KS2 reading test (09 May 2016)

s wren made this Freedom of Information request to Standards and Testing Agency

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Dear Standards and Testing Agency,

Today students in Year 6 undertook their KS2 Reading National Curriculum Test ('SATS') paper. The format of this paper is students are provided with some reading material and are asked a series of questions about that material to test their reading and comprehension.

There has been considerable comment today about the text used for this particular text being inappropriate for Year 6 students (and perhaps more appropriate for Year 11 students).

There are a number of internationally recognised tests that calculate "Reading Ages" of written material for examples the FORECAST formula; the FOG index and the FLESCH formula.

These produce estimates for the 'reading age' required for a particular text (ie. the age at which an average reader would be able to accurately read the text).

Could you please provide for me:

a) Documentation that explains your policy on determining whether a text is appropriately challenging for a National Curriculum Test. Notably I am interested in whether it includes formally calculating, using internationally recognisied measures, reading ages to ensure the text used it is age appropriate in terms of challenge.

b) Any reading age calculations undertaken in the preparation or 'signing off' of the KS2 Reading tests taken today and similar for the sample test produced and available on the Gov.uk website.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Wren

STA, Standards and Testing Agency

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| Freedom of Information request - KS2 reading test (09 May 2016) |
| Question Reference # 160509-001340 |
| * Date Created: 09/05/2016 09.01 PM |
| * Date Last Updated: 09/05/2016 09.01 PM |
| * Status: Unresolved |
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J Teacher left an annotation ()

I suggest that reading age analysis should be applied to the questions as well as the texts.

DfE, Standards and Testing Agency

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Standards and Testing Agency

Dear Steve,

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 11/05/2016.

You requested:

a) Documentation that explains the Standards and Testing Agency’s policy on determining whether a text is appropriately challenging for a National Curriculum Test. Notably, whether it includes formally calculating, using internationally recognised measures, reading ages to ensure the text used is age appropriate in terms of challenge.

b) Any reading age calculations undertaken in the preparation or 'signing off' of the 2016 Key Stage 2 English reading test and similar for the sample test produced and available on www.gov.uk website.

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please find the requested information below containing Flesch-Kincaid reading age scores of the texts using the scoring tool at https://readability-score.com/text/.
Table 1 Details of the sample and 2016 live tests


Readability scores* (US school grade)

School year equivalent in England

2016 live test

Lost Queen


Between Year 4 and year 5

Wild Ride


Between Year 4 and year 5

The Way of the Dodo


Approximately Year 6

Overall 4.1

Approximately Year 5

We calculate readability scores at the start of the three-year test development process and some texts are subject to minor changes which may affect their Flesch-Kincaid score by the time they go into a live test. Readability scores can vary depending on the tool used to calculate them.
Throughout the test development process, we gather feedback from expert review panels comprised of teachers, other education professionals and SEND experts on readability so that questions and texts can be amended to ensure their accessibility. This process of expert review happens three times during the three-year test development process. Teachers and other expert review panel members indicated that these texts were suitable for inclusion in a live test.
We also consider feedback from the children who sit the tests when they are trialled as well as their teachers. These large-scale trials happen twice during the three-year test development cycle. From the trials we are able to gauge performance on the test questions to inform our decisions on which texts to take forward to a live test; as part of this decision, we consider feedback on the suitability and accessibility of the text and questions and the difficulty and reliability of individual questions and the overall package.
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Yours sincerely,
Stephen Goodman
Senior Test Development Researcher
Standards and Testing Agency