Why did you choose the new, Second Edition GPS Progress Tests?
We have used the First Edition Progress Tests in Reading, GPS and Maths in school for several years, but have recently looked wider, including reviewing other publishers’ materials for assessing grammar and punctuation progress. This is even more important for us this year due to the need to support and boost our very low achieving cohort in Year 6. We have found that the Second Edition GPS Progress Tests are particularly well-matched to the SATs questions seen in key stage 2 SATs tests in 2018, and that they reflect the full range of types of questions currently being used. When building pupils’ test technique, it is vital that the practice questions we work through in the classroom are similar in wording and layout to the ‘real’ grammar tests they will encounter later in the academic year.
What changes have been made to the Second Edition Progress Tests?
Guidance, coverage and marking
Content coverage is included in both the introduction (listed by VGP area) and also in the coverage grid at the end of the book; content domains are referenced for each question.
The mark scheme has more specific, extra information to guide the teacher when marking – specifically reminding that x punctuation mark should be ‘correctly orientated’ etc and where correct spellings are needed (or not) to attain the mark. Gone are the mark scheme references to ‘mark any reasonable expression’ types answers which made marking less reliable and more subjective than the grammar test is now.
Grammar and Punctuation
There are less full writing-out full sentence type questions – more tick box and quick answer questions, but with an increased technical vocabulary expected. In 2018, children were for example asked to write the word ‘comma’ or ‘dash’ for some punctuation questions rather than just write the mark/ symbol or tick the correct box.
‘Remember to punctuate your answer’ prompts are now included for the full sentence write questions – in similar format to recent SATs tests, so that children focus on answering in fully punctuated sentences not just on the key words/ fill-ins or tense change for example.
There is increased emphasis on how given words function in sentences. Matching recent changes, children need to understand whether certain words are being used as a noun, adjective, adverb etc - as well as being able to write, for example the word ‘walk’, in a sentence acting as a verb and in another sentence with ‘walk’ acting as noun.
More questions relate to the use of verb forms in different tenses, e.g. past progressive – covering the full key stage two VGP curriculum.
Formality questions are included in different formats – again reflecting the greater emphasis on this area from the 2018 paper.
More Y3/4 word list spelling pattern words (from the NC appendix 1 for spelling) are included, reflecting the fact that the Year 6 grammar test is actually a key stage 2 test – 70% of the spellings in 2018 were from Years 3 and 4. (See further coverage in the Rising Stars Implications for Teaching)
No hyphenated words are now included in the spelling tests, which again reflects current SATs guidance.
Have you found Progress Tests easy to use?
We use Progress Tests as they are easy to administer and mark to help inform ongoing teacher assessment. Teachers can identify weaknesses and learning gaps quickly as part of good practice AfL. In Year 6, pupils review their previous tests after teachers have marked and analysed them (using MARK if required); our pupils work in mixed pairs to re-visit/ edit and improve questions in green pen. This now only takes part of a lesson as they are used to doing this regularly. The shorter, 20 questions for the grammar, paper 1 test (rather than a 35-38 question ‘SATs’ paper) allows for plenty of coverage, but without the length and detail of a full test – which can be off-putting particularly in Autumn term when only just building pupils’ stamina and test skills.
Following use of the tests, we also use some questions again as gap tasks to reinforce GPS concepts – adding single questions into English books (photocopied onto coloured paper). Although many question and assessment bank resources are available to fit this purpose, the Progress Test questions are spaced more ergonomically – so saves excessive photocopying - but question are still in a decent-sized font for pupils to read.
Would you recommend GPS Progress Tests (Second Edition) to other schools?
There are many SATs format resource, revision and assessment books available on the market, but these new edition Progress Tests are up-to-date, reflecting the newest changes in the format and focus of the SATs from 2018. They have more guidance and information re coverage than previously, so now support our less experienced Year 6 staff well in light of new developments in the format and test layout of the national, end of Key Stage 2 grammar test. In school, we continue to use the original GPS Progress Tests for ongoing teacher assessment from Year 1, but we know that it’s important for our older key stage two pupils particularly to keep on track with the finer changes - Year 5 will be using the new editions in the Summer Term. In summary, these Second Edition GPS Progress Tests are a great addition to any Year 6 classroom.