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 →

2017 interim frameworks for teacher assessment

Statutory interim frameworks to support teachers in making assessment judgements for each pupil at the end of key stage 1 and key stage 2 in 2017 have been released.

The interim frameworks set out the standard(s) a pupil will be assessed against at the end of each key stage for reading, writing, mathematics and science.

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 →

The “intelligence toolkit” approach to measuring pupil progress

Following the removal of levels, schools across the country have been getting to grips with how to measure pupil progress in a way which works best for them (rather than simply re-creating a system of levels).

Simon Cowley, a teacher from The White Horse Federation, has written a blog describing their approach which focuses on knowing the child, rather than on collecting statistical data that is not relevant to improving pupil outcomes. He refers to their approach as using the “intelligence toolkit”, which we’ve summarised below.

The “intelligence toolkit” is about:

  • observing and understandinglearning behaviours of a learner – how do they engage with learning and how can teachers best enable this
  • understanding whatwork scrutiny is telling you with regard to pace, precision, thought and the developmental processes over time
  • statistical data, the benchmarking against national norms which tell you if a child is working within age related expectations
  • understanding theemotional intelligence of the learner, the personal attributes which help you to focus the learning experiences to gain maximum output
  • mapping curriculum coverage, understanding if the learning deficit is because of an inability to understand or an act of omission in the curriculum previously taught
  • theagility of transference, how well is a pupil able to transfer prior learning by being a discerning and discriminating user of that which they know.

Rather than collecting statistical data throughout the year, teachers are given electronic progression sheets for reading, writing, maths and science. The sheets monitor curriculum coverage and gaps in learning, and have clear performance statements that teachers can use to inform them about whether a child is on track to meet expectations. Continue reading →

2016 teacher assessment exemplification materials now published for English, mathematics and science

The 2016 teacher assessment exemplification materials are now available for Key Stage 1 and 2 in English, mathematics and science. These exemplification materials have been published by the Department for Education to support teacher assessment of each pupil at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2.

Continue reading →

Do Less, But Better: A Mantra for Teaching (and Testing)

Thank you to Michael Tidd for this insightful article. 

I have something of a mantra in teaching: Do Less, But Better. I try to do less marking, but make it of higher quality; I spend less time on planning pro formas but plan better sequences of lessons; often I ask children to write less in their books, but make each sentence better.

Testing is no exception: less testing, but better. The slight twist here is that less testing, for me, means more tests. It sounds paradoxical at first, but it’s an important differentiation. Testing can be long-winded and onerous, while achieving little. I can’t be alone in having spent hours marking multiple test papers only to come up with a sub-level that I could have guessed for myself. The old ways of testing were too driven by numbers.

Now I probably use tests more than ever, but the key is in selecting tests purposefully and keeping them as tight as possible. No longer do we run through past papers in full depth. Instead, I choose the right questions to match the key points I’ve been teaching, and use as short a test as possible to achieve the understanding I need. We know, too, from wide-ranging research, that the ‘testing effect’ can actually help children to secure the learning they’ve undertaken as the retrieval of that knowledge or skill can help to cement the understanding. Continue reading →

Can uncertainty be liberating when it comes to primary assessment?

With thanks to Deputy Head Michael Tidd for this thought-provoking article.

They say that ignorance is bliss, and the past few years have provided us with a whole host of unknowns to add to our blissful state!

Except, when you’re a teacher on whom the education of 30+ pupils depend, working in a system of strong accountability and high stakes, the unknowns are often simply unnerving. I sometimes feel like I’m trying to second-guess what’s in the mind of the Department for Education and trying to work out what ‘expected’ looks like.

All of which would be easier if it was fixed in stone well in advance. We’ve already seen in the past year how tweaks are still being made to the system. Last summer, I can’t have been alone in worrying about the outcomes for my pupils on the Optional Tests. Now as we approach the first set of statutory tests, we know that things are perhaps not quite as bad as they first seemed.

The test frameworks were republished in July, and changes contained within them suggest a slightly less frightening expectation for the forthcoming tests. But we have to come to terms with the fact that for a year or two yet, we just won’t be able to say with certainty how many marks will be needed to reach ‘the expected standard’.

Once you accept that, it can actually be quite liberating. Instead of worrying about the individual points and the tallies on test results, we can instead look at what children can and can’t do, and explore ways of helping all children to make better progress. Continue reading →

Writing exemplification materials and the implications for teaching

Thank you to Maddy Barnes for this article. 

As English lead at a one form entry primary school and LA moderator in Manchester, I have eagerly awaited the writing exemplification materials. Like many, I have spent time analysing what the main implications for teaching will be in order to ensure that as many of our pupils achieve at least the expected standard at KS1 and KS2.

These are my main findings:

I was very reassured to see within the annotated materials the section that references the commentary of the piece as a whole, its overall composition in terms of appropriateness to purpose and audience, its organization and cohesion and any edits made during the process. This confirmed that although purpose and audience are not explicitly referred to in the interim framework statements, they are considered as part of the assessment. I will be re-enforcing the message in my setting that in order for our pupils to write at their best, we must provide a high quality stimulus (picture book, extract, object, text, film clip, picture etc.…) and analyse the purpose of the writing and the nature of the audience.

It also pleased me to find that the large majority of pieces of writing included at both KS1 and at KS2 were writing activities related to a text – Anne Fine, Shakespeare, Julia Donaldson, Gareth Edwards, Philippa Pearce, C.S. Lewis and Michael Morpurgo are some listed. As we are a school that teach English around a book, I feel that we are indeed ‘doing things right.’ Pupils are emerged in a high quality text, they read and analyse the language before planning a piece of writing that they will later edit and proof read. Continue reading →