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 →

To level or not to level

For many of us, levels are an intrinsic part of the National Curriculum. We’ve come to view the notion of progression through levels from the ages of 5 to 14 as a key element of teaching and assessment. We’re also used to being held accountable for the progress made, and justifying the work we do, by identifying how the pupils we teach are now working at a higher level.

It’s a vagary of the calendar, but not one that my own children are reluctant to exploit, that I started teaching not only in the previous century but in the previous millennium (thanks guys). It’s certainly true that I taught in a pre-National Curriculum levels system; whereas there was more freedom, I’m not sure we used it well and I’m certainly not inclined to hark back to it with longing (apart from the music).

ASSESSING PROGRESS AND OUTCOMES AGAINST THE NEW NATIONAL CURRICULUM

We’re now faced with the challenge of deciding how best to assess progress and outcomes through new programmes of study. There’s no expectation to use levels, but we do need to track pupils effectively.

Which way now?

I think it’s important to start with looking at the purposes of assessment. I would suggest that there are multiple outcomes and that a good system needs to provide all of these. In essence we need to use assessment to:

  • inform next steps in teaching
  • provide meaningful feedback to pupils on what they’ve done well and how to improve
  • provide evidence for accountability
  • communicate to parents and carers how their children are doing.

Are levels (or a reworked system thereof) the answer?  What do they offer? 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 →

The Rising Stars Assessment advisory team

The Rising Stars New National Curriculum range has been reviewed, trialled and tested by a team of assessment experts and advisory schools.

Assessment Advisers

Bob Penrose, Assessment Consultant
Bob started work as a teacher and progressed to working for AQA for 33 years as variously Subject Manager, Project Manager for World Class tests and finally as Principal Manager for Technology. He spent a year on secondment to Becta as Head of e-Assessment developing their e-assessment strategy. Bob was a founding member of the e-Assessment Advisory Group and represented AQA for eight years. He has been a board member of the e-Assessment Association for three years and remains a member.

Sue Walton, Assessment and Publishing Consultant
Sue Walton worked in educational publishing before joining the Assessment Division of QCA in 2000. While at QCA, Sue was Project Director for the KS3 ICT Onscreen Test Project and also for eVIVA, a research project exploring the use of e-porfolios for formative assessment.

Cornwall Learning
Cornwall Learning were series advisers on the Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment range:

‘These assessments will provide a way for you to track attainment through the primary years in the absence of levels. They will allow you to determine whether your pupils are reaching or exceeding expected progress and where to provide extra support if necessary. The challenge embedded in the assessments will ensure pupils aspire to their full potential.’
Sally Griffin
Programme Director, The Inspire Curriculum at Cornwall Learning Continue reading →

Ofsted and assessment

THE PHASING OUT OF NATIONAL CURRICULUM LEVELS

National Curriculum levels will cease for Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 at the end of this academic year and for Years 2 and 6 at the end of the 2014/15 academic year. In future schools will be expected to make their own decisions about how to assess pupils. This has implications for future Ofsted inspections, which currently rely heavily on National Curriculum level-related data in RAISEOnline.

HOW OFSTED PLAN TO INSPECT SCHOOLS

This excerpt from Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech at the North of England Education Conference in January 2014, illustrates what Ofsted will be looking for when carrying out their inspections:

Good schools have always tracked their pupils’ progress and Ofsted will expect to see this continue. We will not endorse any particular approach. But we do expect every school to be able to show what their pupils know, understand and can do through continuous assessment and summative tests.

I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t set targets for children to achieve at the end of any key stage. I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t use assessment to establish whether children are hitting those targets. I have never seen a good or outstanding school that doesn’t have summative tests at the end of each year.

Regular testing has received a bad press in recent years, as if it were somehow separate and antithetical to the business of education. It is not. It is an essential tool that allows students and their teachers to assess progress. Continue reading →