year, therefore, many schools will be looking to make combined judgements, summarising this year’s achievements using levels, and trying to set a benchmark starting point for future judgements in the brave new world of life after levels. Continue reading →
In July the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) published sample questions, mark schemes and commentaries for the new National Curriculum tests that will be introduced from summer 2016. There are separate samples for English reading, English grammar, punctuation and spelling and mathematics for each of Key Stages 1 and 2 and also for the new Key Stage 2 sampling test for science. These can all be downloaded from the DfE website. The final versions are due to be published in July 2015.
These exemplars do not give a complete picture of the new tests. For example, they do not
- include full sample tests (there is a selection of questions instead)
- reflect the curriculum coverage of the final tests
- reflect the ratio of question types that will be in the final tests
- reflect the range of question difficulties that will be in the final tests.
What the exemplars do provide however is an indication of how the new elements of the curriculum will be tested. Note that STA do not recommend that the sample questions be used for assessment purposes as they have not been fully trialled – they are for guidance only.
The sample questions focus on the new areas of the curriculum and there are repeated references to ‘increased demand’. In general, the level of difficulty of questions is higher overall and pupils need to do more to achieve one mark than they do currently.
The language around what each question is testing is a useful introduction for teachers to some of the jargon being used for analysis of Depth of understanding, Computational complexity etc. Such analysis means the test writers will have to be more careful about the overall difficulty level and think very carefully about what the pupil has to do in the process of answering each question. This should lead to improved year on year consistency. Continue reading →
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 →
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.
|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|
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.