Section 4: 2016 national curriculum tests
Includes information about the new 2016 tests, 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 KS2 national curriculum tests has been introduced consisting of:
- English reading: reading booklet and associated answer booklet
- English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1: short answer questions
- English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling
- mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
- mathematics Paper 2: reasoning
- mathematics Paper 3: reasoning
KS2 English reading test
The English reading test will have a greater focus on fictional texts. There is also a greater emphasis on the comprehension elements of the new curriculum. The test consists of a reading booklet and a separate answer booklet.
Pupils will have a total of 1 hour to read the 3 texts in the reading booklet and complete the questions at their own pace. There will be a mixture of genres of text. The least-demanding text will come first with the following texts increasing in level of difficulty.
Pupils can approach the test as they choose: eg working through one text and answering the questions before moving on to the next. The questions are worth a total of 50 marks.
KS2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test
The new grammar, punctuation and spelling test has a greater focus on knowing and applying grammatical terminology with the full range of punctuation tested.
The new national curriculum sets out clearly which technical terms in grammar are to be learnt by pupils and these are explicitly included in the test and detailed in the new test framework. It also defines precise spelling patterns and methodologies to be taught, and these are the basis of spellings in the test.
There will be no contextual items in the test.
As in previous years, there are two papers, Paper 1: questions and Paper 2: spelling.
Paper 1: questions consists of a single test paper. Pupils will have 45 minutes to complete the test, answering the questions in the test paper. The questions are worth 50 marks in total.
Paper 2: 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, by writing the 20 missing words in the answer booklet. The questions are worth 20 marks in total.
KS2 mathematics test
There are 3 papers; Paper 1: arithmetic; Paper 2: reasoning; and Paper 3: reasoning.
Paper 1: arithmetic replaces the mental mathematics test. The arithmetic test assesses basic mathematical calculations. The test consists of a single test paper. Pupils will have 30 minutes to complete the test, answering the questions in the test paper. The paper consists of 36 questions which are worth a total of 40 marks.
The questions will cover straightforward addition and subtraction and more complex calculations with fractions worth 1 mark each, and long divisions and long multiplications worth 2 marks each.
Papers 2 and 3 each consist of a single test paper. Pupils will have 40 minutes to complete each test, answering the questions in the test paper. Each paper will have questions worth a total of 35 marks.
In some answer spaces, where pupils need to show their method, square grids are provided for the questions on the arithmetic paper and some of the questions on Paper 2.
4.2 Scaled scores
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 KS2 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. The pupil’s raw score will be translated into a scaled score using a conversion table.
For the 2016 KS2 tests STA will publish test results on the NCA tools website on 5 July 2016. Each pupil registered for the tests will receive:
- a raw score (the number of raw marks awarded)
- a scaled score
- and confirmation of whether or not they attained the expected standard
Conversion tables for the 2016 tests will also be published on GOV.UK on 5 July so schools can understand how pupils’ scaled scores are derived from their raw scores.
4.3 2016 sample test materials
A full set of sample questions and materials has been published for the 2016 KS2 national curriculum tests to help teachers prepare for the 2016 tests.
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 for KS2 are 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 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 KS2 tests. Quantities of standard test materials will be sent to schools based on their autumn census and pupil registration data.
Independent schools who want to participate in the tests will need to place a test order by Friday 27 November and complete pupil registration by Friday 18 March.
4.6 Delivery of test materials
Schools will receive test materials, including modified materials, in the week commencing 25 April.
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 Friday 29 April then they should ring 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. The transparent inner bags must not be opened. Headteachers must delegate the checking of the materials to a senior member of staff if they’re not available. If a delivery is incomplete headteachers should contact the NCA helpline.
Schools won’t receive mark scheme packs for the standard tests or mark scheme amendments for the modified tests. These will be published on the NCA tools website on Monday 23 May.
4.7 Modified versions of the tests
All schools can order modified versions of the tests, enlarged print, modified large print and braille, via the ‘Test orders’ section of the NCA tools website until Friday 27 November.
Braille versions of the tests will be available in both Standard English Braille (SEB) and Unified English Braille (UEB).
Schools should read the guidance about ordering materials for pupils with a visual or hearing impairment and should refer to the sample materials provided before placing their order.