KS2 Reading Tests Word Count Increase: DfE Urged To Give More Time
It seems that there’s a bit of theme going on around exams at the moment. A lot of issues need resolving. There are now calls to allow students more time to take their KS2 reading tests. This comes after a 45 per cent increase to the word count this year. The total word count, across the three tests taken in May this year, was 2,168. This is by far the longest it has been since the launch of the new primary curriculum in 2014.
Previous KS2 Reading Tests
2014. It fell just 132 words short of the government’s maximum word count.
Teacher Tim Roach has analysed previous tests and determined that 2018’s exam was only 1,488 words long, which was actually a 23 per cent decrease over the 1,937 words in 2017.
This year, the number of students achieving the government’s ‘expected standard’ in reading
The government’s guidelines for KS2 reading tests state they should be between 1,500 and 2,300 words long. This means that this year’s test does fall within the guidelines, but right at the top end of the scale. The sudden increase this year has brought forward concerns that students with a slower reading rate may struggle to complete the tests
The Official Word
Chris Rossiter, chief exec of The Driver Youth Trust commented on the increase:
We agree and support the aspiration for high standards, but this must be alongside support which ensures pupils with literacy difficulties can access the assessment. If a pupil has a slower reading rate of, say, 90 words per minute, then by the time they had read the 2019 text they had under one minute to answer each question. Even if the pupil was eligible for access arrangements, this only gave, on average, an extra 20 seconds per question. We simply don’t believe this is sufficient.
Labour MP Sharon Hodgson is the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on dyslexia and SpLD. She has asked the government to increase the allotted time for the exam:
We know that for children with a literacy difficulty, these tests can be really daunting. It seems terribly unfair that those who are struggling to read at age 10 are being subjected to timed tests and that the test this year was so much longer than previous years. I would like to see the government reconsider its approach to assessment at this age, particularly for those children with special educational needs.
In response to Hodgson, schools minister Nick Gibb said:
The test framework for the English reading test places a limit on the number of words that can be included in the texts and this limit has not been breached. Assessments go through a rigorous test development process lasting three years. Thorough trialling of the materials, with the texts in the combinations they will appear in a final test, allows test developers to ensure the reading booklets are suitable and that the standard is maintained.
As always, we want to hear your opinions. What are your thoughts on the KS2 reading tests? Is an increase to the time limit required? Perhaps you think the word count is too high? Whatever your thoughts, be sure to let us know in the comments!