Assessment accessibility considerations
When designing our assessments we carefully consider accessibility. It is important to us that our assessments can be used by as many pupils as possible, including neurodivergent pupils. We ensure that this consideration is built into the design of our tests from the start and reviewed throughout the development process. This spans many areas of our assessments, which we have laid out below.
Fonts are selected very carefully by our expert design team: the majority of fonts chosen are sans serif for ease of decoding. The size of fonts in each test is appropriate for the age of pupils intended to take the test. In some of our reading texts, pupils are shown a range of fonts and layouts to mirror what they are likely to encounter in their general reading and in national exams. These are carefully designed to increase in complexity through the years as pupils build stamina and exposure
New PiRA Summer 3 and NTS Reading Summer 4
The layout of each question is important. As part of our page design, we ensure question text layout is clean and without distractors so that pupils can get immediately to the heart of what they are being asked. For maths assessments in particular, questions are spaced out in order to provide sufficient working out space; where relevant they are also included in separate boxes for clear differentiation between one question and the next.
New PUMA Spring 2 and NTS Reading Autumn 2
Images are included to enliven reading texts and are incorporated alongside relevant maths questions to provide illustrative or concrete support. Images are never placed where they would be a distractor.
New PUMA Autumn 4 and NTS Reading Spring 4
A pale tan background is applied to many of our tests to support legibility on screen and in print. For our print-only NTS assessments we have used a white background as this range is designed to mirror National Tests. For these assessments we recommend that any pupils who may struggle with this are given the same support as they would receive in their National Tests.
Many of our maths assessments for younger pupils are accompanied by scripts and/or audio support so that reading level is not a barrier to demonstrating mathematical ability.
We commission accessibility reviews and product teacher reviews for our assessments, looking at wording, layout, content, expected answers and much more. We work closely with our reviewers to discuss and implement their feedback.
Our standardised assessments are standardised on the full ability range (1), so are representative of the current pupil population as far as possible. We always gather and implement feedback on clarity, accessibility and answer ranges from schools during trialling.
Test administration advice
If you have pupils who are likely to require exam access arrangements for their Key Stage Two SATs, you should administer our assessments using the same access arrangements as well as allowing for any arrangements that reflect a pupils’ normal classroom practice such as using a coloured overlay. Along with extra time (2), access arrangements could include: a scribe, transcribing all or part of a pupil’s test script, word processors or other technical or electronic aids, readers, rest breaks, prompters, accessibility objects for mathematics tests and highlighter pens. Further advice can be found in the DfE’s Key Stage 2 access arrangements guidance which can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/940830/2021_KS2_AA_V1.0.pdf
Some teachers find it more effective to work with small groups for younger years – say five or six pupils of similar ability – so that a break can be taken if required. From Year 4 upwards, whole classes may be tested together, unless one or more pupils are very weak readers – in which case, support from a teaching assistant may be helpful, to work closely with an individual or with a small group of pupils of similar ability.
Any additional adaptations from the test administration guidance and mark scheme provided with an assessment should be taken into account when looking at pupils’ results.
Paper or interactive?
Both our paper and interactive assessments are accessible for the vast majority of pupils, and so usually school needs will determine which is chosen by your school. For pupils with dyslexia or similar difficulties with reading and writing, we advise use of the paper tests for reading assessments instead of interactive versions, as marking will need to be more individualised than the interactive coding can provide.
For versions of our assessments to support pupils with visual impairment, please do get in touch with Alison.Lapthorn@rsassessment.com, or otherwise by using the form on the following page www.hoddereducation.co.uk/rightsandpermissions, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org We will be happy to review your needs on a case by case basis.
(1) With the exception of our assessment Diagnostic Reading Analysis (DRA), whose standardisation sample was representative of the pupils the test is designed for (weaker readers or pupils with specific difficulties). A greater proportion of the pupils who took part in the 2019 standardisation trial were chosen from the bottom half of the reading-ability range to create a more valid and reliable assessment. To provide norm-based standardisation scores for reading and comprehension metrics, the scores of the DRA sample were equated to the results the pupils gained when they took an appropriate primary or secondary reading test that had been standardised on fully representative samples (PiRA and ART).
(2) Some tests, such as the Access Reading Test, have specific instructions for allowing extra time, and scores with and without extra time can be considered together.