As part of the Government’s reform of the National Curriculum (England) in 2014, the existing system of ‘levels’ used to report children’s attainment and progress was removed and will not be replaced. This system of levels was introduced in 1988 and is now considered obsolete.
The programmes of study within the National Curriculum (NC14) set out expectations at the end of each Key Stage enabling schools to develop a curriculum relevant to their pupils' needs.
Guidance from the Government states that:
The curriculum must include an assessment system, which enables schools to check what pupils have learned and whether they are on track to meet expectations at the end of the Key Stage, and to report regularly to parents.
Key changes to National Curriculum Tests & Assessments
The following changes to the National Curriculum & Assessment is a snapshot of the bigger picture. For more information please visit the Gov.UK website.
The NC14 tests and Teacher Assessment (TA) at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 were reported in levels for the last time in summer 2015.
The first new Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 tests in English, Mathematics and Science, based on the new national curriculum, will be sat by pupils for the first time in the summer of 2016.
The test frameworks for the new tests will be shared with parents in Term 2.
From the academic year 2015-16, testing will move from an absolute measure of progress (i.e. two levels of progress required between KS1 and KS2) to a relative measure.
At the same time, Key Stage 2 test outcomes will be reported as a scaled score, where the expected score is 100.
Pupil progress will be determined in relation to the average progress made by pupils with the same baseline (i.e. the same Key Stage 1 average point score). For example, if a pupil had an average point score of 19 at Key Stage 1, the Standards and Testing Agency will calculate the average scaled score in the Key Stage 2 tests for all pupils with an average point score of 19 and see whether the pupil in question achieved a higher or lower scaled score than that average.
The first time that Foundation Stage 2 to Key Stage 2 progress will be reported is in 2022.
Information from Ofsted
Ofsted do not have any predetermined view as to what specific assessment system a school should use. Inspectors’ main interest will be whether the approach adopted by a school is effective. They will be looking to see that it provides accurate information showing the progress pupils are making. The information should be meaningful for pupils, parents and governors.
National measures for tracking progress from 2016
The DfE published a response to the consultation of the NC14, which sets out its plans to introduce a new assessment and accountability system in 2016. The response document gives an overview of the system rather than explaining the exact methodology of the new progress measure.
The DfE publication explains that a reception baseline will be introduced in September 2015. For schools that use this baseline, the Government will report on progress from reception (Foundation Stage 2) to the end of Key Stage 2.
From 2023, Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 progress will not be reported. If a school is not using the reception baseline from September 2016, it will be judged on an attainment floor standard alone.
What will the floor standards look like?
The DfE explains that from 2016 there will be a primary floor standard with two measures.
A school must meet at least one of these measures in order to meet minimum requirements.
For a primary school to meet the progress floor standard, pupils must make "sufficient progress" in all of reading, writing and mathematics.
For a school to meet the attainment standard, at least 85% of pupils must meet an expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of KS2.
Summary of reforms
New assessments will reflect the more challenging national curriculum. Specifically, the Government will:
introduce more challenging tests that report a precise scaled score at the end of the key stages rather than a level;
make detailed performance descriptors available to inform Teacher Assessment at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. These will be directly linked to the content of the new curriculum;
improve the moderation regime to ensure that teacher assessments are more consistent.
The accountability system will reflect the raised expectations of primary schools. The Government will:
set a challenging aspiration that 85% of children should achieve the new expected standard by the end of primary school. Over time they will expect more and more schools to achieve this standard;
introduce a new floor standard, which will be based on the progress made by pupils from Foundation Stage 2 to the end of primary school. This will be underpinned by a new assessment in reception that will capture the school’s starting point from which progress will be measured. A school will fall below the floor only if pupils make poor progress and fewer than 85% of them achieve the new expected standard;
require schools to publish information on their websites so that parents can understand both the progress pupils make and the standards they achieve.
What will the new assessments look like?
There will be different approaches to assessment through a child’s education and development, using the most appropriate approach for capturing children’s learning at each stage and to complement on-going teacher assessment:
the existing statutory two-year-old progress check undertaken in early years settings;
a short reception baseline that will sit within the assessments that teachers make of children during reception;
a phonics check near the end of Year 1;
a teacher assessment at the end of Key Stage 1 in mathematics, reading, and writing, informed by pupils’ scores in externally-set but internally-marked tests (writing will be partly informed by the grammar, punctuation and spelling test); and teacher assessment of speaking and listening and science;
national tests at the end of Key Stage 2 in mathematics; reading; grammar, punctuation and spelling; and a teacher assessment of mathematics, reading, writing, and science.
Key Stage 1
At the end of Key Stage 1, teacher assessment in mathematics and reading will be informed by externally-set, internally-marked tests. There will also be an externally-set test in grammar, punctuation and spelling which will help to inform the teacher assessment of writing. The tests will be updated to reflect the new national curriculum and will be expressed as a scaled score, with the new assessments first taking place in Summer 2016. Teacher assessment of speaking, listening and science will continue.
Key Stage 2
At the end of Key Stage 2, pupils will continue to sit externally-set and marked tests in mathematics, reading, and grammar, punctuation and spelling. These will be used for school performance measures from July 2016 onwards. As now, there will continue to be teacher assessment in mathematics, reading, writing and science to give a broader picture of children’s attainment. In common with Key Stage 1, the tests and assessments will reflect the content of the new curriculum.
A sample of pupils will continue to sit tests in science to give a picture of national performance.