1. How are you using this resource?
Pupils in Year 1-5 take the PUMA and PIRA tests three times a year which helps with admissions testing, testing the levels of students coming into the school.
2. Why did you choose this resource?
When I arrived just over a year ago our assessment system was a little clunky and there was little consistency. Some students were taking the same test they had sat the year before. We decided to try PIRA and PUMA last year and the feedback from teachers was overwhelmingly positive, not just on the standard of the test but the ease of use. The feedback that it gives to teachers coupled with the self-marking element through MARK is just fantastic. It otherwise takes a lot of time to mark papers manually so teachers really appreciate that. They also really appreciate the gap analysis and the pupil reports.
In terms of specific teaching challenges that we wanted to overcome, the biggest thing for me was to have an easy to use gap analysis that teachers could take straight into teaching. Previously, our testing was for the sake of testing, so we could get a score on the page, whereas with PIRA and PUMA our testing is just the starting point, we get this really productive gap analysis that goes straight into individual teachers’ teaching plans and we’re plugging those gaps much more effectively that we were able to before.
3. What are the main benefits of the resource?
It’s easy to use, easy to set up and very child friendly. Not only is our testing now all online but the results of those tests are stored there and easy to access whenever we need them. The gap analysis and other reports are so useful, not only for class teachers but for parents and school leadership.
It’s difficult to say at the moment whether we have evidence that the tests have helped to raise student attainment because we have just had several months of lockdown and online learning. Even if our levels are lower following online learning we will be in a position to really analyse that. Having the gap analysis and this kind of data will form part of the school’s recovery process. Having the tests online meant that we were able to assess some students when they were at home which gave us a good overview of our students learning during this period, which we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
4. Does the resource engage your learners? How?
The children really enjoy the tests. We use them either on desktop computers or iPads and one of the big benefits for me is that the children don’t feel as though they’re being tested, which takes away a lot of the stress during our Assessment Week. They find the tests challenging but there’s a really enjoyable element as well.
5. How have you used the resource to track progression and achievement?
We take the standardised and age-standardised scores and keep those recorded. We track these from Year 1s onwards as part of our long term goals to track progression and achievement. The vast majority of our students are ESL, but the level of English is high in our school. Tenses etc can be an issue, but generally we find that the level of language is pitched at the right level for our school.
6. How has it helped to direct your teaching plans?
We find it most useful to look at our gap analysis to get our quick wins, the analysis really helps to inform the teaching plans. Hopefully we then see that progress outlined in our next round of assessments.
7. Have you found the resource easy to use?
We’ve found it incredibly easy to use, not just the tests themselves but MARK as well. It was easy to set the school up at the start, and I know that the class teachers find it really easy to login and get the reports and analyses when they need them. As Assessment Lead, you know a system works really well when you don’t have a million emails asking ’how do I do this or that?’ and I think that really shows the ease of use. At the end of a day’s testing I can sit with the teachers and analyse the results and know which interventions we need to put in place. As an Assessment Lead I don’t have to go to teachers and ask them to fill in a spreadsheet to upload marks which does really save me time. As a teacher, marking a full class set of reading tests can take several hours, whereas the Interactive tests give you immediate results, so you can see the kind of time that’s being saved across the whole school. Having access to the data on an online platform is also much more efficient than having piles of papers in my office.
8. Was there anything that you don’t like about it?
Actually no! It works really really well for us. To be honest, we initially decided to use PIRA and PUMA as a temporary measure but when I spoke to my year group leaders afterwards they were very keen to continue!
9. Would you recommend this resource to other schools? Why?
Yes we would. You get absolutely everything that you would get from a written paper but the speed that you get that result is just on a different level.
10. Any other comments:
The ease of use for both teachers and pupils. We get a lot more value out of it because teachers love it and they’re not dreading using it. The only real query that teachers had was would it be rigorous enough in terms of the language used, particularly with PIRA because of the length of texts. It would be useful to have some sort of video to show to teachers explaining how it links back to the national curriculum.