Welsh Government
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National reading and numeracy tests begin in Welsh schools

Today marks a key milestone in the delivery of the Education Minister’s Improving Schools plan, as reading and numeracy tests for pupils in years 2 to 9 begin in Wales.

The new national tests, which will be sat from 8th to 22nd May, will replace the commercially produced tests previously used by schools.

By tracking progress from the end of the Foundation Phase right the way through into secondary education, the tests are designed to give teachers a clearer insight into a learner’s development and progress. This will allow them to identify strengths and areas for improvement and to intervene at an earlier stage if learners are falling behind.

The reading test will include a statutory ‘core’ test, and a set of optional test materials to help teachers to further investigate learners’ strengths and areas where they need to develop.

The numeracy test will be split into two papers: numerical procedures and numerical reasoning. The procedural paper, which is to be sat this month, will consist of a set of questions that are designed to assess basic, essential numeracy skills such as addition, multiplication and division.

The numerical reasoning paper will follow in May 2014. This will assess learners’ ability to use the most effective procedure or set of procedures to find the solution to numeracy problems they are likely to encounter in their everyday lives.

The tests have been designed to be as flexible and as learner-friendly as possible. Younger learners, for example, can sit the numeracy and reading tests in shorter sessions, rather than for a continuous full hour if the school feels this would help them perform to their best of their ability.

Learners in Welsh medium schools will take a reading test in Welsh only in years 2 and 3 but in both English and Welsh from year 4 onwards. Schools will have the option to use both tests in year 3. Learners will take the numeracy test in either English or Welsh.

The tests will generate reports to parents/carers which will provide a clearer picture of their child’s abilities, and also enable them to raise any potential issues with teachers at an early stage.

Education Minister, Leighton Andrews said:

"We know from the international PISA assessment in 2010 and from reports by Estyn that literacy and numeracy standards in Welsh schools need to improve.

"Up until now, schools have used their own tests to assess how learners are progressing but, because schools have used different tests, there is no clear, national picture of how learners are really performing.

"We are now moving to a system of testing that is clear, consistent and rigorous and will help teachers to identify learners’ individual strengths and weaknesses and intervene earlier if they feel a learner is falling behind.

"We have considered the impact of these tests on teachers and learners at every step of the development process and have looked at all ways in which we can reduce additional workload for teachers and practitioners.

"In addition, we are providing a £700,000 support package for schools which will cover any additional costs relating to invigilation, marking and data entry as schools make the transition to this new form of national assessment.

"Over the next few weeks we will be working very closely with schools as learners begin to take the new tests and are keen to hear the views of teachers, learners and parents throughout this process."

Both the reading and numeracy tests have been developed and trialled by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

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