The DfE won’t have complete performance descriptors available until September, but today they did release the test frameworks for the creators of the National Curriculum tests. And like it or not, we know that the tests will be the all-important markers of attainment at the end of KS2, so the content of the performance descriptors for the tests is important.

So, what will children be expected to be able to do in order to reach the “expected standard” in the KS2 tests? Perhaps it’s easier to pick out some of the content which is not likely to be required. The performance descriptors within the test framework (which are expressly not intended for teacher assessment) outline the “typical characteristics of pupils whose performance in the key stage 2 tests is at the threshold of the expected standard”

Notably for KS2 maths, the performance descriptor doesn’t contain any mention of the following elements of the Year 5/6 mathematics curriculum:

- Use the rules of order of operations
- Identify prime numbers (other than knowing those up to 20)
- Multiply/divide fractions*
- Convert between metric and imperial units
- Calculate the area of parallelograms and triangles
- Calculate, estimate and compare volume of cuboids
- Illustrate and name parts of circles
- Recognise vertically opposite angles
- Recognise and use cube numbers
- Read Roman numerals (other than on clocks)

That’s not to say that none of these things will come up on the tests. Simply that they don’t feature in the performance descriptor for threshold of “the expected standard”. Presumably, therefore, such things are indicative of students working at a higher level than just meeting the expected standard.

This isn’t to suggest that such things needn’t be taught. Far from it. But it’s worth knowing that in that unmanageable list of things that need to be covered by the end of KS2 (particularly challenging for the current Y5s who’ve had less than a year on the new curriculum), there are some which are perhaps marginally less vital than others!

It’s interesting to make a comparison to the performance descriptor which appears in the Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test framework. Here virtually the entirety of the Year 6 curriculum content features in the ‘expected standard’ descriptor. The only things I can see that are not include are the subjunctive form, and the use of brackets. It doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for higher attainers to have any room to demonstrate their additional skill.

It’s interesting. I make no promises though. What you do with this detail is entirely up to you, and I accept no responsibilty. If you want to compare the criteria yourself, the National Curriculum content can be found at www.primarycurriculum.me.uk, and the test frameworks at www.gov.uk/dfe

** The performance descriptor for the tests does include the suggestion that pupils should be “becoming more confident with more complex fraction calculations” – without defining what this means. *