In September 2014, the new National Curriculum became statutory for all children (except for those in Year 2 and 6 this year). One of the many changes that this introduced, was the removal of Levels for assessing pupils’ progress and attainment. You may be familiar with these from previous school reports (2A, 2B, 2C up to a target of 5 in primary, but continuing into secondary.)
Why do we assess?
The purpose of assessment is to let pupils know what they know, find out what they don’t know and support them through great feedback to fill the learning gap. By doing so, it should also encourage them to aspire to excellence.
Different types of assessment
Assessment happens all the time in school; some assessments are formal tests but many are informal observations of children’s learning. Some of the ways in which we assess include: questioning; marking books; observing; listening; spelling tests; and reading groups. Periodically, there are more formal assessments. Pupils in Year 2 and Year 6 will continue to sit externally set assessments in the summer term.
How are schools required to assess now?
The Government has given schools the freedom to develop their own assessment systems and have issued these guidelines about what makes effective assessment:
- Give reliable information to parents about how their child, and their child’s school, is performing
- Allow meaningful tracking of pupils towards end of key stage expectations in the new curriculum, including regular feedback to parents.
- Provide information which is transferable and easily understood and covers both qualitative and quantitative assessment.
- Differentiate attainment between pupils of different abilities, giving early recognition of pupils who are falling behind and those who are excelling.
- Are reliable and free from bias.
- Help drive improvement for pupils and teachers.
- Are closely linked to improving the quality of teaching.
- Ensure feedback to pupils contributes to improved learning and is focused on specific and tangible objectives.
- Produce recordable measures which can demonstrate comparison against expected standards and reflect progress over time.
- Make sure the school is keeping up with external best practice and innovation.
- Are created in consultation with those delivering best practice locally.
- Are created in consideration of, and are benchmarked against, international best practice.
What does this mean for our school?
Over the past 12 months we have devoted time and resources to staff discussions and training in order to prepare for this change. School Pupil Tracker is the tool that we use to track the children’s progress and achievement; this has been updated to meet with the new requirements. Staff have been using it to log information about the children and by the summer term we will be able to share with you where your child is working, in relation to the national expectation for their year group (within age related expectation, above, or below). When you see the data it may appear that there has been a fall in attainment because the new curriculum sets higher expectations than the old one. Consequently, a child who was ‘on-track’ at the end of last year will need to make more than expected progress to be ‘on-track’ at the end of this year.
We will also given your child a ‘Mastery’ level. This measures a child’s ability to apply learning. Above and beyond just knowing a fact, it is a measure of how they are able to use facts and information in increasingly difficult situations or tasks. This is a long-term judgement and is scored on a scale of 1 to 4.
We will continue to use assessment to plan learning and teaching, set meaningful targets and focus additional support where needed. If you would like to know more about assessment please do speak to your child’s teacher or the Head.