Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

No pupil slips under the radar with Star Maths

Edward Bryant Primary School, West Sussex

Edward Bryant Primary School has successfully used Star Assessments to track and monitor pupil progress in reading since 2015. In 2018, after the school’s success with Star Reading, the school invested in Star Maths to boost student progress in maths. Barry Robinson, Assistant Headteacher, oversaw the implementation and administration of Star Maths to ensure all pupils and staff got the most out of the solution.  

Barry had experienced nothing but good things from his staff’s use of Star Reading to accurately identify pupil progress in reading and the use of Star Assessments to offer strategic intervention where necessary.

Therefore, he wanted to recreate this success with pupils in maths. Barry aims to ensure every pupil leaves Key-Stage 2 with the ability to demonstrate maths proficiency at a fundamental level. Consequently, giving pupils more opportunities to enjoy and explore their academic potential as they transition into Key-Stage 3.

A safe investment

Barry states that Edward Bryant Primary School has been using Star Reading for some time. He knows that staff value it as a resource for assessment and intervention. Therefore, when the school began searching for a quicker, more efficient way to conduct maths assessments than paper-based tests, Star Maths was the reputable choice.

Barry has noticed that pupils have really enjoyed carrying out Star Maths assessments this year. He explains that the school administer Star Maths assessments twice a term. Barry outlines the onboarding process for all pupils before they participate in Star Maths assessments for the first time. He explains that staff will share a presentation around how Star Maths questions work, such as their computer-adaptive nature and what to do if you run out of time before answering.

Barry explains that pupils must understand how to conduct Star Maths assessments properly to ensure staff receive the most accurate and reliable subsequent data. He suggests that he’s never known a pupil to have a problem with the assessment process. He continues that generally, pupils take to it very well.

“Star Maths makes my teachers’ lives easier because the marking is instantly done for you as soon as the pupil has completed their assessment.”

Similarly to Star Reading assessments, Barry explains that it takes pupils on average twenty minutes to complete an assessment. He emphasises that Star Maths is a speedy way for staff to administer assessments and analyse the following data. Barry shares that compared to what the school used to do with paper-based tests, Star Assessments have absolutely contributed to reducing teacher workload. He suggests that what makes staff’s lives easier with Star Maths is that the marking is instantaneously done for you as soon as a pupil has completed their assessment.

On top of instant marking, Barry shares his delight with the immediate measures staff can analyse after a Star Assessment is complete. Measures such as the accurate Star Scaled Score provide a precise estimate of where the pupils sit in their age-related expectations. He explains that all of this valuable data from Star Assessments are logged in a year-on-year overview. Seeing this information over time gives staff a clear picture of where pupils are and what is happening across the school regarding progress and intervention.

No paper, no fuss

Barry claims that he’s not seen teachers enjoy assessment like they do with Star Maths. He acknowledges that this satisfactions sources from the fact that Star Assessments give teachers time back and do not consume learning time.

Barry explains that the school is part of a multi-academy trust which has made Star Assessments the central, standardised assessment resource for all schools across the trust. He suggests that Star Assessments quickly got support from staff at his schools. When the results come in after a pupil has completed their latest Star Maths assessment, Barry’s staff always receive consistent data with no wild variations. For example, Barry knows that a Star Maths scaled score of 500 means the pupil is making progress.

Therefore, when the MAT’s central team visits the school, they want to see Star Assessment data. Barry explains that he can always show them accurate data with confidence. He explains that the school now conducts two Star Maths assessments every term. He affirms that doing this would’ve been a pain with paper-based assessments as they would have been far too work-intensive for two termly assessments. Barry is pleased that with Star Maths, the school now have eight data points throughout the year. This gives his staff a clear latitudinal illustration of how all pupils in the school are progressing with maths practice.

Edward Bryant School completed over 4,000 Star Maths assessments between September 2019 to April 2021. An increased rate of 65%!

Since Edward Bryant Primary School has been using Star Maths since 2018, Barry discusses that they’ve heavily relied on the Star Scaled Score. However, he explains that staff are looking more closely at other metrics within Star Maths, including the Normed Referenced Standardised Score. He suggests that this score is accurate and consistent with what staff have seen so far.

Barry admits there are blips in assessments, but he affirms that any review will see blips on the day. Barry reveals that even when his staff were using paper-based assessments, they would often see anomalies. Barry emphasises these blips included pupils not reading the questions correctly, being especially tired, or not having breakfast before carrying out the assessment!

Reports to sequence learning

Barry discusses how he has recently been exploring all of the reports that teachers can export and analyse post-assessment. He has found a growing interest in the Instructional Planning Report from Star Maths. This report identifies whether the pupil is at, above or below their current targeted benchmark and what skills they must master to see growth. These Focus Skills are matched to the national curriculum’s age-related expectations.

“Focus Skills allow my staff to hone in on what pupils need to work on for appropriate intervention and they outline how teachers can support those above benchmarks to exceed their targets.”

Barry claims that he has analysed the Instructional Planning Report from a class perspective more than an individual student level so far. He describes how the Focus Skills will allow his staff to hone in on what pupils need to do for appropriate intervention and support those above benchmarks to exceed their targets.

Barry states that his colleague in the English department, a big fan of Star Reading, informed him about the value and use of Focus Skills within Star Assessments. Following this recommendation, Barry explored how Focus Skills could support staff in the Maths department. Now, his staff values Focus Skills as a crucial starting point for tailored interventions.

Barry also affirms that Focus Skills help staff sequence their curriculum. He states that this is due to all skills being matched to the national curriculum’s age-related expectations. Therefore, Focus Skills provide a suitable pathway for students to construct their pre-existing knowledge and valuable for teachers to plan future lessons.

Accurate evidence to inform meetings

Barry declares that the entire arsenal of reports the school can now utilise from Star Maths provide helpful evidence for progress meetings. He shares that the Star Maths reports offer a valuable illustration of real pupil progress, allowing an informed narrative to occur with all staff around specific pupil progress. Barry reveals that his team can dig deeper into pupil growth and performance more than ever before.

“The reports from Stat Maths are fundamental for our termly progress meetings because they provide a clear and accurate picture of which pupils need further intervention and those seeing continued growth in maths.”

Barry affirms that the deep dives into pupil performance and growth inform termly progress meetings. He states that Star Maths reports are a fundamental reference point for these meetings. He asserts that the reports provide a clear and accurate picture of pupils needing additional intervention and those seeing continuous growth.

Barry claims that the reports are shared with year group leaders, too, as they provide a quick and easy outline of pupil performance. He states that the bar at the top of the diagnostic and screening reports clearly illustrates the current state of overall performance. Barry maintains that this clear illustration and quick analysis contrast previous paper-based assessments that the school was previously reliant on.

Going forward with Star Maths

Barry concludes that with Star Maths, it is easy to keep an eye on where the gaps in learning are and subsequently offer appropriate intervention for struggling students. He reaffirms that teachers like using Star Assessments as they see its purpose in front of their eyes with the accurate data and information provided.

Barry states that teachers get everything they need at their fingertips with the reports from Star Maths. He indicates that teachers have fed back their happiness with the reliability of the data due to its consistency. Barry reveals that this data is vital for a teacher. It allows them to ask questions about why and where intervention is needed for specific pupils. He suggests that with the recent disruption to learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the data from Star Maths gives his team an accurate picture of how pupils are performing.

Barry insists that the comprehensive analysis of Star Maths also highlights what teachers may have missed regarding a drop in pupil progress. He suggests that the support of the Focus Skills within Star Maths will give his staff a clear indication of how to structure their curriculum planning.

To find out how your school can utilise Star Maths to boost pupils’ maths proficiency, click here.


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