Ask the expert: Summer term assessment

In this ‘Ask the expert’, Liz Twist, Head of Assessment Research and Product Development at NFER and former teacher, answers some FAQs on summer term assessment

Why is the summer term a valuable time for undertaking summative assessments?

The summer term offers an ideal opportunity to evaluate pupil learning since by this point the majority of the curriculum content for the year will have been taught. A measure of attainment taken at the end of each academic year can be an effective way to track pupil progress year-on-year, as well as progress throughout the year if similar measures are taken at other points, such as the autumn and spring term. Another benefit of summer term assessment is the ability to see whether pupils have met age-related expectations i.e. have reached an appropriate standard on the curriculum content for that year. Age-related expectations can only meaningfully be measured during the summer term once the majority of content for the year has been taught.

What are age-related expectations for years 1-5 based on?

Age-related expectations identify what is expected of a pupil by a specified age or year group. In the national curriculum, there performance descriptors indicating what a pupil should be able to do by the end of key stage 2. However, as the government does not publish expected standards for other year groups across key stage 1 and 2, some assessment providers publish their own age-related expectations measures to help teachers identify whether pupils in Years 1-5 have achieved the standard on the national curriculum. NFER has developed its age-related expectations for its summer reading and mathematics tests by reviewing the national curriculum to develop relevant descriptions of performance, and undertaking a rigorous standard setting process with assessment experts and a diverse group of experienced teachers in order to confirm the thresholds.

Is end-of-year assessment purely summative?

Although end-of-year assessment is considered a summative assessment if it evaluates learning that has taken place over the course of the whole year, the information gained through end-of-year assessment can be used formatively to some degree. For example, information about particular strengths and weaknesses gained from assessments can be shared with the next year group teacher to help inform ongoing teaching. Similarly assessment data analysed at a broader level can help inform whole school teaching strategies and curriculum planning for the year ahead.


Written by Liz Twist, Head of Assessment Research and Product Development at NFER

With over 20 years’ experience in assessment development and research, Liz leads the teams developing NFER’s popular assessment products and research. She has also previously worked as deputy head of a combined school and taught both primary and secondary school pupils.

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