New assessment criteria: Why are the requirements changing?

By Richard Hubbard, Curriculum and Product Advisor

The new national curriculum in England became statutory in September 2014.

Few will be unaware at this stage that all existing national curriculum level descriptors have been removed and will not be replaced. They were seen to be too broad to be of real use to teachers and did not provide an accurate description of where students were and what they needed to do next. Furthermore, the levels meant very little to parents so progress became difficult to communicate meaningfully.

From 2016, teacher assessments in reading, writing, maths and science will be informed by detailed performance descriptors for the end of each Key Stage. It will be up to individual schools to decide how they will assess and what method of description they will use.

Greater challenge

The new national curriculum programmes of study are seen to be more challenging, slimmer, and focused on what is seen as ‘essential subject knowledge’. They are intended to provide more opportunity for schools to develop curriculum detail which reflects the needs of the local area.

In adapting to meet the demands of the new curriculum primary schools will need to consider the design, planning and implementation of a new system of assessment. The progress children make from reception to Year 6 will now be seen as just as important as their final attainment. Progress will be measured starting from a new baseline assessment given in reception.

Greater attainment

There is a greater demand on attainment at the end of the primary phase: The government has set a target of 85% of children reaching a new ‘secondary ready’ standard (broadly similar to a Level 4b in the previous system) by the end of primary school.

Primary schools will need to achieve either the target in progress or attainment. They will be deemed to be below standard only if there is poor progress from reception to the end of primary and fewer than 85% of children achieve the expected standard.

All schools will be expected to publish information about their pupils’ progress and attainment on their website to inform parents, to show school performance.

A precise scaled score (a score where 100 will represent the new expected standard for that stage) will be reported at the end of each of the Key Stages rather than a level. This will be used as the basis for a clear explanation to parents as to where a student is and what they need to do next.


Richard Hubbard
Curriculum and Product Advisor

An educator with a background teaching in both primary and higher education institutions, Richard is the Curriculum and Product Advisor at Renaissance Learning UK. He helps to guide product development and provides expertise on curricula.



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