2016 Key stage 1: assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA)

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Section 4: 2016 national curriculum tests

Includes information about scaled scores, sample test materials, test frameworks, modified test materials and test orders

4.1 Overview of 2016 tests

For 2016, a new set of KS1 national curriculum tests replaces the previous tests and tasks. Schools should no longer use the 2007 and 2009 KS1 test and task materials as they relate to the old national curriculum.

The new tests consist of:

  • English reading Paper 1: combined reading prompt and answer booklet
  • English reading Paper 2: reading booklet and reading answer booklet
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1: spelling
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: questions
  • mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
  • mathematics Paper 2: reasoning

There is no longer a test for English writing.

There won’t be any test-based assessment of writing as part of the KS1 tests. This will be done through teacher assessment.

Teachers can use their discretion to decide if pupils require a break during any of the tests or whether, if appropriate, to stop the test early.

KS1 English reading test

The new reading test has a greater emphasis on the comprehension elements of the new curriculum. There are 2 reading papers, one with the texts and questions combined and one with more challenging texts with the questions in a separate booklet. Both papers must be administered to all pupils.

Each paper will have a selection of unrelated texts of increasing difficulty. There will be a mixture of text genres.

Paper 1 consists of a combined reading prompt and answer booklet. It is expected that the test will take approximately 30 minutes to complete but it is not strictly timed. The paper includes a list of useful words and some practice questions for teachers to use to introduce the contexts and question types to pupils.

Paper 2 consists of a reading answer booklet and a separate reading booklet. It is expected that the test will take approximately 40 minutes to complete but it is not strictly timed. There are no practice questions on this paper.

KS1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test

The new grammar, punctuation and spelling test has an emphasis on technical aspects of grammar. There are 2 papers, Paper 1: spelling and Paper 2: questions. The written task has been removed and writing will instead be assessed through teacher assessment.

Paper 1: spelling consists of an answer booklet for pupils to complete and a test transcript to be read by the test administrator. Pupils will have approximately 15 minutes to complete the test but it is not strictly timed, writing the 20 missing words in the answer booklet.

Paper 2: questions consist of a single test paper focusing on pupils’ knowledge of grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. Pupils will have approximately 20 minutes to complete the questions in the test paper but it is not strictly timed. There will be no contextualised questions in the test (as there were in the initial sample questions).

KS1 mathematics test

In mathematics at KS1, an arithmetic test has been introduced. There are two papers, Paper 1: arithmetic and Paper 2: reasoning.

Paper 1: arithmetic assesses pupils’ confidence and mathematical fluency with whole numbers, place-value and counting. The test consists of a single test paper. It is expected that the test will take approximately 20 minutes to complete but it is not strictly timed.

Some items in the arithmetic test have grids in the answer spaces or working out spaces. The grids are there for questions where the pupils may benefit from using more formal methods for calculations.

Paper 2: reasoning assesses pupils’ mathematical fluency, problem solving and reasoning skills. This test consists of a single test paper. It is expected that the reasoning paper will take approximately 35 minutes to complete but it is not strictly timed. The paper includes a practice question and 5 aural questions. After the aural questions, the time for the remainder of the paper should be approximately 30 minutes.

4.2 Scaled scores

From 2016, scaled scores will be used to report national curriculum test outcomes. Headteachers won’t need to change the way their school prepares for, or administers, the tests because of the introduction of scaled scores.

Scaled scores help test results to be reported consistently from one year to the next. National curriculum tests are designed to be as similar as possible year on year, but slight differences in difficulty will occur between years. Scaled scores maintain their meaning over time so that two pupils achieving the same scaled score in different years will have demonstrated the same attainment.

For the KS1 tests a scaled score of 100 will always represent the ‘expected standard’.

A pupil’s scaled score will be based on their raw score. The raw score is the total number of marks a pupil receives in a test, based on the number of questions they answered correctly. The pupil’s raw score will be translated into a scaled score using a conversion table.

For 2016 KS1 tests, conversion tables will be published on GOV.UK at the beginning of June 2016. Teachers will need to use these to translate pupils’ raw scores into scaled scores to see whether each pupil has met the expected standard.

4.3 Sample test materials

A full set of sample questions and materials has been published for the 2016 KS1 national curriculum tests to help teachers prepare for them.

They have been designed to be as close as possible to the look and feel of the live tests. They can be used by schools as practice tests for pupils prior to the live tests. Modified versions of the sample tests will be published during the autumn term.

Alongside the sample tests are mark schemes and test administration instructions.

4.4 Test frameworks

Test frameworks are also available for each test. Although written primarily for test developers, these may also be of interest to schools.

A description of a pupil performing at the expected standard is included in the test framework; it will be used to set the standard in relation to the test.

Each framework sets out:

  • what will and won’t be assessed in the test
  • how each element of the subject will be assessed
  • the structure of the tests
  • a test performance descriptor that describes the standard a pupil will be expected to achieve on the test in each subject

The performance descriptor describes the range of knowledge and skills that a pupil working at the expected standard will be required to demonstrate in each key stage test, in each subject.

The test frameworks don’t provide information on how schools should teach the new national curriculum. Teachers shouldn’t use the frameworks to guide their teaching and learning.

4.5 Test orders

Maintained schools do not need to place a test order for the standard versions of the KS1 tests. Quantities of test materials will be sent to schools based on their autumn census data.

Independent schools who want to participate in the tests will need to place a test order by Friday 27 November. Special schools, pupil referral units (PRUs), hospital schools and secure units can confirm zero test orders by Friday 27 November, where all pupils are working below the standard of the tests or pupils will not be participating in the tests. Otherwise these schools will receive test materials based on their autumn census data.

4.6 Modified test materials

All schools can order modified versions of the tests, in enlarged print, modified large print and braille, via the ‘Test orders’ section of the NCA tools website until Friday 27 November 2015.

For 2016, braille versions of the tests will only be available in Unified English Braille (UEB).

Access arrangements guidance will be published on GOV.UK and will provide detailed information about the adjustments available for each subject so pupils can access the phonics screening check and the KS1 tests.

4.7 Delivery of test materials

Schools will receive their test materials, including any modified test orders, in the week commencing 18 April 2016.

Materials will be delivered to school addresses taken from EduBase. Schools must make sure their details are up to date by logging in to EduBase via Secure Access. Further information on updating establishment’s records is provided on the Edubase website.

If schools have not received their test materials by 22 April then they should contact the NCA national helpline on 0300 303 3013.

Headteachers must check their delivery against the delivery note to ensure that the correct number and type of test materials have been received. Headteachers must delegate a senior member of staff if they’re not available. If a delivery is incomplete headteachers should contact the national curriculum assessments helpline on 0300 303 3013.