In May, Year 6 children will be assessed for the first time on the new curriculum in England. To save you time, we have taken a look at the new sample tests and frameworks and given some key pointers below.
What’s in the test?
The new Key Stage 2 English reading test comprises a reading booklet and a separate answer booklet. The reading booklet will contain a selection of three to four unrelated texts, totalling up to 2300 words, which will increase in difficulty. There will be a mix of text types, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
Will the paper be timed?
Yes. The total testing time is 60 minutes. This includes reading time and time to answer the questions.
What will be tested?
The tests will focus on the reading comprehension elements of the national curriculum for Key Stage 2. You can find the ‘Content Domain’ in the test framework document. This shows elements that are considered assessable in a paper-based test format. The Content Domain elements are set out as points 2a–2h (e.g. ‘2a: give / explain the meaning of words in context’).
Do the frameworks give information about how to teach the curriculum at Key Stage 2?
These sample test and framework documents relate only to the assessment of the curriculum within the test papers. They have been devised for test developers rather than for teachers, but they are useful to give a sense of what may be in a live test.
Will there be an equivalent of the old Level 6 paper?
No, there will be no separate paper to replace the old Level 6 paper. Instead, the core reading paper will include a small number of questions that will stretch the most able pupils.
Do the reading papers reflect the higher expectations of the new curriculum?
The texts increase in demand throughout the booklet. The final text in the sample is an extract from Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’. It’s a challenging text, requiring children to understand words such as ‘unwieldy gambols’, ‘glade’, ‘sapling’ and ‘brushwood’.
What types of questions are included?
Questions include short answers, several line answers, longer answers and selected answers (multiple choice responses, ordering, linking lines). They test the key expected skills that relate to comprehension, ranging from simple explanation to inference, prediction and understanding of vocabulary in context. Children also need to demonstrate that they can summarise and make comparisons.
How will the papers be marked?
These papers will be set externally and marked externally from 2016 onwards. Pupils will receive a ‘raw score’ – this is the mark they achieve on the test. They will also receive a ‘scaled score’. The scaled scores will be worked out from the raw scores using scaled score conversion tables. The idea of scaled scores is that they are standardised and can be compared year by year. The scaled score of 100 will always equate to the national standard.
How will scores be reported?
Results will be published on the NCA tools website in July 2016. Each pupil registered for the test will receive:
• a raw score
• a scaled score
• confirmation of whether they attained the national standard.
How will these papers fit into overall assessment for reading at Key Stage 2?
The test score will be combined with a teacher assessment of reading to reach an overall judgement.
Alison Pickford is a commissioning editor for primary literacy, currently working on Read Write Inc. She has worked in educational publishing for 9 years. Before that she taught English as a foreign language in the Czech Republic.