FAQs: Using my termly standardised assessment papers outside of the recommended test windows

Due to school closures we have received a number of questions from teachers about how our termly standardised assessment suites (PiRAPUMAGAPS and NTS Assessments) can be used outside of the recommended test windows to evaluate what pupils have learned, as well as understanding which areas they need more help with when they return to the classroom. We have put together this list of FAQs to help guide you.

Only the current editions of PiRA and PUMA are suitable for baselining. This is because the New PiRA and New PUMA Summer papers do not publish until Spring 2021.

Is it suitable to use the Summer tests my pupils should have taken, or even the Spring tests, to check retention and gaps in learning upon return to school (in June/September 2020)?

Please refer to our diagram that outlines recommended test windows as well as our blog about baselining post-lockdown.

As our school will be catching up on content missed or not retained, before we move on to current year teaching, is it suitable to use test papers later in the year than usually advised?

Yes, our standardised tests (paper and interactive) are designed to assess content usually taught by November, March and June of each year. If teaching is re-organised for the 2020/21 academic year then it is appropriate to move the test window and assess children once you have finished teaching the relevant content. Our curriculum maps show what content is covered by each test and will help to inform your school about when would be an appropriate time to test. In these extraordinary circumstances, given that the tests will be used outside of the usual timeframe and following a long period of absence, it will be particularly important to interpret results alongside teacher judgement.

Will reports provide the same performance measures, with the same reliability, if my pupils take a test outside the recommended time of year?

Yes, tests and reports will provide the same measures, but schools should consider which to include in their analysis of pupils’ performance and interpret these alongside teacher judgement. For specific advice about age-standardised scores, please see below.

Will I be able to obtain age-standardised scores for pupils if they sit papers intended for the year below?

For most test suites, yes. This is because age-standardised scores are provided for wide age ranges that will capture the majority of pupils. For NTS Assessments, the range is slightly narrower than other suites so, if you wish to obtain age-standardised scores, please read the question below for advice.

My school plans to baseline using NTS Assessments in September. Which papers will enable us to obtain age-standardised scores?

If the Spring papers are used to baseline in September, children born in September to November will be outside of the range for which an age-standardised score is provided. If the Summer papers are used to baseline in September, all children will still be within range to look up an age standardised score. This is not to downplay the usefulness of Spring papers as a valuable baselining tool, but schools may find it more useful in this instance to look at other measures, such as facility values, strand performance and NTS Scale.

What change in outcomes am I likely to see among my pupils?

It is not yet known what effect school closures will have on pupils. While it is likely that you’ll see some divergence from expectations, if you work closely with assessment maps and the test is taken once material has been taught, this will provide a good benchmark for pupil attainment. Reporting will help you to identify whether this has been a wholesale change for your school’s cohort or whether, more likely, there are certain pupils who have been more affected than others.


Can I use the Gap Analysis - School Export in MARK to review my school's baseline data?

The Gap Analysis – School Export in MARK looks for both the date range and the test paper (Autumn, Spring or Summer). So, for example, when you select ‘Autumn’ it ensures that only Autumn test papers taken in the Autumn testing window are included. This means that pupils who have taken papers outside of the recommended date range will show in the correct marksheet in MARK, but will not show in the school export.

When using assessments outside of the usual testing window, we recommend that you use the marksheet Gap Analysis Export to review test data, as this will include all pupils and all attempts of the selected paper, regardless of when it was taken. A bulk export option is not available for this, so you will need to export each marksheet individually using the ‘Show Gap Analysis/Export’ > ‘Gap Analysis Export’ buttons in the top right corner of each marksheet.

We have worked with experts to make suggestions about which of our resources will help you to effectively support the wellbeing and academic development of your pupils and identify gaps in understanding. Click here to download our guide to evaluating pupil understanding in uncertain times.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your local Assessment Consultant.

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