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Written Statement - Reform of National Reading and Numeracy Tests

Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education

Education reform is our national mission, and by working together we will ensure that our young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.  I want to update you on the way that the National Reading and Numeracy Tests will be changing in the future as part of this reform journey.

Since 2013 all learners in years 2-9 have sat annual tests in Reading and Numeracy. The tests, aligned to the National Curriculum in Wales and the Literacy and Numeracy Framework, remain a key part of our programme, both now and as we move to the new curriculum and assessment arrangements.  Providing schools with additional information to help their understanding of how their learners’ literacy and numeracy skills are developing, and what next steps can be taken to support them to develop further, is essential to  achieving our aim of raising standards.

Successful Futures notes that there is a place for testing in schools and that “innovative approaches to assessment, including interactive approaches, should be developed drawing on the increasing potential contribution of digital technology”.  

In line with this recommendation, and in the context of the wider educational reform programme, from the 2018/19 academic year we will be introducing  a new generation of innovative, online assessments for reading and numeracy – personalised assessments.

Personalised assessments will adapt the difficulty of the questions to match the responses of the learner, adjusting to provide appropriate challenge for each individual. This means that all learners will be presented with questions that match and challenge their individual skills in reading and numeracy. Schools will receive high quality, tailored information about each learner’s skills that they can use to plan the next steps for teaching and learning.

In Wales we do not use National Test results to make judgements on school performance. Our tests, now and as we move forward to a new generation of innovative assessments, are for formative use by schools. These are tools which enable teachers to support all our learners to develop the skills that they need to thrive in their years at school and throughout their lives.

Benefits of the new assessments will include more immediate feedback, automatic marking, and the flexibility for the assessments to be used at a time which suits the school. The transition will take place over three years and will put in place a high quality, sustainable model for assessment going forward.

This approach is tailor made for Wales. It shows how we are investing in our schools to drive up standards and ensure that every pupil, whatever their background, has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.