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Institute of Education Blog


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Word problems in standardised maths tests: how fair are the Key Stage 2 SATs?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 October 2016

Melanie Ehren
Word problems feature strongly on many high stakes standardised maths tests. We found these kinds of test items in research in the United States in 2010 (on the New York State and Massachusetts grades 3-5 tests for children aged 8-11). The two reasoning papers on England’s new Mathematics Key Stage 2 test, sat by 10 to 11-year-olds in May 2016, also include a range of word problems. The item below is an example from the sample 2016 test:
Word problems require children to translate the words of the question into a workable maths problem and decide which operations to carry out. They may include a range of (more…)