The Complete Digital Solution is now the perfect complement to the National Reading Test.
Claire Tynan, Headteacher, Tonyrefail Primary

Using NGRT adaptive tests to improve Reading Comprehension Skills in line with the Literacy Framework

Tonyrefail Primary has been evaluating the way it is making a measurably impact on pupil outcomes. This case study explains how the school is using GL Assessment’s Complete Digital Solution to identify, evidence and evaluate the progress that pupils are making with key Literacy and Numeracy skills. 

Tonyrefail is a community primary school on the edge of the Rhondda Valley. Around 33.4% of pupils are entitled to receive free school meals, which is nearly double the national average. There are 303 pupils on the school roll and the school population is steadily growing. The school is in an Amber support category and has recently been involved in LA monitoring, which involves regular updates and meetings to assess their progress against recommendation criteria.

The target for the school like many others is to make a measurable impact on pupil outcomes in key areas highlighted by their school data and by their recent Estyn inspection. The school has recently purchased GL Assessment’s Complete Digital Solution, a collection of online assessments that includes the New Group Reading Test (NGRT), in order to identify, evidence and evaluate the progress that pupils are making with key Literacy and Numeracy skills.

Headteacher Claire Tynan explains, “We needed an assessment to complement the National Reading Test that would give us detailed information about the performance of all of our pupils against the Wales Literacy Framework statements. Now that GL Assessment has mapped NGRT against the Wales curriculum, we can feel confident that the standardised assessments are actively supporting accurate teacher assessment and planning for progress.”

What assessment tools do teachers need in Wales?

The National Reading and Numeracy tests in Wales give schools information on whether their pupils are currently operating at the expected standard for their chronological age. The Procedural Numeracy test gives a detailed diagnostic of fairly broad range of skills from the Numeracy Framework. The National Reading test does not give quite such a broad picture.

Of the 49 skills in the Literacy Framework, in 2016 the National Reading test covered just six skills. These skills were crucial skills such as RS2 – Decoding, RC3 – Identifying Information and RC4 – Inference and Deduction. However delve a little deeper and you find that RC3 was only tested in two questions and in the Year 6/7 test only the Year 7 skill was tested. So, schools need to supplement the National Test with an assessment that not only tests a broad and balanced range of the key reading skills from the Literacy Framework, but allows accurate identification of the pupils’ current ability. Teachers need information not just about whether pupils are currently able to complete their year group statement, but if they can’t what year group ARE they operating at. In other words a test that tells teachers what pupils CAN do in order to help teachers plan for progress.

The NGRT is now fully mapped against skills from the Literacy Framework. It is this element of the CDS that Tonyrefail staff have utilised to great effect.

Headteacher Claire Tynan commented: “The Complete Digital Solution is now the perfect complement to the National Reading Test. GL Assessment’s adaptive NGRT allows pupils to complete an assessment that matches their current ability and gives teachers more information about how far above or below their current chronological year group statement they are actually operating. This is crucial for effective teacher planning if pupils are really going to show progress.”

How did the school use NGRT to make a difference to pupil outcomes?

Staff at Tonyrefail were focussed on using the road map skill progression of the Literacy Framework across the curriculum to make a measurable difference to pupils’ skills. The National Reading Test had already highlighted that pupils were struggling with the Higher Order skill of inference, identifying meaning from texts that was not explicitly stated. Few of their pupils were answering RC4 questions accurately on the test, but staff wanted to know what was holding these pupils back.

With a little more digging, it was clear from the National Test that children with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) were also struggling with RC3 – Identifying Information questions. The next step in the process was a detailed analysis of NGRT adaptive results for each child, identifying the year group each child was operating at for each of the key underpinning skills tested by the national test, namely RS2 – Decoding, RC3 – Identifying Information and RC4 – Inference and Deduction.

How did NGRT improve planning & quality of teaching?

For each yearly statement from the Literacy Framework Tonyrefail staff have a list of appropriate activities that effectively develop the skill at that standard. These activities allow the explicit teaching of skills standardised assessments have identified pupils need to develop. Pupils are being taught independent learning strategies that will positively impact on their national test result, but more importantly improve pupils reading skills in all areas of school and life.

How will Tonyrefail evaluate the impact of this strategy?

By retesting pupils using the online adaptive New Group Reading Test, and once again analysing the test results against the Literacy Framework Skill Mapping, staff will be able to see exactly how much improvement pupils have made against Literacy Framework skill pathways. There will be no teaching to the test and there will be a collaborative approach across the school for improving the skills that school data has highlighted are of most concern for their pupils. Tonyrefail is using NGRT in a formative way, exactly in line with Donaldson’s recommendation to Welsh Government in Successful Futures:

Recommendation 37 “Assessment arrangements should give priority to their formative role in teaching and learning.”

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