Last year I wrote a blog about how the ‘expected standards’ were set by the STA for the national curriculum assessments. This year, a slightly different process was followed to ‘maintain’ this standard. Because of this, the number of marks needed to reach the ‘expected standard’ has changed for each subject.
How are the tests developed?
The tests go through an extensive development period before they are taken by the children. Two separate trials are undertaken, and this information is used in the standards maintenance process.
This year, psychometricians used the trial test results to establish how the tests in 2017 compared to those in 2016, in terms of difficulty. To support this, several anchor items are used every year to provide a stable marker of difficulty – meaning there is a “control element” to the process.
By comparing tests, the STA can determine if the tests were harder or easier than the year before. As different questions are used each year, this process is important.
Raw scores and scaled scores
It’s worth remembering the purpose of these assessments are to establish whether a child has met the “expected standard” in reading; grammar, punctuation and spelling; and mathematics. The raw scores are converted to a scaled score, and a scaled score of 100 represents the expected standard.
If a test is easier than in the previous year, the number of marks required to reach the expected standard may increase slightly, as children will have to do more to demonstrate they are working at the expected standard. This means the raw score needed for a scaled score of 100 will be a bit higher.
If a test is harder than in the previous year, the number of marks required to reach the expected standard may decrease slightly, as children have to do less to demonstrate they’re working at the expected standard. This means the raw score needed for a scaled score of 100 will be a bit lower.
We’re all still getting used to these new assessments and reporting scales, but the quality of the assessments and standard setting process is high. Having attended the standards maintenance confirmation meeting as an observer, we’re satisfied that the process is robust and fair.
However, our views on how these assessments are used for school accountability, as well as the curriculum they draw on remain unchanged.
Share your views
The government is holding a consultation on primary assessment and accountability. It closes on June 22 2017, so there’s still time to share your views.