Sample questions for the new tougher tests which will be taken at the end of primary school from 2016 have been released by the Department for Education today.
The number of tests pupils take at age 11 will remain the same, but assessments have been overhauled to bring them in line with the new curriculum which starts this September.
There will be tests in reading, mathematics and grammar, punctuation and spelling. A sample of pupils will also take a science test every two years.Teacher assessment has been used to gauge pupils’ ability in writing since 2012.
The changes to the maths tests have been particularly controversial. From 2016, pupils will sit a 30-minute arithmetic paper, rather than the current 20-question mental maths test, and two 40-minute problem-solving papers.
Topics on the new papers will include adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators and calculating the area of a parallelogram and a triangle.
The marking scheme will reflect the government’s insistence that students use standard long division and multiplication methods. Children who get the wrong answer to a calculation will still get marks if they used these methods in their workings, but not if they use ‘chunking’ for division or ‘grid method’ for multiplication.
Dr Sue Pope, chair of the general council of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, said: “For schools to say, ‘right we will make sure everyone does long multiplication or long division’, for the sake of one or two marks is crackers.
"Those written papers are going to be hard. They are going to be similar to what is on level 6 tests at the moment and schools need to realise that if they have a scheme of work that helps children to become confident problem-solvers, it is crucial they don’t throw that away because those problem-solving skills are the ones children need.”
Calculators were banned from the tests from this year. A move which some academics have called a "backwards step" because it restricts the type of problems that can be asked.
But Elizabeth Truss, education minister, said that the changes were necessary to ensure that English pupils can keep up with their peers in the Far East.
She said: “We know that for children to get on in life, a solid grounding in maths and English at primary is vital. This means learning times tables up to 12x12 and being able to carry out long multiplication and division without the aid of a calculator. It also means proper spelling, grammar and punctuation."
Last year, 75 per cent of pupils achieved the expected level 4 in reading, writing and mathematics – with performance highest in the reading test, where 86 per cent of pupils met the expected grade.
The new tests will have a higher pass mark and rather than being reported in terms of the level reached, a scaled score will be used to show how each child has compared to their expected standard for their year. A score of 100 will represent the standard expected and parents will be provided with their child’s score alongside the average for their school, the local area and the country.
There will also be a new test in grammar, punctuation and spelling at age 7, which will be used to inform the teacher assessment for writing. At age 7, teacher assessments rather than test scores will be reported, as is the case now.
Sample test questions
Key Stage 2 maths
1652 divided by 28
1/3 + 1/4 + ? = 1
Key Stage 2 Reading
What does the word spectacular mean in this sentence? They provide spectacular scenes of mountains, meadows, moorlands, woods and wetlands.
This sentence contains:
2. Put a tick in the correct box to show whether each of the following statements are fact or opinion.
Yellowstone park contains geysers and rock formations.
The most recent place to be made a National Park in England was the South Downs.
It is fun clambering over rope bridges in the Lake District.
England’s National Parks are beautiful.
Key Stage 2 grammar, punctuation and spelling
Circle all the determiners in the sentence below.
There wasn’t much juice left in the fridge, so I bought a new bottle.
Explain how the comma changes the meaning in the two sentences below.
Are you coming to see, Ali?
Are you coming to see Ali?