Assessment Without Levels
Following the introduction of a new National Curriculum framework from September 2014, the government has also decided to remove level descriptors. The government’s policy of removing level descriptors from the National Curriculum is set out in terms of freeing schools from an imposed measure of pupil progress. The Department for Education has said that levels are not very good with respect to helping parents to understand how far their child is improving. In their place, from September 2014, “it will be for schools to decide how they assess pupils’ progress”.
With levels removed and the focus now on raising the achievement of every pupil, Holy Name’s governors board, leaders and teachers have chosen a new way to measure pupil attainment and progress.
During the academic year 2014-15, the school is in a period of transition from old levels to new assessment descriptors:
Nursery and Reception assessments are not changing in school or nationally.
Year groups 1, 3, 4 and 5 will be assessed against new descriptors, in summer 2015 (see below).
Year groups 2 and 6 will continue to be assessed using levels and sub-levels, in-line with national testing arrangements for 2015.
National Curriculum: Tim Oates on Assessment
Tim Oates from Cambridge Assessment talks about the purpose of changes to assessment in the new curriculum and rationale behind moving away from levels.
Our New Assessment System
The old and new curriculum have different content. Many of the objectives in the old curriculum have shifted to lower year groups in the new, more rigorous curriculum, this means it is not possible to have an exact correlation between a level that was the outcome of the old National Curriculum assessment and the requirements new National Curriculum, this means a shift in thinking and in the way we assess out children’s outcomes.
The school has welcomed the changes in the National Curriculum and saw it as an exciting opportunity to review our assessment and reporting systems to create a more holistic approach that makes sense to parents. We were very clear that whatever assessment tool we used, it needed to be robust and track pupils’ progress across the school and not just at the end of a Key Stage.
We are now in the process of assessing children against the new framework, one for which they may have not been taught the previous years’ objectives and content, so we are in a time of transition between old and new sets of data.
The principles that underpin our new assessment system are:
Every child can achieve: teachers at Holy Name have the mindset, ‘What do I need to do next to enable a child in my class to achieve?’
The National Curriculum objectives will be used as the expectations for all children.
Children will make age appropriate progress – 12 months in 12 months.
Teachers are experts at assessment – assessment will be effectively used to ensure the correct scaffolding is built into lessons to ensure all children achieve.
In order to be ‘secondary ready’ children need to meet the required end of Key Stage 2 expectations; this is broken down into key outcomes for each curriculum year. We use the National Curriculum objectives to assess outcomes for children at the end of each curriculum year – for example:
A child that has achieved all the objectives set out for Year 3 for English (and no further) would be said to be working at the end of Year 3 expectation for English.
A child achieving half or so of the mathematics objectives for Year 5 would be classed as working at the mid-Year 5 expectation for maths.
A child achieving only a few reading objectives for Year 1 would be classed as working at the beginning of Year 1 expectation.
Our assessment and reporting system includes:
Ongoing assessment by the class teacher throughout each lesson, through questioning, observation and dialogue.
Children knowing what they are being asked to learn and more importantly, why.
Success Criteria are discussed and agreed with or formulated by the children during each lesson, work is then assessed against the success criteria.
Pupil and Teacher feedback with clearly identified next steps – this can be written or verbal feedback.
Regular pupils’ work scrutiny.
Tracking Progress Over Time
We will use Golden Codes to track pupils’ progress over time, against age-related expectations in each subject area:
Secure, reflecting that age-related objectives have been achieved
Mastering, showing that age-related objectives have been achieved and the child is working at a deeper level of understanding and application
The Golden Codes and tracking scheme are the back-bone to track progress across the school. These will be recorded on SPTO as the year group followed by the code, for example: Yr3E (Year 3 Emerging), Yr4S (Year 4 Secure).
We will be replacing Average Point Scores (APS) with Tracking Points. Tracking Points can be used to examine progress and attainment numerically (as an average).
The Tracking Point scale starts at Tracking Point 1, which is the first term in the first year in Nursery. This can then be counted up to Tracking Point 15 (the end of Year 2) and Tracking Point 27 (the end of Year 6). All year groups move on 3 tracking points in a year, one for each of the Golden Codes. The expectation is that children make 12 months progress in 12 months.
More Able Children
For children who have securely met the end of year objectives they will be assessed as exceeding or mastering objectives for their age group. Rather than moving onto the next year’s curriculum these children will work on ‘mastering’ their knowledge through the application of skills in different contexts – they will be deepening their learning.
The depth and application of a child’s learning is an important marker of their achievement and progress.
Early Years – Nursery and Reception
Children in Nursery and Reception will continue to be assessed against the Prime and Specific areas of Learning in the EYFS profile.
Assessments will be based on observation of daily activities and events. At the end of Reception for each Early Learning Goal, teachers will judge whether a child is meeting the level of development expected at the end of the Reception year:
Emerging, not yet reached the expected level of development
Exceeding, beyond the expected level of development for their age
Progress will be tracked using Tracking Points (see above).