May 2018

Curriculum

We're giving away free tests every week!

To show you just how valuable Assessment Bank is, we're giving away FREE tests every week for 6 weeks!

This week's FREE test - Year 5 Spelling test resource

Many schools have told us that the spelling paper in the SATs was particularly challenging, so this week we're giving you a Year 5 Spelling Test, written specifically for the new curriculum to help you identify gaps in children's learning and prepare for the demand of the national tests. 

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Assessment

What can we learn from the 2017 KS2 reading and grammar test?

What can we learn from the 2017 KS2 reading and grammar test?

Thanks for Shareen Mayers for the following article.

After the challenging reading paper in 2016, many teachers were pleasantly surprised by the 2017 reading paper. The questions seemed to be a little more accessible and the texts appeared to be more relevant to year 6 pupils, especially the English Channel text. Shareen Mayers shares some of her key top tips for teachers and schools!

You can view the 2017 test papers here.

Reading

1. Explicitly teach new vocabulary

Once again, the KS2 reading paper had a huge percentage of questions focussed on understanding vocabulary in context (20%). This was the same percentage as last year but some of the words were more familiar. Interestingly, the vocabulary used are all linked to the KS1 and KS2 spelling rules. For example, -ed words, -al words, -ous words and -ing words. Therefore, the spelling rules can also be used to support the pitch of vocabulary that teachers need to expose pupils to in every year group. Please see my blog on vocabulary in the KS2 reading paper.

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Assessment

Department for Education publicly release test materials from this year’s Key Stage 2 national tests

On 22nd May 2017 the Department for Education have publicly released the test materials from this year’s Key Stage 2 national tests.  These include test papers and mark schemes for Maths, English reading and English grammar, spelling and punctuation sat by KS2 pupils in May 2017.

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Assessment

Key Stage 2 National Tests 2017: Thoughts and feedback from Deputy Head Michael Tidd

Thanks to Michael Tidd for this article.

Well, that’s that all over with for another year! After all the hard work – of both teachers and students – over the past months and years, the SATs finally came and went. So what did we make of them? It certainly could have been worse!

Reading

Those of us who suffered through the traumas of the Reading test of 2016 were prepared for the worst on Monday, and in most cases were pleasantly surprised. That’s not to say that it was easy, but it did at least feel fair. In 2016 even the first text seemed designed to cause nightmares for us all, and the first few questions didn’t help. For 2017 we were treated to a tolerable, if not gripping, text about a cat in a tree and some multiple choice questions to ease us in.

My one complaint? Dropping a bit of Spanish into a reading test seems a little unfair. If you speak Spanish fluently or not at all, then maybe it’s not so bad, but how many Year 6 children up and down the country spent valuable seconds trying to translate the Spanish based on their rudimentary Key Stage 2 knowledge?

Grammar

On Tuesday morning I was praying to the spelling gods for kind words. And then they gave us ‘coarse’. But first, the grammar to get through. For the second day in a row I found myself using the word “fair”. I tend not to look too closely at what children are writing during tests, because it only upsets me, but with the grammar test, the first answer I doubted when looking over somebody’s shoulder turned out to be correct: I’d not read the question properly!

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Assessment

The benefits of standardised tests

With many thanks to James Pembroke, founder of independent school data consultancy Sig+, for sharing his take on the benefits of standardised tests.

There are a wide spectrum of tests carried out in schools from the regular, mini tests that teachers use as part of their day-to-day practice to check pupils' understanding, to the statutory end of key stage assessments that we can’t avoid. In between those sit the optional, externally set, standardised tests from third party providers, and it’s those that we are focused on here.

Some schools are opposed to introducing any form of standardised tests fearing that they may deter pupils as well as undermine the value of teacher assessment; others use them sporadically, perhaps not making full use of the data they provide; and then there are those schools that use them every term for all year groups as the main tool for monitoring standards. Clearly there are diametrically opposed viewpoints when it comes to standardised tests with some teachers seeing them as invasive and unnecessary whilst others consider them to be a highly effective tool.

Crucially we want assessment to provide us with useful information that can be acted upon so before implementing any new form of test we need to ask ourselves one vital question: will it tell us anything we don’t already know? With any well designed standardised test, the answer is almost certainly yes - the pros outweigh the cons – and I’ve outlined the numerous benefits below.

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Curriculum

Our exciting new partnership with Educater

We are delighted to announce an exciting new partnership with Educater to incorperate Rising Stars Progression Frameworks into their STATonline primary assessment tool!

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Assessment

What are the benefits of regularly checking children’s attainment?

Thanks to Camilla Erskine for this article.

What are the benefits of regularly checking children’s attainment?

The main purpose of checking attainment is to see how children are doing in relation to what has been taught and using the information from that process to inform teaching. Assessment plays a key role in monitoring attainment in this way and this article illustrates its use for both summative and formative purposes.

Teachers will have a good sense of how each child is performing from their day-to-day teaching, but summative assessment can provide independent evidence of attainment to school leaders, parents and the children themselves. The information from such assessment can also challenge assumptions and preconceptions and offer more nuanced information about how a child is doing, potentially highlighting ‘blind spots’ or gaps in knowledge.

How can attainment be checked?

Regular attainment checks throughout the year, for example at the end of a unit of work or on a half-termly basis, can be carried out using a range of assessment resources. These can include tests and tasks created within the school or published materials. The main advantage of using assessments developed by teachers is that they are written specifically to reflect what has been taught over the period for which attainment is being monitored. This approach, however, is time consuming and is not something that everyone feels confident in doing, or has the experience to do effectively.

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Curriculum

Embedding Writing Skills in History

Stuart Tiffany and Bev Forrest discuss how to build on core writing skills and encourage reluctant writers with imaginative and engaging history lessons.

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Curriculum

Grasping grammar terminology ahead of the national tests

We’ve extracted the used terminology from 2016’s test papers from our Implications for Teaching: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling report to help you identify the correct grammar terminology your children should be learning and identifying in the tests.
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Curriculum

Maths: the big ideas

The beauty of maths lies in the interconnectedness of ideas and concepts yet this concept of relationships is often lacking in children who struggle with maths.  Mike Askew, Professor of Education at Monash University, Melbourne, has written about what he calls the big ideas of maths.  These help connect different areas of mathematical understanding, yet are small enough to understand in their own right.  

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