Considerations for future assessment of Key Stage 2 science

01 November 2009

In May 2009, The Report of the Expert Group on Assessment was published and recommended an end of whole cohort testing in science at the end of Key Stage 2. Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Education, accepted the changes recommended by the Expert Group and proposed in addition that schools in England should have a system of national sampling at Key Stage 2. In response, a monitoring test will be run in 2010 and 2011 using traditional National Curriculum test papers on a sample of the cohort but in 2012 a new, specifically designed testing system at Key Stage 2 will be introduced.

The Expert Group also concluded that teaching and assessment of science can be improved and its importance in the primary curriculum reinforced by replacing externally marked tests by high quality teacher assessments for reporting on performance of individual pupils. The aim of these high quality teacher assessments would be to recognise whether pupils have a firm grip on the practical nature of science, and the skills to develop and apply scientific understanding. Teacher assessment is more likely to be able to assess the practical elements of the science curriculum.

This paper by NFER aims to highlight the key issues that need to be addressed when considering the introduction of a national monitoring system in science and high quality teacher assessment tasks. The NFER has conducted a review of practical investigative tasks in science from other countries and from past experience in England. This paper details the key features of these systems and the implications for the introduction of such an approach at Key Stage 2.