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What is National Test Development?

Statutory end of Key Stage 1,2 and 3 tests (and tasks, as applicable) are taken by all eligible pupils in Wales at age 7, 11 and 14 respectively. The statutory tests/tasks are based on the Programmes of Study within the National Curriculum Orders. These orders were revised in January 2000, and the current versions became operable in schools from 1 September 2000.

Statutory testing takes place in the four core subjects: English, Welsh, mathematics and science (for science, Key Stages 2 and 3 only). Tests in mathematics and science are available to schools as both English-medium and Welsh-medium versions.

Since 2000, all statutory tests (and tasks) have been Wales-only materials. Prior to this, assessment materials for English, mathematics and science were, in general, developed jointly with England.

Reflecting best practice

Direct contact has been established and maintained with exemplary primary practice in Welsh-medium and English-medium schools in Wales, emphasising the CRIPSAT principle of developing assessment items which reflect the best practices to be found in schools. In this manner, tests reflect classroom ecology and the acknowledged backwash effect of the testing regime can have a positive impact on teachers' practices and pupils' learning outcomes.

Three modes of teacher involvement are in operation:

  • direct observation and discussion in the course of school visits;
  • group meetings in the course of which teachers articulate and share their practices before attempting to convert these into assessment items;
  • teachers handing over curriculum approaches or assessment items to the core-team for working up into polished form.

Introducing ideas into practice and checking classroom validity

CRIPSAT staff ensure familiarity with the most current thinking about practice as published in the literature which refers to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in primary science. Ideas which push the boundaries and keep the subject alive are pro-actively fed into the practice of collaborating schools, tested for classroom validity and reconstructed to inform assessment development.

Using concept probes from published research

In addition to its extensive assessment activities, CRIPSAT has a long-established and direct involvement in collaborative research with teachers. Much of this research has been concerned with understanding pupils' conceptual progression in understanding of science ideas, including exploring with teachers the manner in which such ideas may be made more accessible to greater numbers of pupils. Our own and others' research of this nature frequently makes use of research instruments which can be thought of generically as 'concept probes'. Such instruments can often be successfully re-drafted for use in pencil and paper form. In such cases, the assessment draws on research to inform and interrogate classroom practices and outcomes rather than reflecting them.

CRIPSAT, University of Liverpool, 126 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L69 3GR - 0151 794 3270