The Rochford Review: What you need to know

With the end-of-key-stage assessments imminent, here's a quick reminder of what the Rochford Review recommendations are for assessing children working 'working below the standards of the national curriculum tests but who are above the level of the P scales'.

This article is by Michael Surr, Education Development Officer - DfE project, Nasen.

Assessment in England’s schools is currently in something of a state of flux. Schools are making decisions about how to assess children without levels and how to show progress in ways that are demonstrable and measurable while reflecting the new ethos of the assessment without levels agenda - that is, achievement and attainment is about much more than a number.

This flux is reflected in the end-of-key-stage 1 and 2 assessments. The arrangements that have been put in place for 2015/16, and their associated guidance, are only interim with more permanent procedures to be put in place next year.

Somewhat ‘late to the game’, Diane Rochford, and the review group which she led, were charged with reviewing the end-of-key-stage 1 and 2 assessment arrangements for those children working below the standards of the national curriculum tests but who are above the level of the P scales. The work of the Rochford Review was published in December 2015 as a set of interim recommendations.

Sitting alongside the Review are Interim Pre-Key Stage Standards, which are to be used for teacher assessment, at the end of keys stages 1 and 2, for children who:

  • have not completed the relevant programmes of study
  • are working below the standard of the national curriculum tests and
  • the interim teacher assessment frameworks but
  • who are working above P-scales.

You can see from this that the children to whom these standards apply are not necessarily SEN. Helpfully, the review includes handy tables on pages 8 (Key Stage 1) and 9 (Key Stage 2) which will help the identification of which path for end-of-key-stage assessment children should take - that is, sitting the tests, assessment via interim frameworks, assessment via the interim pre-key stage frameworks (developed by Rochford), P-Scales or no assessment due to lack of information.

The review is at pains to say that the easiest questions in the new tests are at a similar level to those of the old end-of-key-stage tests and so there shouldn’t really be an increase in the numbers not sitting them.

The Interim Pre-Key Stage Standards were deliberately developed to be in a similar format to the Interim Frameworks for Teacher Assessment published in September 2015, and as such include ‘pupil can’ statements. They cover the skills and understanding that the Rochford group identified as ‘bridging’ the gap between the P-Scales and those identified in the teachers' assessment frameworks.

At Key Stage 1 there is one additional standard for each of reading, writing and maths which is called, ‘foundations for the expected standard’. At Key Stage 2 there are 3 additional standards for each of reading, writing and maths which are called, ‘foundations for the expected standard’, ‘early development of the expected standard’ and ‘growing development of the expected standard’. For a child to be assessed as meeting a standard they must be able to consistently demonstrate their ability against all the statements and those of any preceding standards. So, for a Key Stage 2 child to be assessed as meeting all the statements in ‘early development of the expected standard’ there must also be evidence that they meet all the statements in 'foundations for the expected standard’.

The charts referred to earlier include the codes to be used for reporting on the assessment.

To summarise, the interim standards:

  • are for all children, SEN or otherwise, who fall below the standard of the end-of-key-stage assessments
  • aren’t designed to be a curriculum 
  • will require evidence to support decisions which show that a child consistently meets a standard
  • shouldn’t mean that there is an increase in numbers of children not sitting tests.

Despite the fact that the pre-key stage standards, as well as the other arrangements for end-of-key-stage assessments, are interim and only in place for one year, it is essential that teachers are supported to familiarise themselves with the arrangements and how they are applied.