This is the Government Response to the Bew Review’s Recommendations. All recomendations were accepted. The complete document can be accessed from the DfE site or downloaded from here: DfE Response to Bew Review of KS2 Testing July 2011
Purposes of Statutory Assessment
Main Uses of Key Stage 2 Statutory Assessment Data
Lord Bew and his panel have put forward a compelling underpinning rationale for our approach to statutory assessment. We agree with Lord Bew that the principal uses of end of Key Stage 2 statutory assessment should be to:
• hold schools accountable for the attainment and progress made by their pupils (including specific groups of pupils);
• inform parents and secondary schools about the performance of individual pupils; and
• enable benchmarking between schools, as well as monitoring performance locally and nationally. Each of these principal uses is important and should be appropriately reflected through the design of our statutory assessment and accountability system. We welcome the fact that Lord Bew and his panel have identified a range of potential secondary uses to which Key Stage 2 statutory assessment data can be applied. We believe it is right that, while statutory assessment data will still prove useful for these secondary uses, the report makes clear they are not the principal uses.
Schools should be held accountable for the education of their pupils. Lord Bew and his panel have highlighted the strong evidence that external school level accountability is important in driving up standards and pupils’ attainment and progress. It is right that we provide the public with access to a wider range of data so that parents and others can find the information that is most important to their individual needs or local interests. We agree that external accountability needs to be fair and should give a rounded, representative picture of a school’s performance. We agree that more information should be published, in line with our commitment to transparency and making as much information available to the public as possible. We all want each and every child to have an excellent education, to have a sound grounding in the basics of reading, writing and mathematics, and to develop into a rounded individual with a lifelong love of education. Many of our primary schools are doing an outstanding job for the children in their care; but it is clear that more must be done to raise standards and narrow attainment gaps. We remain resolute and determined to address these issues and ensure that all children, especially the least advantaged, have the opportunity to succeed. We believe that schools and teachers should be free to set their own direction and that high levels of school autonomy must be combined with robust accountability. Key Stage 2 tests and assessments have an important role in the accountability system and provide vital information for parents, pupils, head teachers and the tax payer. Of course, we need to ensure that the accountability system is based on fair and robust principles. We have listened carefully to head teachers’ and teachers’ concerns about the current system. Seven months ago, we commissioned Lord Bew to conduct an independent review to see if there is a better approach which would improve the system while still holding schools to account and giving parents the information they need. We are grateful to Lord Bew and his panel who have listened to a wide range of evidence and considered many different options during the course of the review. We believe that Lord Bew has recommended a number of intelligent, practical and fair improvements which are underpinned by a compelling set of principles, based on what is right for children and schools.
The Government accepts all of the recommendations. Lord Bew and his panel have recommended substantial improvements to the current Key Stage 2 testing, assessment and accountability system. We want to act as quickly as possible to take forward these recommendations. However, we recognise that change of this scale needs to be implemented carefully to ensure that the positive impact of the recommendations is realised for all involved. We will implement the recommendations as quickly as is practicable. Our approach to testing, assessment and accountability will need to continue to evolve and develop, particularly as we move towards a new and improved National Curriculum. However, as well as accepting the short term recommendations, we accept fully the clear, long term principles that Lord Bew and his panel have set out. These principles will shape Key Stage 2 testing, assessment and accountability in the long term. We also agree with the other recommendations that Lord Bew and his panel have made regarding an increased focus on progress, allowing absent pupils to sit tests within an extended time frame, reporting to parents and secondary schools, and publication of summative teacher assessment judgements. We believe they provide for strong accountability, ensuring that data is presented in a fairer way for schools, and in a way that provides parents with the information they want.
A Greater Focus on Progress
As Lord Bew recommends, the school accountability system should focus on both attainment and progress. Any overall judgement of a school made by Government will in future give at least as much weighting to progress as to attainment. We will set out more prominently in the Performance Tables (and RAISEonline) how well all pupils progress, regardless of their starting point. Our recent Schools White Paper The Importance of Teaching introduced a new floor standard for schools, which now incorporates a progress measure. A progress measure will remain in future floor standards. We believe it encourages schools to think about the performance of all their pupils, rather than focusing only on those who could help the school rise above the attainment threshold. As the response to the ‘Ofsted Inspections’ recommendation makes clear later in this section, Ofsted currently judges pupil achievement by focusing on both attainment and progress. As Ofsted moves to a new inspection framework to be implemented from 2012, there will be an even sharper focus by inspectors on the progress of particular groups of pupils and individual pupils when coming to this judgement.
Ensuring a Focus on the Progress of all Pupils
We will put greater emphasis on the progress of every child. We will publish a new indicator of progress focused on the lowest attaining pupils and will publish further details by the end of the year. In addition, there will be new indicators showing the progress of pupils in the Year 6 cohort who were middle and high attainers at the beginning of Key Stage 2. The Review makes a specific reference to the recent Green Paper on special educational needs (SEN) and disability. It suggests that the outcomes of the consultation need to be considered with a particular focus on ensuring the achievement of all pupils with SEN is appropriately recognised and celebrated within the accountability system. The formal consultation for the Green Paper, Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability, closed on 30th June 2011. As part of this process we have asked for views on what information would help parents, governors and others, including Ofsted, assess how effectively schools support disabled children and children with SEN. We will publish a formal response to the consultation, along with more detailed plans on the implementation of our reforms, by the end of this year. We welcome the Review’s endorsement of the importance of supporting the progress of the most able primary pupils and the new level 6 test. The test has been available to schools to use on an optional basis for the first time this year. In accordance with the Review’s recommendation it will continue to be optional for schools to use and it will be for schools to decide whether to enter pupils for the test. However, we also believe that it is right that schools which use the test, and successfully support their highest attaining pupils, are given credit for doing so. We shall also therefore consider how best to incorporate this measure in the accountability system. This means that in 2012 the test will be externally marked, and, as with level 3-5 national curriculum tests, taken on a specified date (though subject to the time extension for absent pupils explained later in this section).
Key Stage 1: Baseline to Measure Progress We want to ensure that the Key Stage 1 baseline is robust and credible. The Standards and Testing Agency will set out the way in which we expect all local authorities to approach Key Stage 1 moderation in the future, i.e. carefully targeted so that schools where attainment and progress at Key Stages 1 and 2 are inconsistent are prioritised and moderated more frequently. We realise that many local authorities already follow this approach and we want this to be the case consistently.
Ofsted Inspections Ofsted currently judges pupil achievement in school inspections. This judgement is a combination of the evaluation of standards of attainment in National Curriculum Tests and of pupils’ progress from their starting points when they joined the school. Inspectors consider both attainment and progress measures over time, using a three year trend alongside evidence about the attainment and progress of pupils who are currently educated at the school. As we introduce a new school inspection framework, to be implemented from January 2012, inspectors will continue to take a balanced view about progress and attainment data when judging achievement. There will be an even sharper focus by inspectors on the progress of particular groups of pupils and individual pupils when reaching this judgement.
Rolling Averages The introduction of rolling averages, in addition to annual data, will help take into account the volatility of individual cohorts and will provide a sense of achievement over time. We will publish three year rolling averages in the 2012 Performance Tables for the headline performance indicators.
Pupil Mobility We recognise that schools are currently held accountable for pupils who join very late in a Key Stage. We will develop additional attainment and progress measures for pupils who have completed the whole of Years 5 and 6 within the school. These indicators will be included in the 2012 Performance Tables.
School-Level Measures in Reading and Writing We will continue to provide an overall English measure. When Lord Bew’s recommendations for writing assessment are implemented, this will take into account the reading test, teacher assessment of writing composition and the writing skills test. Teacher assessment judgements in English will also be published, which will incorporate teacher assessment of speaking and listening. We will make statutory assessment results in reading and writing available to give a more rounded picture of a school’s performance in English. We will publish this year’s reading test and writing test results as soon after the publication of the 2011 Performance Tables as possible.
Additional Measures and Contextual Information We agree that publishing additional measures and contextual information can help give a more rounded picture of a school’s performance. This approach aligns with the Government’s transparency agenda. We will include additional information in the 2011 Performance Tables, such as the attainment and progress of pupils on Free School Meals and Looked after Children, compared with other pupils in the school. In the 2012 Performance Tables we will go further, for example publishing measures showing attainment and progress by gender and for pupils with English as an additional language. In line with commitments we have already made, as well as publishing more data, we will develop a website which is more user-friendly and enables parents and the public to find the information they consider to be important.
Allowing Absent Pupils to Take Tests Within a Given Time Frame We agree that schools and pupils would benefit from extending the time frame in which pupils who are absent on the day of a test can sit it, and will trial an extension to a week. This trial will apply to all pupils at the end of Key Stage 2 in 2012. An evaluation at the end of the test cycle will determine whether the extension should become permanent. The Standards and Testing Agency will set out revised processes for the way in which schools make applications for pupils who are absent to sit the tests in 2012.
The Publication of Summative Teacher Assessment Judgements We agree that teacher assessment results should continue to be published in the Performance Tables, and the 2011 tables will give more information than the 2010 tables. In addition to showing the percentage of pupils assessed as attaining level 4+ and level 5+ in English, mathematics and science, the tables will also show the percentage assessed as attaining level 3 or below in each of these subjects. We will move the deadline for schools to submit teacher assessment judgements so it falls before the return of test results, which will increase the emphasis on teacher assessment. We will publish the new deadline in the Key Stage 2 Assessment and Reporting Arrangements which will be sent to schools by early November.
Reporting Pupil-Level Results to Parents and Secondary Schools We agree that pupil-level information provided to parents and secondary schools should be easier to interpret and more detailed. A fundamental review of the pupil information regulations is underway. We intend to simplify the regulations and to move towards a model that places broader requirements to ensure parents get the information they need on their child’s educational progress. We believe this will help lead to more easily interpretable information, as primary schools will have greater freedom to provide the information in the format they believe is most useful to parents and secondary schools. In response to Lord Bew’s final report, we propose to include a reference in the regulations to the need for outcomes of statutory assessments to be reported both across overall subjects and their component parts (schools already have a statutory obligation to make these assessments). We believe this will help to give parents and secondary schools a better picture of a child’s strengths at the end of Key Stage 2 as well as the areas on which he or she needs to focus in order to improve. We will implement these changes at the earliest possible date, which is likely to be September 2012.
Parental Surveys We welcome Ofsted’s proposal in its consultation on a new inspection framework to engage with parents outside of the inspection process. We believe this proposal will encourage schools to gather the views of parents regularly, as many schools already do. National Curriculum Levels The existing National Curriculum levels will be retained in the short term as a means of measuring pupils’ progress and attainment. The National Curriculum Review will consider how we report statutory assessment in the long term, including how the National Curriculum can support the provision of more helpful advice and information to parents on their child’s progress. A new National Curriculum provides an opportunity to make changes to the whole system as opposed to focusing on a single Key Stage.
Enabling Benchmarking of Schools Effective benchmarking by schools is essential and will require additional tools and analysis. We will continue to develop RAISEonline as a resource to support self-analysis and school improvement. In the 2011/12 autumn term, RAISEonline will be further expanded to include a wider range of data and national comparators. Data tools to ensure schools can benchmark themselves against schools with similar circumstances should be made available. We have been working with schools to see how the ‘Families of Schools’ publications data tool can be improved to meet schools’ needs. This feedback will form part of the wider decision about how this kind of data will be made available, potentially through the schools performance website in the future.
International Comparison Studies We welcome the importance the Review places on international comparison studies and the recommendation that we continue to participate fully in them. As the report acknowledges, there is a proposal in the current Education Bill to make participation in international studies mandatory for those maintained schools selected in the samples for the studies.
Statutory Assessment Lord Bew and the panel have focused on statutory summative assessment and we have followed this approach in our response to their final report. We have always been clear that statutory assessment at key points in a child’s education is very important. External tests and teacher assessment by teachers who are uniquely well placed to know each child as an individual are both valuable forms of assessment. We believe it was right that Lord Bew and his panel considered each subject from the point of view of what is educationally most appropriate. We welcome the recommendations for each subject, and agree that mathematics, reading and writing skills should be externally tested, but that writing composition should be teacher assessed. A number of the recommendations for statutory assessment require changes to test development (either the development of new tests, or changes to their current design). We will implement the changes as quickly as possible, but as the final report recognises, we will need to allow enough time in each case for new assessments to be carefully developed and trialled, given the importance of validity and reliability.
Confidence Intervals Confidence intervals could help promote greater understanding of the outcomes of statutory assessment. However, some feedback suggests they are not currently well understood by parents and the public. We believe further investigation is needed before we publish confidence intervals more widely. We will consider whether confidence intervals can be used effectively in relation to performance indicators to promote greater understanding.
Reading We believe it is right that reading should be externally tested and so reading tests will continue. It is important that reading tests are fair for all pupils and are genuinely tests of reading. The Standards and Testing Agency will consider Lord Bew’s recommendations as it develops future reading tests, to ensure they are appropriately accessible to pupils. As Lord Bew notes, this could be achieved for example through adjusting the balance of text and reading time, or putting text and questions in clear order of difficulty. In future reading tests the number of questions requiring a written response will be kept under review to ensure that the test is, as far as possible, a test of reading. However, it will be important to ensure that changes to the reading test do not pose risks to quality, validity or reliability. We will consider the skills which should be assessed by the reading test and will ensure these skills are brought out clearly in the design of future tests that assess the new National Curriculum.
Writing We agree that pupils should leave primary school having mastered essential writing skills such as spelling, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. The Standards and Testing Agency will therefore develop a test of these writing skills and consider the potential to include an assessment of handwriting in the test. We will work closely with teachers, heads and other partners in the design, implementation and administration of this test. The process for developing National Curriculum Tests impacts on how quickly a new writing skills test can be introduced. While it is relatively straightforward to develop new test questions, it is important that they are trialled in order to set standards and ensure that the questions are not easier or harder for particular groups of pupils. As the test results will contribute to school accountability, it is vital that they have demonstrably high validity and reliability. Since new tests must be trialled at the same point in the teaching year as the ‘live’ test, so that pupils are at a comparable stage in their education, this requires a minimum of a year’s lead-in time. The test of writing skills will be trialled and pre-tested in 2012 so that it can be introduced for all schools in 2013. Criticism of the current writing test is widespread and we agree that writing composition should be subject to summative teacher assessment only. This will encourage a broad range of writing over the course of Year 6, and will allow Year 6 pupils to demonstrate what they can do. External moderation of teacher assessment of writing composition will be important to ensure it is perceived as reliable and robust. We will consult on proposals for moderation, including who will be responsible for it, how many schools will be subject to moderation each year, and the process for resolving disagreements. We will develop and trial moderation in 2012 ahead of full implementation on a statutory basis in 2013.
We share the concern of Lord Bew and his panel that a shift towards teacher assessment should not increase teachers’ workload. We realise this is a view shared by many head teachers and teachers. We want to ensure this is not the case. Teacher assessment of writing composition should be based on the ordinary written work completed over the course of Year 6, which teachers will already assess. Teachers should not be required to produce additional written work or assessment ‘portfolios’ purely to support teacher assessment. Teacher assessment judgements of writing composition will form the greater part of any overall writing judgement once the new arrangements are in place from 2013 onwards. We want to move towards the new writing arrangements as quickly as is practicably possible. However, given the long lead-in time to develop the new test of writing skills and to establish a system to moderate teacher assessment of writing composition, an interim arrangement will be needed for 2012. These arrangements should be in line with the principles set out in Lord Bew’s report and should ensure that results are as reliable and robust as possible. Teacher assessment judgements of writing composition will make a significant contribution to the overall writing results. We also believe some external testing will be required alongside teacher assessment. We will discuss the detailed arrangements for 2012 with the profession and confirm them to schools at the start of the new school year.
Speaking and Listening Speaking and listening skills are extremely important, and teacher assessment of speaking and listening will continue in the future. It should be reported to parents and secondary schools and should inform schools’ overall teacher assessment of English, which will continue to be published. The National Curriculum Review will consider how best to reflect the importance of speaking and listening in the new National Curriculum, and proposals will be published for consultation early next year. Mathematics We believe it is right that mathematics should be externally tested and so mathematics tests will continue. It is important that mathematics tests are accessible to all pupils and do not unfairly disadvantage weaker readers. The Standards and Testing Agency will review all future National Curriculum Tests in mathematics to ensure that they remain accessible to all pupils, and that they are primarily tests of mathematics rather than reading. Science We accept Lord Bew’s view that teacher assessment is the most appropriate form of assessment for science at the end of Key Stage 2, so pupil and school level data will continue to be based on teacher assessment judgements. It is important that national performance in science should continue to be monitored. The Standards and Testing Agency will continue to develop and administer national sample tests in science. Subject to the outcomes of the National Curriculum Review, we will look to the Standards and Testing Agency to develop a system of pupil-level science sampling. This will provide much greater detail about the attainment of pupils nationally across the whole science curriculum.
Coherence Between Statutory Assessment and the New National Curriculum We agree that greater coherence is required between the National Curriculum and its statutory assessment, and will seek to build in greater coherence following the National Curriculum Review. The National Curriculum Review will consider the suggestion from Lord Bew and the panel for statutory assessment to be divided into two parts in the future, with a ‘core’ of essential knowledge that pupils should have learnt by the end of Key Stage 2.
Delivery of Testing and Assessment Arrangements
Cluster Moderation to Support Professional Development We want to encourage schools to collaborate and share experience to develop their assessment skills. We understand the value of groups of teachers from a range of schools meeting on a regular basis to take part in cluster moderation of teacher assessment judgements. There is already good practice in this area, and we wish to build upon it, particularly in light of the changes to writing assessment.
Transition to Secondary School We are concerned by evidence presented to the Review which suggests how little Key Stage 2 statutory assessment data is used by many secondary schools. We believe that secondary schools will receive better information as more detailed pupil-level teacher assessment data will be provided earlier in the summer term. We will encourage secondary schools to make wider use of this data to support transition of new Year 7 pupils. We agree that cross-phase moderation of Year 6 pupils’ work would support teachers’ continuing professional development, building a shared understanding of the importance of assessment and delivering more meaningful data for secondary schools. We will encourage all secondary schools (and Year 7 teachers in particular) to join with Year 6 teachers in moderating Key Stage 2 teacher assessment judgements, particularly with regard to writing composition.
Transition from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 We agree that the same principle of cross-phase moderation should apply to infant and junior schools. We will encourage moderation of Key Stage 1 teacher assessment judgements involving both Year 2 and Year 3 teachers. Timing of Tests We recognise that changing the timing of the end of Key Stage 2 tests to the beginning of Year 7 is a feasible option. However, based on the evidence and feedback analysed by Lord Bew and the review panel, we accept that it is not the best solution to the problems with the current system. Tests will therefore remain at the same point in the summer term.
On-Screen Marking We agree that considerable benefits could be realised through a full roll-out of on-screen marking. The Standards and Testing Agency will consider how and when it could be introduced for full cohort tests, in addition to the science sample tests. We are mindful that on-screen marking must be introduced in a way which safeguards delivery of results to schools and pupils, through full end-to-end testing of proposed systems.
Computer-Administered Testing We recognise the potential of computer-administered testing in the long term and agree that it needs to be piloted with appropriate preparatory work before it can be used for statutory assessment. We will explore computer-administered testing and how it might be piloted in the future.
Computer Adaptive Testing We believe that computer adaptive testing also has great potential. We will explore the possibility of introducing it in the long term, including by considering the relative suitability of the system for assessing specific subjects.
Testing When Ready We will consider the principle of ‘testing when ready’ following the review of the National Curriculum. We accept the view of Lord Bew and his panel that it is not the best way of achieving the purposes of statutory assessment under the current National Curriculum, but recognise that it may fit better with computer-administered testing if it is introduced in the future.