Using GPS Progress Tests to improve children's vocabulary

We use the Progress Tests series of resource books to provide ‘quiz’ type snapshots of children’s progress in reading and grammar. With a full six tests per book there is plenty of material to use as whole tests or, as we also do, break up into mini assessment check sheets with a few questions to attempt (similar to using Question Bank).  In this way, pupils throughout Key Stage 2 begin to acclimatise with the format and style of SATs questions.  In Year 6, we use a few questions two weeks after each teaching unit to check retention of new material and to ascertain which concepts need to be revisited.  It is a challenge at times to move new learning over into pupils’ long-term memory with so much material in the GPS curriculum being taught at pace. We need regular AfL to keep track of how pupils are doing with regards to retaining new information.

Last year, we used more of the language and vocabulary questions from GPS Progress Tests to give us feedback as to how children were coping with such questions in a formal test format.  In Year 5 at the beginning of the summer term, children demonstrated very few strategies for working out word meanings, synonyms or how ambitious words were being used in context. By the second summer half term, however, after undertaking daily vocabulary work since spring, our pupils showed more self-assurance in tackling questions.  They had experienced ‘playing with words’ in a wide range of games and activities, had developed more confidence to break words into root/ prefix/ suffix to decipher meanings and had explored using ambitious words in a wide range of contexts. As a result, when faced with multiple choice and completion questions in the summer assessment cycle, children were able to score much higher scores on the language (and spelling) based questions on the GPS paper.

Ruth Duckworth, Assistant Head, Christ Church CE Primary
Progress Tests (New Second Edition)
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