New assessment and accountability measures. Update: Primary Assessment consultation

30 Mar

Update: 30 March 2017

Voice welcomes consultation on reforms to primary assessment system

Update 1 / 15 November 2016:

Voice’s SATs survey (and written evidence to Commons Committee) Response from Nick Gibb MP

Update: 19 October 2016

October 2016: Written Statement on Primary Assessment 

Primary School Accountability Guidance (DfE)

Progress 8 Update

Update: 1 September 2016

Commenting on the latest Key Stage 2 assessment statistics, Martin Hodge, Professional Officer (Policy & Research Services), said:

“Voice is hugely impressed with the efforts that teachers and support staff have made to ensure that pupils the length and breadth of the country were not disadvantaged by the radical changes to the curriculum and assessment schedule imposed by the Government. 

“There were particular concerns around assessment of Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG), yet this was consistently the highest scoring aspect of the test, with 63% achieving the expected level. 

“Anecdotal evidence from our members suggests that this could be due to the coaching of students.  After all, it is easier to coach children to achieve in a SPaG test, than the inference and deduction required in the reading test.  The disastrous results from the reading test can be directly associated with the difficulty of the paper – which was identified by school staff as substantially harder than the example paper which had been issued for practice.

“The results show remarkable similarities across the country, and although there are differences in achievement, these are relatively small and show that all children have been negatively impacted by these uncompromising tests. 

“The best performing region, London, with 57% of pupils achieving the expected standard, is only 8% higher than the worst performing areas.  There are ‘more extreme values’ between specific towns and boroughs, but there have been questions about the rigour with which some local authorities moderated the writing papers, with some being far more stringent and demanding than others.  This has doubtless contributed to the variance of grades, and some areas may have been disproportionately impacted. 

“We already knew that 47% of pupils failed to reach the expected standard – now we know that neither pupils in free schools nor sponsored academies performed any better than those in local authority maintained schools.  In fact, only those pupils from converter academies (formerly high-performing state schools) show any significant difference – and this is the same as has been seen in previous years.  Therefore it is disingenuous for Ministers to trumpet the success of the academies programme, as the results support no such claim. 

“Voice has further concerns, expressed by our members, that the curriculum is being narrowed by the focus on SATs and preparing children to take tests; this is in addition to the rise in anxiety and stress observed over the Spring and Summer terms. 

“Since academies do not have to conform to the balance of the National Curriculum, some of the breadth of the curriculum is being lost in the never-ending drive towards higher results.

“It is interesting to note the media storm around this statistical release.  It does add some meat onto the bones of the first release in July (see below) but does not really give any meaning to the results – how can it?  There is nothing to compare it to.”

Further information/downloads (DfE, 1 September 2016):


Update: 7 July, 31 August, 12 September 2016 

Progress 8 school performance measure in 2016, 2017 and 2018 (guidance) (September 2016)

Progress 8 update (7 July 2016)

Update: 5 July 2016

Education Secretary says results shouldn’t be compared (BBC).


Voice congratulates those children and schools who have achieved well in the SATs results published today, but we are aware that this is not the whole story.

Today’s results mark a new beginning.

There is nothing about the results released today which can be compared to the SAT results from before – the curriculum is different, the tests are different and the pupils are different.

The children who took the recent exams were tested against a curriculum which they had not been fully taught, and have been measured against standards which are more demanding than ever before.

Given that the full extent of the impact of the SATs will not be known until the progress data is released later this year, we find it worrying that so many children will be receiving information which only focuses on achievement, with the additional risk that schools and teachers may be measured against these first results.

Voice members have been particularly critical of the SATs this year, calling the whole system “a debacle” and with a significant number believing that SATs no longer have any value for schools. The only thing they prove is how well children can be prepared to take a test.

Anecdotal evidence does seem to suggest that high-stakes testing leads to a narrowing of the curriculum and an overwhelming of lessons with practice tests, which begs the question what do today’s results actually say?

Take part in our SATs survey.

Update: 7 June 2016

Letter from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan about Primary Floor Standards

Update: 3 June 2016

Information for parents: 2016 national curriculum test results at the end of key stage 1 (Standards & Testing Agency)

Update: 11 May 2016

SATs stress

Update:  3 May 2016

SATs “chaotic” while Government indulges in unhelpful “blame game”

Update: 27 April 2016

Take part in our SATs survey, designed to find out how SATs impact on pupils, teachers, support staff and school leaders.


Update: 22 April 2016

Following the ‘accidental publication’ online of a ‘live Key Stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test’, the Department for Education (DfE) has ‘removed the requirement’ for schools to administer that test ‘for this year only’. Schools ‘will still need to submit a teacher assessment judgement based on pupils’ work in the classroom as has always been the case’.


Update: 8 March 2016

DfE: Clarification: key stage 1 and 2 teacher assessment and moderation guidance

Update: 4 March 2016








Letter in TES from General Secretary Deborah Lawson  (in  response to article in TES by Schools Minister Nick Gibb).

Update: 19 February 2016

Primary school teacher assessment deadline changed by DfE

Further information (DfE)

Update: 18 February 2016

SATs: General Secretary’s letter to Secretary of State Nicky Morgan


January 2016

New assessment and accountability measures

By Ian Toone, Director of Policy and Research Services

Summer 2016 will see new National Curriculum tests (‘SATs’) to mark the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 in primary schools, whilst, in secondary schools, the new Progress 8 measure will become the new high stakes accountability measure for performance at Key Stage 4.

The new National Curriculum, for which teaching first began in September 2014, will be assessed for the first time in May 2016 (although a number of schools will be selected to administer tests early in April in order to inform the standard setting process).

New tests at Key Stage 1 will comprise:

  • English reading (two papers);
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling (two papers); and
  • Mathematics (two papers).

There will no longer be a test for English writing.

This new set of tests replaces previous tests and tasks, and so 2007 and 2009 test and task materials will no longer be valid for informing teacher assessment judgements.

Key Stage 2 tests will consist of:

  • English reading (three papers);
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling (two papers); and
  • Mathematics (three papers).

The previous test in mental arithmetic will be replaced by an arithmetic test. There will be one set of tests for each subject and these will include a
small number of questions designed to assess the most able pupils, so separate tests will no longer be required.

Science tests at Key Stage 2 will be biennial, beginning in June 2016 with selected schools only. Participation is statutory for schools selected to
take part, and these science sampling tests will be administered by external administrators.

Sample test materials for all National Curriculum tests, and for both Key Stages, are available at:

Test outcomes will no longer be reported using National Curriculum levels of assessment, as these are now obsolete. Scaled scores will be used
instead, the expected standard being represented by a score of 100.

Although National Curriculum tests are designed to be as similar as possible from year to year, slight differences in diffi culty can occur, which is why
raw scores need to be converted into scaled scores in order to give reliable outcomes that can be meaningfully compared year on year.

Two ‘floor standards’ will be used as accountability measures:

  • 65% of children achieving the expected standard; and
  • pupils making sufficient progress, as measured by a new value-added measure of progress.

The Government has recently published a set of standards for pupils who are working above the current P (performance) scales but below the
standards of these new statutory tests. These recommendations stem from the Rochford Review and should allow for the progress and achievement of all children to be recognised.

Progress 8

For members teaching in secondary schools, summer 2016 will see the new Progress 8 measure being used as an accountability measure. This aims to capture the progress a pupil makes between the end of primary school and the end of Key Stage 4.

 It is a type of value-added measure, focusing on performance across eight subjects, including English and maths, three further EBacc (English
Baccalaureate) subjects, and three other subjects.

 Voice is very aware that outcomes based on such accountability measures are often used to inform appraisal objectives and to measure teacher
performance, with implications for pay progression and capability proceedings.

Any members who are affected by these issues should contact us for advice.

[Article written for January 2016 issue of the members’ magazine, Your Voice.]

Further information

Voice Official Response 2098 (2014): Performance descriptors for use in key stage 1 and 2 statutory teacher assessment for 2015 to 2016

Voice Official Response Official 2011 (2013): Primary assessment and accountability under the new national curriculum

Joint union press release on Primary national curriculum (2013)

Progress 8 (DfE):


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12 Responses to “New assessment and accountability measures. Update: Primary Assessment consultation”

  1. Gillian 17. Feb, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    So are you meeting with other unions to discuss the total chaos of this year’s SATS? The gap is too wide to close. Information too late to process properly. Writing standards way beyond what was expected. Maths virtually a Year 7 content with too much to cover. SPAG a nonsense beyond belief. Some of the grammar knowledge is way beyond the current level of Year 6. And nobody knows what the pass mark is if that is what it can be called. Schools are in a panic and reducing their curriculum to test work only.
    What representations are VOICE making to end this situation? We need some action quickly. This is not about raising standards. It is about the speed and the accountability. And I have t even mentioned Year 2!!

  2. Richard Fraser 26. Feb, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    In TES today:

    “This panic over primary assessment is nonsense”

    “Massive upheaval will change schools’ focus”

  3. Richard Fraser 01. Mar, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    “Dear Nicky Morgan: yes/no testing? The answer’s no
    Michael Rosen”:

  4. Richard Fraser 21. Apr, 2016 at 9:39 am #

    “Sats spelling test was on practice paper” (BBC)

  5. Richard Fraser 25. Apr, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    “Did too much, too soon spell disaster for DfE?” (BBC)

  6. Richard Fraser 22. Jul, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    Article in Schools Week:

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