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 →