Each year in May, school children in Wales in Years 2-9 will sit national tests in Literacy and Numeracy.
We have collated some ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ from the Welsh Government’s website for you (below) to hopefully give you all the information you need. If you would like to see some sample test materials, they can be found on these links to the Learning Wales website for reading and for numeracy.
If you feel that your child would benefit from improved reading, take a look at our Parents Guide to the Oxford Reading Tree and The Books That Helped My Son To Enjoy Reading.
Why do we have national tests in Wales?
Schools have always used tests to check how well children are doing. Having national tests developed especially for use in Wales means that teachers in all schools have the same information on the reading and numeracy skills of their pupils. The tests can show where individual children might need more help toimprove their skills. Schools can compare achievement in reading and numeracy in their schools with what is happening locally
What are the Reading tests like?
The reading tests are made up of short questions based on two or more texts. Some of the questions check how well the text has been understood, others aim to find out if children are able to make judgements about what they are reading. Before the start of the test, children can try out some practice questions so that they will know what the different types of questions are like and what they may be asked.
There are reading tests in both English and Welsh. Each test takes up to an hour but younger children can take a break part-way through. Children in Years 4 to 9 in Welsh-medium schools take the tests in both languages. Children in Years 2 and 3 are only expected to take the Welsh reading test although schools may choose to let Year 3 pupils take the English reading test as well.
What are the Numeracy tests like?
There are two kinds of numeracy tests.
1. The procedural test measures skills in things like numbers, measuring and data.
2. The reasoning test measures how well children can use what they know to solve everyday problems.
English and Welsh versions are available for both tests. Each of the numeracy tests takes up to half an hour, but again, younger children can take a break during the tests.
When does testing take place?
Primary, secondary and middle schools will give the tests to their pupils during April and May – the exact dates will change each year It is up to the school to timetable the tests and they should let you know the dates when your child will sit the tests. Children can take the tests in classroom groups or in larger groups, perhaps in a school hall.
Do all children have to take the tests?
Most children should be able to take the tests, but some may need particular access arrangements. For example, large-print and Braille versions of the tests are available for children who have problems with their eyesight. A very small number of children may not be able to take the tests.
Headteachers will carefully consider whether to enter some children for one or more of the tests.
What can the tests tell me about my child’s learning?
The tests can provide useful information to add to what your child’s teacher knows about their reading and numeracy from their work every day in the classroom. Teachers can use the results to identify strengths and also areas where more help may be needed.
They may share this information with you at parent meetings.
However, any test can only look at a limited range of skills and abilities. The reading tests cannot provide any information on speaking, listening or writing skills. The numeracy tests cannot test your child’s understanding of space and shape. Some children will not perform at their best on the day of the test. As a result, their test results alone may not give a full picture of their ability. Each test is designed to measure achievement across the range expected for each year group. The tests will not always give reliable information for children who are working at the extremes, or out of the range for their age.
It is important to discuss your child’s progress with their teacher based on all the evidence they have, rather than just focusing on a single test result. It is also important to remember that children do not all make progress at the same rate.
How will I know how my child has done in the tests?
By the end of the summer term, your child’s school will give you test results for each test that your child has taken. The results should be read alongside your child’s annual report. The tests provide two kinds of result, an age-standardised score and a progress measure. These two results are very different from results you may have come across in other situations, for example 9 out of 10 or 65%.
We have included a video which describes the test report here.
What is an age-standardised score?
Having a score of say ‘6 out of 10’ does not take into account how hard a test is or show how one child has done compared with other children taking the test. If most of the others taking the test scored 9 out of 10, then 6 is not a good score. But if the average score was 2 out of 10, then 6 is a very good score.
The age-standardised score from the national tests tells you how well your child has done compared with other children of the same age (in years and months) taking the test at the same time. The average age-standardised score is set to 100 and about two-thirds of all children taking the test will have age-standardised scores between 85 and 115. So, an age-standardised score lower than 85 might suggest that a child is experiencing some difficulty with the reading or numeracy skills tested. Similarly a score greater than 115 might suggest that the child’s reading or numeracy skills are well developed for their age.
Similarly, very high achievers can only be given an age-standardised score of ‘more than 140’ because the test does not measure the limit of their skills. Again, teachers will be able to give you more information about your child’s ability. In a few cases, the range of difficulty of the questions in the test may mean that it is not possible to register an age-standardised score for a child whose reading and numeracy skills are developing more slowly than would be expected. The score could only be given as ‘less than 70’. If this is the case, your child’s teacher will use other methods to assess how their skills are developing. One of the things a teacher might do is to let your child try the questions from a test for the year group below to see if this helps to get a better picture of where they may need more help to make progress.
What is a progress measure?
The progress measure for the test shows how well your child has done compared to every other learner taking the test in his or her year group across Wales. Results for each year are presented in vertical blocks. Your child’s performance is marked as a ‘+’ within one of these blocks. Providing results in this way shows whether or not your child is maintaining their position in the year group over time and helps to identify trends in their performance.
The text provided under each result tells you if your child’s position in the year group is broadly consistent with, higher than, or lower than last year. Progress measures that are broadly similar from year to year would suggest that your child is making steady progress within their year group. Small variations from year to year are expected.
By using information from previous tests it is possible to work out an expected range for your child. Anything outside this range shows that the difference is likely to be due to a change in performance. If your child’s performance is higher or lower than last year, it may suggest that your child would benefit from more support or challenge. Your child’s teacher will be able to talk to you in more detail about the ways in which they are making progress in all aspects of reading or numeracy (not just on the tests) and what can be done to help to improve their skills.
Should I help my child to prepare for the tests?
No. The tests are just one piece of evidence about your child’s achievement. The best way to prepare your child is to make sure that they are not worried or anxious.
Can I help my child to improve their reading and numeracy?
Yes, definitely! Getting involved in your child’s learning while at home and out and about can make a big difference to their progress. Any of the following will be a huge help.
- Reading and talking about any kind of text such as books, magazines, web pages, leaflets, notices.
- Using numbers when shopping, planning trips, looking at football scores, times of TV programmes.
- Sharing activities that involve reading and numeracy such as cooking, playing board games, watching or playing sport,
- Talking about words and numbers you come across in everyday life.
It seems a long way off now but time will fly by! If you would like some help and support for your child to prepare for these tests, call Kerry for a chat on 07875 122916.