Understanding national curriculum tests in KS1 and KS2

Pupils are expected to have mastered the skills, knowledge and understanding set out in the national curriculum programmes of study by the end of each key stage and the national curriculum tests determine whether the expected standard has been reached. Rather than being awarded a level, children are given a scaled score, with 100 representing the expected standard.

Key stage 1 (KS1)

At the end of KS1 (year 2) pupil attainment is reported through teacher assessment judgements. These are informed by performance in national curriculum tests in mathematics and English reading, as well as ongoing teacher assessment throughout the year. The national curriculum tests are administered by teachers in May and marked internally. Each pupil’s raw score is converted to a scaled score to provide an indication of whether that pupil is working at the expected standard. The test results are used in conjunction with evidence from teacher assessment in mathematics, English reading, English writing and science to assess children’s knowledge and understanding at the end of the key stage.

There is also an optional KS1 spelling, punctuation and grammar test. KS1 national curriculum tests in English reading and maths will also be made non-statutory from 2023, meaning that schools will be able to choose whether or not they wish to administer them.

More information about KS1 tests, including sample materials, can be found here.

Key stage 2 (KS2)

At the end of KS2 (year 6), all pupils take national curriculum tests in mathematics, English reading, and English grammar, punctuation and spelling. The tests are marked externally by trained markers and pupils are given a scaled score for each subject to show whether they have reached the expected standard. This is the score reported by the school and conveyed to parents.

Science is reported by teacher assessment alone. However, once every two years, a nationally representative sample of schools participate in the science sampling tests, which provide a national picture of science attainment.

More information about KS2 tests, including sample materials, can be found here.

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