Are you a year 6 teacher?

We would like to invite you to join the teacher focus group for a project investigating test preparation strategies for the mathematics tests at the end of Key Stage Two.

A brief outline of the project

The project, which started in September 2014, is a study on the nature, prevalence and effectiveness of test preparation strategies in mathematics in KS2, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The project team is based at London University’s Institute of Education.

During the course of the Project, we will analyse the design of the key stage 2 mathematics tests, and the changes in the tests as a result of the new National Curriculum. We will implement a vignette study to analyse how teachers distinguish patterns in the old and new tests which influence subject-specific test preparation strategies. In this proposal, effectiveness will be explored qualitatively, using a panel of experts.


Previous studies have indicated many problematic impacts of high stakes testing. They have analysed very general teaching-to-the-test responses (e.g. practicing old test items) but have not addressed the more subtle subject-specific changes that teachers make to their instruction.

Dr Ehren’s experience outside the UK highlights the relevance of a subject-specific approach to studying teachers’ responses. She found that mathematics teachers change their instruction in response to the test; e.g. teaching specific mathematical algorithms to solve particular problems.

We know very little about subject-specific strategies in the UK context; we don’t know what kinds of strategies are used, nor how effective or ineffective they might be in terms of student learning. Nor do we know whether there is potential to reduce negative impacts through better test design. Our research will begin to answer these questions.

The project will last for three years, with a possibility that it may be extended for a further three years to research effectiveness quantitatively, comparing the performances of pupils who have been taught different strategies across different tests.

Focus group

We would like to invite you to participate in a teacher focus group, so that we can take account of year 6 teachers’ views as the Project progresses. Meetings will take place each term, starting in January 2015 until January 2017 (6 meetings in total over the course of 3 years).

Please sign up for the focus group, using the form on the right of this page, if you are interested to share your views on the key stage 2 test and to hear about changes in the test.

Sign up form

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