A number of different types of tests are used in Forge at different times, and to find different kinds of information. There are quite a few of these, and thankfully they don’t take place in every year. It can be confusing when your child comes home from school and tells you that they were ‘doing a test’. Below is a list of tests used in school from P1 through to P7; hopefully this will make things clearer!
This takes place early in P1 and involves parents. Its purpose is to record some basic information about your child and will include numeracy (number skills), literacy (language skills) and how they are socially.
The Middle Infant Screening Test takes place in the fifth term of school (between Christmas and Easter of P2) and tests listening, phonic (word sounds) and sequencing skills. This can highlight a particular area that a child is having difficulty with.
This test was introduced to Forge in 2009 and happens once a year. Children from P3-P7 are given a series of words to spell and an approximate spelling age can be determined from the results. Like MIST, this test can be useful for finding what spelling difficulties a child might have.
The Non-reading Intelligence Test occurs once in P4 and is read out by the teacher. The results give a rough guide to the potential of your child.
GL Assessment (Formerly NFER)
Granada Learning (Previously called National Foundation for Educational Research) tests have been used in Forge for several years. There are two tests, maths and English, and these are administered on separate days, once a year, (usually at the end of September/start of October) from P3-P7. Some of the questions can be read out by the teacher, and the answers are written on the test paper. These tests help teachers plan both for the class as a whole (if there is an area that particular class is finding difficult), and for individuals, as scores are monitored from year to year. For example, a test paper might show that a pupil is good at mental maths, but had trouble reading graphs and tables. The results of these tests are primarily for the teachers’ use, but may be referred to at parental interview in October.
CBA (Computer Based Assessments)
These tests are the replacement for the tests previously known as INCAS. There are two tests now called NILA (Northern Ireland Literacy Assessment) and NINA ( Northern Ireland Numeracy Assessment). Based on the Northern Ireland Curriculum and to be standardised using Northern Ireland data from the first tranche of tests. These are diagnostic tests, designed to give teachers and parents an idea about what strengths and needs children have. They are not designed to give a summing up of performance, hence their scheduling nearer the start of the school year. It's very early days for NILA and NINA and the first year has not been without flaws. However we may see the benefits of these NI specific tests in years to come as teething problems are resolved. For parents of a certain age the answer is no, the NINA test doesn't mainly involve counting red balloons up to 99!
End of Key Stage Assessments
Also known as ‘AU’s (assessment units) these take place around Easter in P4 and P7 (end of key stage 1, and 2). In English, children’s writing is evaluated as well as their ability to understand what they have read (comprehension). Not every area of maths is covered, usually only number and data handling (graphs, tables, etc) are tested. The results of these assessments are used along with the teacher's professional judgement to decide what ‘level’ of the Northern Ireland Curriculum your child is working at. These levels will be included on the end of year school report.
Half-Termly Maths Tests
Sometimes referred to as CPMs (Collins Primary Maths Assessment Units) these are for P4-P7 and occur five times a year (only one test in the summer term as it is usually shorter). These test what your child has retained from the previous 5-7 weeks’ work (depending on the term). They will give you good, up to date feedback on how your child is faring in maths and also help teachers plan for the half term ahead.