New Curriculum Assessment Glossary

Rising Stars has reached out to primary school teachers across the country through focus groups and social media to find out which new curriculum assessment terms teachers find tricky. We’ve included an explanation of each of the terms below. If there are other terms you’d like us to add, we’d love to hear from you! Tweet us at @risingstarsedu or email nellie.perrin@risingstars-uk.com with your suggestions.

Age-related expectations

These refer to what children are expected to know by the end of each year (for the core subjects) or key stage (for all other subjects) based on the requirements of the new national curriculum. They are stated within the programmes of study for each subject.

Baseline assessment

‘Baseline’ assessment involves the collection of data from assessing children on entry into a particular year or key stage. This initial data serves as a basis for measuring progress against throughout the year, in subsequent years or key stages. The Department for Education has introduced the reception baseline, a baseline assessment in reception, to improve how primary schools’ progress is measured. From September 2015, schools have the option to sign up to use the reception baseline from an approved provider. In 2022 the DfE will use whichever measure shows the most progress: either a schools’ reception baseline to key stage 2 results, or their key stage 1 results to key stage 2 results.

Floor Standard

The floor standard for a school defines the minimum standards for pupil achievement and/or progress that the Government expects schools in that particular phase of education to meet. If a school’s performance falls below this floor standard, then the school will come under scrutiny through inspection. Continue reading →

Is the new written arithmetic paper in the National Tests on your radar?

The new arithmetic paper in the 2016 national tests

A good deal of focus on the new curriculum and its assessment arrangements over the past months has been on the higher expectations in maths and grammar, and on the complex problems that appear in the two problem solving and reasoning papers in the new KS2 tests for maths. Understandably teachers have focused on how they can adapt their curriculum to meet those new higher standards, but one change seems still to be just off the radar of many schools.

May 2015 saw the final statutory mental maths test undertaken by Year 6 pupils leaving KS2. Since 1998, around 10 million Year 6 children have taken the tests and thousands of teachers have doubtless been responsible for teaching those children the skills they need to meet the requirements of the test. The change, from next summer, to a written arithmetic test is not an unsubstantial one.

Up and down the lands schools can still often be found carrying out a weekly mental arithmetic practice test – indeed my own school still makes good use of the Rising Stars New Curriculum Mental Maths Tests because the skills are still essential for good mathematics. But our focus now needs to turn as well to the important element of the arithmetic test.

From next summer, children in both Year 2 and Year 6 will face a written arithmetic test as part of the end-of-key-stage statutory assessments, so alongside good practice in mental maths, schools need to start putting preparations in place to support our children in tackling this new test.

What’s involved at Key Stage One?

There will be a single arithmetic paper that requires some mental recall of facts as well as some calculations appropriate to the national curriculum expectations. Continue reading →

Understanding Scaled Scores

The DfE has published information for headteachers, teachers, governors and local authorities about scaled scores and the national standard from 2016. You can read the full guidance on the DfE website here, and as this new method of reporting results can seem a lot to get your head around at first, we’ve summarised what we think are the key points below.

Why introduce a scaled score?

A new national curriculum brings the need for new national tests, which the STA will produce for Year 2 and Year 6 pupils to sit in May 2016. You can view information on the test frameworks and sample materials released by the DfE on 29th June here. These materials intend to give teachers a better understanding of the structure and content of the new tests.

In the new national curriculum, levels have been abolished. The government have said they took this decision partly in response to concerns about the validity and reliability of levels and sub-levels, but also because they were deemed a driver of ‘undue pace through the curriculum, which has led to gaps in pupils’ knowledge.’ The DfE are therefore changing how test performance is reported and from 2016 they will use scaled scores to report national test outcomes (a method used in numerous other countries).

So, what is a scaled score?

Using scaled scores enables test results to be reported consistently from one year to the next. Though national tests are designed to be as similar as possible every year in terms of demand, slight differences do occur. Scaled scores, however, maintain their meaning over time, so if two children achieve the same scaled score on two different tests, they will have demonstrated the same attainment. Continue reading →

New KS1 and KS2 tests frameworks and sample papers published

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.

Continue reading →

Ten key themes from Colin Watson’s Education Show presentation

Colin Watson is the Deputy Director of Assessment Policy and Development at the DfE. Unsurprisingly his presentation at the Education Show this morning was ‘standing room only’ as hundreds of teachers gathered to hear his update on assessment for Primary schools. We thought it would be useful to summarise some of the key themes for those of you who were unable to get to the NEC today.

  1. Levels are not in line with the freedom intended to come with the new curriculum and the accountability system did not allow for great work to be recognised, therefore levels are not to be used with the new curriculum.
  2. Formative assessment is vital in classrooms every day but it is the responsibility of schools and not something central government should be involved with.
  3. New national tests mean a new floor standard has been raised. 85% of children will be expected to achieve a scaled score of 100 by the end of primary school.
  4. A school will only fall below this floor if pupils make poor progress AND fewer than 85% achieve the expected standard in national KS2 tests.
  5. The scaled score is yet to be determined and can only be decided using real data from the first set of new tests.
  6. The new progress measure will be a ‘value-added’ measure rather than an ‘expected level of progress’ measure. Continue reading →

The new National Curriculum tests: What can we infer from the sample questions?

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 →

Assessment approaches developed by teaching schools

In October 2013 the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) invited teaching schools to bid for small-scale research funding to investigate assessment of the new National Curriculum now that there are no longer levels. A report summarising this research, Beyond Levels: alternative approaches developed by teaching schools, is now available.

34 teaching school alliances took part in the research, which involved 238 schools including 153 primary schools. Three priorities emerged from the research:

  • development of assessment tools to support individual progress
  • development of assessment tools to capture and record progress
  • use of technology to track attainment and progress.

Further details of each of these are provided below. Continue reading →

Changes to Ofsted inspections from September 14

Ofsted letter to Headteachers

Ofsted has recently written to Headteachers alerting them to changes to inspections that will start from 1 September 2014. This follows publication of the Note for inspectors: use of assessment information in 2014/15.

The key details of relevance to primary schools are:

  • the introduction of a separate graded judgement for the early years;
  • an increased focus on how well school leaders tackle low-level disruption and ensure that pupils’ conduct and attitudes to learning are good;
  • greater attention on whether or not a school’s curriculum is broad and balanced and promotes tolerance of and respect for people of other faiths, cultures and lifestyles;
  • details as to what evidence Ofsted will use given the demise of National Curriculum levels.

The letter also outlines the criteria that will be used for unannounced inspections for 2014/15.

Ofsted and assessment information

The note for inspectors provides details of the assessment evidence that Ofsted will be using in 2014/15 to judge learning and progress recognising that there will be a mixed economy for the next year as schools start to migrate to the new curriculum and assessment arrangements. Specifically:

  • Pupils in Years 2 and 6 will still be taught the old National Curriculum so their attainment and progress will continue to be tracked and measured using levels.
  • For other pupils, apart from those in Year 1, there will be historic data expressed in National Curriculum levels as well as assessment data collected against the new Programmes of Study.
  • Additionally, some schools may choose to move away from the use of levels immediately, others may do so more gradually. In 2014-15 inspectors will recognise that schools are likely to be still developing their preferred new assessment system. Continue reading →