In July 2013, the DfE released a document detailing changes that will be made to the primary assessment processes with regards to the introduction of the new national curriculum that will be rolled out in primary schools from September 2014. We’ve put together a quick run through of the key proposals that teachers should know about.
Teacher assessment and reporting to parents
National curriculum levels and level descriptions will be removed and not replaced. The idea behind this is to provide schools with curriculum freedom and allow them to focus not on a set of unclear level descriptions, but on the essential knowledge that all pupils should learn.
The new national curriculum programmes set out what pupils should have learnt by the end of each key stage. How schools will teach their curriculum and track the progress pupils make will be for them to decide. There will be a clear separation between ongoing, formative assessment (controlled by schools) and the statutory summative assessment which the government will set to provide robust external accountability and national benchmarking.
Teachers will continue to track pupil’s progress and provide regular information to parents. How they do so will be for schools to decide, remembering that the best schools give parents much more regular information.
The DfE will work with teaching schools, professional associations, subject experts and others to highlight a range of potential approaches for schools that exemplify good practice.
National curriculum tests
Statutory national curriculum tests at KS1 and KS2 will continue. The first tests based on the new curriculum taking will take place in summer 2016, after pupils have been taught the new national curriculum for two years.
The new national curriculum tests will be more demanding, with a higher and more ambitious expected standard. This will ensure that pupils who clear the bar are genuinely ready to succeed in secondary education.
Because it is not possible to create tests of precisely the same difficulty every year, the number of marks needed to meet the secondary readiness standard will fluctuate slightly from one year to another. To ensure that results are comparable over time, the DfE has proposed to report national curriculum tests using a scaled score, and compare pupils against the national cohort by decile (i.e. 10% of the cohort).
External school-level accountability is important, but must be fair. In particular, measures of progress should be given at least as much weight as attainment. In order to measure pupils’ progress, the DfE will report how each pupil performs at KS2 compared to pupils with similar prior attainment.
The combination of scaled score, decile ranking and progress measures will provide clear and detailed information on how each pupil has performed.
Baselines to measure progress
The DfE has proposed to either retain a baseline at the end of KS1 using end of KS1 national curriculum tests (which would be introduced in summer 2016), or introducing a simple baseline check at the start of reception (making the EYFS Profile non-statuatory). Whichever baseline is introduced will depend on the feedback received.
A baseline check early in reception would allow the crucial progress made in reception, year 1 and year 2 to be reflected in the accountability system and would reinforce the importance of early intervention.
The department’s floor standards will focus on threshold attainment measures and value-added progress measures, and may also include an average point score attainment measure. Schools would be required to achieve either the progress measure or both the threshold and average point score measure to be above the floor.
Ofsted will focus their inspections more closely on schools just above floor standards, and inspect schools with good performance on these measures less frequently.
The key threshold attainment measure will be set at a much higher level. All schools should aim for at least 85% of their pupils to reach the secondary standard. The idea behind this is that very few pupils should leave primary schools without being secondary ready. This standard allows some flexibility to recognise that a small number of pupils may not meet the expectations in the curriculum because of their particular needs.
The DfE will publish a wide range of attainment and progress data, both from national curriculum tests and teacher assessments, through the data portal. This will allow schools, governors and parents to find and analyse data about schools in which they are most interested. All measures will be published as three-year rolling averages in addition to annual results, making it easier to identify trends in school performance. The DfE have also proposed to compare each school’s data with that of schools with similar intake, allowing schools, parents and the public to benchmark their performance and providing Ofsted with information that will better inform an inspector’s decision over a school’s grade.