Teach Primary magazine ‘Ask an Expert’ feature - November 2017

Anne Kispal introduces NFER tests for Y1 and 2 and explains what makes them a reliable complement to national testing.

Throughout her 30 year career in assessment, Anne Kispal has developed materials both commercially and for national KS1 and KS2 assessments.

How do these KS1 materials complement NFER's existing range of tests?

Thousands of schools have already used our termly paper-based tests in mathematics, reading, spelling, and grammar and punctuation for Y3-5. The introduction of KS1 assessments extends our range to include all years from 1-5, helping teachers to reliably monitor attainment and progress across the two Key Stages.

How and when should these KS1 assessments be used?

These newYl assessments are intended for use in the summer term, providing a measure of attainment midway through the Key Stage. We are currently developing another set of materials for use in the autumn term of Y2. These will identify areas for development well in advance of the end of Key Stage national tests.

How do these KS1 assessments differ from NFER's KS2 tests?

In order to build familiarity and confidence with assessment in young children, we have departed from our KS2 model. Our KS1 assessment consists of two reading and two mathematics booklets per year group. For reading there is a booklet for all pupils which is accompanied by substantial teacher support and mediation, as well as an additional booklet for pupils who can work more independently. In mathematics, all pupils complete both booklets although (as for reading) the difficulty of the booklet and the support provided differ.

How much teacher support is provided?

Given the age of the target population and the fact that this may be a child's first formal assessment, we have incorporated much more teacher support than in national testing or in NFER's KS2 tests. Yl pupils are led through the tasks page by page at their own pace. This support is particularly important for maths tests as it reduces the amount of reading pupils need to do. In the higher level booklets, pupils work more independently. For reading this is reflected in a booklet layout that mirrors the KS1 national tests, while for mathematics, the support provided by pictures and number lines is reduced.

What makes NFER's KS1 tests a reliable choice?

NFER has been developing assessments for almost 70 years, and following our best practice, these tests undergo a rigorous standardisation process. The Yl summer tests were standardised on over 3,500 pupils in summer 2017 and the autumn tests will be standardised in autumn 2018. A teachers' script is provided for both subjects to safeguard the reliability of the results, by ensuring that the degree of support is the same in all schools.

Why did NFER choose to develop assessments for KS1?

Schools using our KS2 tests frequently told us they would welcome a linked set of materials for KS1. Traditionally, NFER publications include limited assessment material for KS1. However, given this feedback, we came to the conclusion that as long as the resulting materials balanced test reliability and validity with sensitivity to the age group, then we should extend our range to cover KS1 too. Our primary aim was that the end product should be engaging and appealing to pupils, while also producing useful data for teachers.