How is my child assessed at primary school?
Primary school teacher, senior leader, and assessment expert Shareen Mayers tells us about assessment in primary school, including details on all the main tests in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Have you ever wondered how and why your child is assessed at school?
Teachers use all sorts of methods to formally and informally assess your child on a day-to-day, termly, and annual basis. Read on to discover what these methods involve, including an explanation of all the major tests your child will be expected to take at primary school.
1. How does assessment work in the classroom?
Classroom assessment refers to casual, day-to-day assessment, rather than the more formal tests such as SATs. There is no set way for teachers to carry out classroom assessment – it varies from school to school. However, most classroom assessment falls into three main types:
- Informal day-to-day assessment – in the classroom
- Termly assessments
- End of year assessments/statutory assessments (including SATs tests).
How do teachers carry out day-to-day/formative assessment?
Teachers are constantly making day-to-day assessments about what their pupils can do. These may include:
- Question and answer in class. The teacher asks children about what they have learnt. For example, What does evaporation mean? Do you know why this character felt this way? Does 20 × 30 = 600? Can you explain your answer?
- Marking and feedback on pupils’ work. This is perhaps the most common way of making day-to-day assessments. Some schools give feedback in writing to children if they have misunderstood something. Others give feedback orally to either the whole class or small groups. For example, You have spelt ‘because’ incorrectly – please check your spellings. Does your writing make sense to the reader?
- Observations. Some teachers (depending on the age of the children) may make notes on what they can do and any issues to be addressed. This is particularly used in Reception and for making assessments about reading.
- Recap quizzes. Throughout the week, teachers might complete mini-tests or quizzes to see how much pupils have learnt.
What are termly assessments and end-of-year assessments and why are they used?
Your child might mention that they have a lot of tests in one week or they might not mention a thing! The emphasis put on these tests varies from school to school.
Most termly assessments are carried out in English reading and mathematics throughout the school. In many schools, teachers track children’s progress over the course of a school year. Most schools give pupils a progress test at the end of each term to find out whether they are on track to be at the expected standard by the end of the year.
There is no national standard by the end of Year 1, 3, 4, or 5, but schools typically use the national curriculum as their main guide. Some schools use terms like ‘emerging’, ‘expected’, or ‘exceeding’ the standard. Other schools just use ‘standard met or not met.’ It is worth asking the school what language they use and what this means for your child/children if you want to understand the results better.
Top tip: Parents’ evenings or consultations are a good time to discuss any questions you have about assessment and what your child needs to do to meet the expected standard for their year.
What are interventions?
After carrying out termly assessments and/or day-to-day assessments, schools might identify pupils who are in need of extra support to ensure they make progress throughout the year and reach the expected (or above the expected) standard. Other interventions are used to support pupils who are struggling with a particular aspect of their learning. This is nothing to worry about – interventions are there to ensure that every child gets the support they need.
In Year 6, some schools carry out revision classes or have extra sessions for pupils to ensure they reach the expected or greater depth standard. It’s worth asking your child’s teacher how you can support your child at home. There is lots of helpful advice on Oxford Owl too.
Reception baseline assessment
The new reception baseline test takes place during the first six weeks of children starting school in Reception. It is a computer-based test and will last only 20 minutes. There are two main areas for assessment:
- Language, communication and literacy
This assessment is used purely to calculate how much progress children have made from Reception to Year 6 (when children are 10 and 11 years old), so there’s nothing to prepare for or worry about.
Assessments in Key Stage 1
The phonics screening check takes place in June of Year 1 (when children are 5–6 years old). It is not a formal test, but a way for teachers to make sure children are making good progress with phonics.
Any children who do not pass the phonics screening check can take it again in Year 2 (when they are 6–7 years old).
The key stage 1 assessments take place in May and June of Year 2 (aged 6–7 years old). All of the assessments are teacher assessed, which means that teachers mark them and judge what standard a child as working at.
The subjects assessed are mathematics, English reading, English grammar (optional for schools) and science. There is also a reading and mathematics test but both of these assessments are used to ‘inform’ the teacher assessments.
Assessments in Key Stage 2
From June 2020, all Year 4 pupils (8–9 years old) will carry out a short multiplication check.
It was introduced to make sure children know their multiplication and division facts for times tables up to 12 × 12 by the end of Year 4, as this is the expectation in the national curriculum. Some schools trialled the check in the summer of 2019.