Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME)

ACME correspondence with the STA

01 September 2015

In August 2015 ACME wrote to the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) noting a number of concerns regarding the Key Stages 1 and 2 sample test materials and the Mathematics Test Framework performance descriptors. The messages in performance descriptors and assessment items are used by teachers and school leaders to exemplify curriculum intentions and are one of the strongest levers in bringing about changes in teaching and learning. ACME noted that:

  • the aims of the primary National Curriculum and the sample Key Stage 2 arithmetic paper seemed to be at odds with each other;
  • there were a number of deletions in the performance descriptors from the test framework at Key Stage 2, which will impinge greatly on the teaching and learning of the National Curriculum;
  • the current iteration of the mathematics test framework could mean that pupils do not all develop a strong foundation at Key Stage 2 and therefore will not be able to meet the challenges of the new GCSE Mathematics.

ACME previously corresponded with the STA in November 2014 regarding the National Curriculum assessments: 2016 sample materials.

The STA responded to ACME's letter on 28 August. They noted:

  • 'the Key Stage 2 tests were designed with a paper focusing on arithmetic skills to place emphasis on mastery of the fundamentals of mathematics in addition to the mathematical reasoning papers. The relative importance of each component of the test is sign-posted by the proportion of marks awarded to each. We believe that this approach to the structure of the test provides a positive message to teachers about the importance of mathematical fluency while ensuring that pupils have a grasp of the basics';
  • 'where it was felt that the performance descriptors were describing an aspect that was difficult to determine from what a child had written on a test paper, the statement was removed as we felt it would not provide clear and unambiguous evidence of the attainment of a child';
  • the framework to support teachers in making teacher assessment judgements will be published in September. ACME responded to the consultation on this issue in December 2014.

ACME is currently undertaking work on the assessment of problem solving and reasoning and discussed this issue in depth at its conference on 9 July, Mathematically Thinking.

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