Key Stage 2 Technical Pre Tests

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What are the purposes and aims of the project?
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has been commissioned by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) to trial test materials for assessment at key stage 2.

As part of that process we are asking a number of schools to trial new English reading, English grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS), and mathematics tests. The trial is aimed at testing the performance of individual questions rather than the performance of any pupil, and means that schools can have confidence that key stage 2 tests function appropriately for pupils in year 6 and that the results will be valid and reliable.

How have schools been selected to take part?
The schools have been randomly selected by the STA and make up a nationally representative sample. If your school has been selected we will have written to your headteacher and if your school is LA maintained or is part of a multi-academy trust (MAT), we will have informed your LA or MAT that your school has been selected.

Please note that from 2016, participation in these trials is statutory.
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What does being selected to take part involve?
Your school will be asked to trial tests for key stage 2 English reading, English GPS or mathematics.

We will arrange for a representative from NFER to come to your school to administer the tests to one class of year 6 children. The tests should be given to children that will be entered for the key stage 2 statutory assessments, in the appropriate subject, in May 2020. The date of the trialling will be arranged at your convenience in the period 20 April to 01 May 2020 (20 April to 24 April in cases where schools are allocated ‘anchor’ tests).

Each school will be asked to trial the tests in one subject only. The tests will take the following form in each subject:

  • Key stage 2 English reading – each pupil will take one or two reading tests each lasting one hour.
  • Key stage 2 English GPS – each pupil will take one or two tests, comprising of a spelling paper and a question paper. Each complete test will last one hour.
  • Key stage 2 mathematics – each pupil will take one test comprising of an arithmetic paper lasting 30 minutes and two reasoning papers each lasting 40 minutes.

During the administration, a member of school staff, with experience in the test subject, is required to be present at all times. At the end of the administration, they will complete a short questionnaire giving their opinions on the content of the tests.

How will my school benefit from being selected for the trials?
A member of your staff will be able to see what future assessments may look like and will have the opportunity to provide input into the development of the tests. Feedback from your school will give the STA a very good idea of what content to include in final examination papers.

Test scores will not be calculated until after the trials and because they are based on trial evidence there is a possibility that children’s results could give misleading data. For this reason, we are regrettably unable to give feedback to the schools that take part in the development of tests. However, participating children will receive a pencil and certificate to acknowledge their help with these trials.

How will NFER use and protect the data collected from my school?
STA will provide NFER with the autumn 2019 census data containing a list of your year 6 pupils’ names and background data (date of birth, gender, UPN, SEN and language provision). Once we have received your reply, we will upload the pupil data to our secure school portal and ask you to indicate which pupils are in the class selected to participate in the trial. We will also ask you to check and, if required, update the background data and indicate if any pupils require modified versions of the tests (enlarged and coloured copies are provided for trialling). You will also be asked to add names and background data for any new pupils. Once the trial is complete NFER will provide STA with the updated pupil data, the scores derived from NFER’s marking/coding of the tests, as well as the scanned images of the test booklets completed by your pupils.

Please note that the data and scanned images will be maintained as strictly confidential by NFER and will be passed to STA, the Data Controller, for the purposes of informing the analysis of the test results and ensuring that the tests are operating appropriately for all pupils. No individual school or pupil will be identified by NFER or STA in any report arising from the trial. For more details about the use of data for this trial please refer to the Privacy Notice which is available on the following link:

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Who can you contact for more information?
Our aim is that your experience of taking part in the trial is a positive one and we are on hand to support you throughout if required. Please feel free to contact our team on 01753 637136 or via email at if you have any queries or require further information.