Managing your Key Stage 1 and 2 assessments effectively

By Rachael Marshman

With the numerous changes to statutory assessment arrangements being introduced at Key Stages 1 and 2 for 2016, I thought it would be useful to highlight how these changes will affect schools and share some useful links to help you find further information.

The new national curriculum has been taught in all local authority maintained schools in England since September 2014 and those pupils at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 will be the first cohort of pupils to be assessed against the new national curriculum in May 2016. However, as the national curriculum has changed so too have the tests. In light of the removal of the levels grading system, the outcomes for both will no longer be reported using levels. Scaled scores will be used for tests and new descriptors used to record teacher assessments.

Last week the DfE announced that they had agreed to change the deadline for primary school teacher assessments to 30 June – this is great news, giving schools more time to understand the new framework before submitting their assessments.

teacherKey Stage 1
There are extensive changes at KS1 as the previous tests and tasks have been replaced by a new set of tests. These include the introduction of a grammar, punctuation and spelling test (GPS) which will be unfamiliar to Year 2 teachers, as well as an arithmetic paper as part of the maths test. There is no longer a test for English writing.

It’s also worth noting that the KS1 tests do not have set dates for their administration but it is expected that schools administer the new tests during May 2016. At KS1 the role of tests and tasks is to help inform the final teacher assessment judgement reported for each child at the end of KS1.

Key Stage 2
The most significant change in the structure of the KS2 tests is that the mental maths test will be replaced with an arithmetic test. From 2016 there will be no Level 6 tests. The tests for the new national curriculum will include a small number of questions towards the end of the papers that will stretch the more able pupils, therefore separate tests are no longer required. Again, the outcomes for both will no longer be reported using levels. Scaled scores will be used for tests and new descriptors used to record teacher assessments. Head teachers won't need to change the way their school prepares for or administer the tests because of the introduction of scaled scores. 

What are scaled scores?
Scaled scores are used all over the world to help ensure test results are reported consistently from one year to the next. Scaled scores maintain their meaning overtime so that two pupils achieving the same scaled score in different years will have demonstrated the same attainment. For example, in the new tests ‘100’ will always represent the national standard. However, due to the small differences in difficulty between tests, the raw score (i.e. the total number of correct responses) that equates to 100 might be different, (though similar) each year. A pupil’s scaled score will be based on their raw score, where the raw score is the total number of marks a pupil receives in a test based on the number of questions they answer correctly.

The DfE has published information for headteachers, teachers, governors and local authorities about scaled scores and the national standard from 2016. You can read the full guidance on the DfE website.

I’ve put together some quick reference tables to outline the format of the tests at KS1 and KS2 so you can see which papers are applicable and the marks available for each (see tables 1, 2 and 3 on attached document). The pupil’s raw score will be translated into a scaled score using a conversion table provided by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA).

For 2016 KS1 tests, conversion tables will be published on GOV.UK at the beginning of June 2016. Teachers will need to use these to translate pupils’ raw scores into scaled scores to see whether each pupil has met the expected standard.

Most pupils will have either Achieved standard (AS) or Not achieved standard (NS) unless they fall into the 'other' category, for example if they were absent (a) or working below the level of the test (b) (please refer to tables 4 and 5 in the attached document for examples of the outcomes that can be returned for each pupil in the tests).

A full set of sample tests and materials has been published to help teachers prepare for the 2016 KS1 national curriculum tests. These are available here.

Format of the teacher assessments
For 2016, the interim teacher assessment framework requires the use of new performance descriptors. I’ve attached a table of outcomes that provide a quick reference guide to the new language and codes that will be used to summarise teacher assessments for 2015/16 (see tables 6 and 7). The table format should help schools visually compare how the descriptors change between subjects and key stage.

The interim teacher assessment frameworks for KS1 are available here. They are for 2015 to 2016 only. The DfE is evaluating options for future years.

To assist teachers in making the appropriate judgement for each pupil, the DfE have published exemplification material to support accurate teacher assessment at the end of each key stage in 2016, these are available here.

How SIMS helps
There’s a good deal of work to be carried out in the coming months for pupils in Year 2 and Year 6 to ensure that they are well prepared to achieve the expected standards. Hopefully the information I’ve given you will help to keep you informed with the new teacher assessment and test material.

As for every year, SIMS assessment has been adapted to support the statutory assessment process by providing resources and 'wizards' to guide you through the recording of teacher assessment and test outcomes, including ‘P’ scale results if applicable.

Once data has been entered into SIMS, a common transfer file (CTF) can be created for secure submission to the local authority.

• Templates and wizards are available as part of the Spring upgrade and can also be downloaded early from My Account.
• Training material will be available within the Spring release and training on the statutory returns process can be booked via
• Should you need help with your teacher assessments, our School Improvement team offer a range of services. 

A full guide to the Assessment and Reporting Arrangements for 2016 can be accessed via the links below:

2016 EYFS Assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA)
2016 KS1 Access and reporting arrangements (ARA)
2016 KS2 Assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA)
Rochford Review: interim recommendations - This report provides guidance to schools about how to report statutory assessment outcomes for pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests at key stage 1 and 2.

Any questions? Please leave a comment below.


colin adlam

We are an independent school. As we have SIMS Assessment is the EYFS section included in that, or an extra module?
Thanks, Colin

Dean Simmons

Hi Colin,

Thanks for your comment. I'm pleased to confirm that the EYFS section is included in SIMS Assessment for independent schools.

If you would like any further information, the SIMS Independent customer care team would be delighted to hear from you (01285 647459).

I also thought you'd be interested to know that SIMS Independent has its own website here: - I hope you enjoy the blogs and content created specifically to support independent schools.

Kind regards,

Communications Team

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