Paper-based national tests will be phased out in Wales in favour of personalised on-line assessments, following May’s test window. But how will this work with the new curriculum?
Not surprisingly this fits neatly with the direction of travel and the vision of how pupils should be assessed. Successful Futures was explicit that under the new curriculum learners should be assessed not just for what they had learned but for what they had the potential to learn and do next – as individuals.
Learners who are given high quality feedback, who understand where they are in their learning, where they need to go next and how they get there, are the most likely to make the most improvement.
The new on-line system will give pupils questions at a level that matches and challenges their individual capabilities. It will give both learner and teacher faster feedback, enabling teachers to identify what further development or support a learner requires.
Welsh Government is phasing in the new assessments from the 2018/19 academic year. Starting with procedural numeracy*, they will replace paper tests completely by 2022, when the new curriculum will be used in all schools for all pupils up to year 7. The timeline for the transition is:
The assessments, trialled in schools in Wales and developed with teacher input, are based on the skills in the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework and will give teachers a picture for individual learners or whole classes, which can be used to plan next steps in teaching and learning.
All maintained schools in Wales must assess learners in years 2 – 9 once during an academic year. Following feedback from practitioners on how they wish to use the assessments, schools will also have the choice of using them a second time. Timing is at the school’s discretion.
The assessments have been developed to be used on a variety of devices, including tablets. Learners can take the assessments one at a time, in small groups or whole classes, according to teacher preferences and school facilities.
And yes, they are designed to be easy to use. Samples will be available for familiarisation, and schools will have access to online tutorials and a help desk. A Frequently Asked Questions document is available now. http://learning.gov.wales/docs/learningwales/publications/171206-personalised-assessments-faq-en.pdf
With these new assessments complementing new curriculum development so positively, it’s encouraging to see another piece of the education reform jigsaw slotting neatly into place.
* There are two kinds of numeracy tests.
- The procedural numeracy test measures skills in things like numbers, measuring and data.
- The reasoning test measures how well children can use what they know to solve everyday problems.