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The question writing process

One of CRIPSAT's criteria for generating high quality assessment items is to work alongside KS2 teachers. Despite the fact that both core-team members are experienced primary science practitioners (testifying to over twenty years of primary science teaching between them), they are under no illusions about the necessity to ensure that the KS2 test papers must not only have classroom validity amongst teachers, but also some street cred' amongst pupils.

This strong desire to mature a partnership with KS2 teachers manifests itself in a number of ways:

  1. The observation of good practice in schools

    Many year 5 and 6 teachers are more than happy to share the contents of an interesting and perhaps novel science lesson that they have taught. The more robust will allow a member of the core-team to observe or even participate in a practical science lesson. When confronted with the question 'Have you done any exciting science with your class recently?' teachers will often respond by saying 'No just the usual stuff'. But when subjected to further questioning, the 'usual' often turns into the 'unusual and very interesting', which leads the astute test question writer to respond with 'ah there must be a test question amongst all this'.

    Discussions with pupils can also invigorate a flagging question writer generating fresh contexts for questions.


    If you have some exciting science work going on in your school, why not contact the team at CRIPSAT to arrange a visit.

  2. Question writing meetings

    KS2 teachers with a proven track record of excellence in primary science are invited to be part of the question writing process, working along side members of the core team at CRIPSAT and the ACCAC KS1-3 science officers. Such collaborations ensure that teachers are given an opportunity not only to share their classroom experiences, but also to gain an insight into the question writing and development process. This is what two teachers has to say about their experiences:

Pre-testing of test papers

Test questions, which have been approved by the Test Review Group, are subjected to two pre-tests in a representative sample of year 6 classes in schools throughout Wales. The ACCAC Schools Database Unit provides CRIPSAT with a representative sample of schools that have agreed to participate in a pre-test of science test papers.

A team of between eight and ten administrators (all experienced primary science practitioners) and two members of the core-team take the pre-test papers to the schools in every Welsh authority.

The Levels 2-3 and 3-5 papers, English and Welsh medium are administered using methods which closely resemble those utilised to administer the live tests in May each year, but at the pre-test stage the pupils are told that 'it is a test of the assessment items and not a test of their ability in science'.

Year 6 pupils participating in one of the pre-tests.

Schools that are interested in being part of the science pre-testing process should contact the ACCAC Schools Database Unit on 02920 375400

Central marking of pre-test scripts

CRIPSAT is responsible for the arranging of a two-day central marking exercise to accommodate the coding and marking of pre-test scripts. A team of experienced KS2 science markers (most of whom are part of the WJEC's external marking team) are invited to a central location in North Wales to mark approximately 2000 Levels 3-5 English and Welsh medium scripts. The Levels 2-3 scripts are marked by members of the core-team at CRIPSAT.

Central marking, under the leadership of Dewi Roberts and Mark Thomas, provides an opportunity for markers to air important mark-scheme considerations, often leading to useful informative discussions regarding which pupil responses should be allowed. Markers' comments are subsequently incorporated into a pre-test report written by CRIPSAT for ACCAC, which informs a developing mark scheme formulated by the KS1-3 Science Professional Officer at ACCAC and the KS2 Science Chief Marker.

Diligent markers demonstrating extensive concentration during a pre-test marking exercise at a hotel in St Asaph, Denbighshire (November 2001).

Anyone interested and suitably qualified to become a KS2 science markers should get in touch with a member of the core-team at CRIPSAT .

CRIPSAT, University of Liverpool, 126 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L69 3GR - 0151 794 3270