Assessment without Levels at the Queens' Federation (2016-17)

1. Introduction

Re-designing school assessment systems to track pupils’ progress without levels is a significant challenge for all schools. Effective assessment is a key element of great teaching and great learning. At the Queens’ Federation, we are working to implement and develop assessments that are robust and reliable, consistent and comparable with those in other schools nationally. We are also seeking to make them manageable and useful for teachers, enabling them to focus on pupils’ key next steps in their learning.

In implementing a new system of ‘assessment without levels’, we have set the following priorities:

1) aligning assessments to new, raised national standards in each year group
2) developing a rigorous system of standardisation and moderation both within school and with other schools
3) using assessment judgements to track progress, identify gaps and improve teaching and learning (especially for vulnerable groups)

2. Assessments (Reading, Writing and Maths)

In KS1, teachers make termly teacher assessment judgements in Reading, Writing and Maths based on their ongoing informal observation of the children’s learning. In writing, an independent writing task is also set each term, assessed using a modified version of the ‘Big Writing’ criterion scale, developed by Ros Wilson. In Y2, teachers use the KS1 interim assessment frameworks and previous KS1 tests to ensure their in-year judgements are consistent with national expectations

In KS2, we use the following assessment tools and tasks based on the new curriculum standards, to help inform teachers’ ongoing teacher assessment of the children:

Subject

Term

Assessment

Notes

Writing

Termly

Independent writing task

Assessed using a modified version of the ‘Big Writing’ criterion scale, developed by Ros Wilson

Reading

Autumn

NFER standardised test

Test providing an age-standardised score, aligned to nationwide standards

Spring

Teacher assessment

Judgement based on ongoing assessment of children in guided reading and other reading tasks

Summer

NFER standardised test

Test providing an age-standardised score, aligned to nationwide standards

Maths

Autumn

Assertive Mentoring test

Test assessing key objectives in the maths curriculum to help identify gaps

Spring

Assertive Mentoring test
NFER Arithmetic test

Two tests, one assessing key objectives in the maths curriculum to help identify gaps, one aligned to national expectations for arithmetic

Summer

NFER standardised tests(Arithmetic & Problem-solving)

Tests providing an age-standardised score, aligned to nationwide standards

We work together across the Federation to ensure that our assessment judgements are consistent both within and across our two schools. We devote staff meeting time at each assessment point to standardise our judgements and engage in moderation activities. In addition to this, we are exploring ways to work with other local schools to support each other in making consistent and reliable assessment judgements.

3. Tracking Progress (Y1-6)

In November 2015, we began to use Essex Target Tracker (TT) for our school assessment data in Reading, Writing and Maths. At appropriate termly intervals, children’s attainment is recorded as a ‘step’ on the TT progress ladder. The ladder is divided into 6 bands (which correspond to expectations for each year group, e.g. Band 3 = expectation for Year 3).

These bands are then sub-divided into 6 smaller ‘steps’ to allow us to track progress over the year. These steps are as follows:

Beginning

Beginning +

Within

Within +

Secure

Secure +

b

b+

w

w+

s

s+

Child is just starting to work within the expected standard for the end of the year.

Child is starting to work within the expected standard for the end of the year.

Child is working just at the expected standard for the end of the year.

Child is working at the expected standard for the end of the year.

Child is working at some depth within the expected standard for the end of the year.

Child is working at greater depth within the expected standard for the end of the year.

The expectation of the new curriculum is that children should be working towards securing and ‘mastering’ the curriculum content for their year group, rather than being ‘accelerated’ through content for future years with only a superficial understanding of it. Where children have secured the key objectives for their year group (and are assessed at s or s+), they will be given opportunities to show their understanding and application of those objectives at greater depth, rather than moving them onto the objectives for bands above their year group.

Where children have not secured the key objectives from previous years, we will continue to track their progress through lower bands while seeking to help them catch up and reach the expected standard. We believe this approach balances the need for high expectations with the importance of recognising the steps of progress children are making from their starting points.

In our assessments, we set a minimum threshold for children to cross before they can be considered to be ‘beginning’ to work in a particular band. When children are not yet able to attain that minimum threshold in the assessment, they will be assessed at the lower band, to ensure that important prior knowledge is securely in place.

The TT software enables teachers to quickly review the achievement and progress of their class and of particular vulnerable groups within it (e.g. pupil premium or EAL learners). After each assessment, class teachers will use their TT data to make adjustments to teaching and learning. This may include: revisiting areas of the curriculum with the whole class; providing flexible guided support on objectives that specific groups found challenging; targeting additional 1-1 or small group intervention for children failing to make good progress (or to catch up with their peers).

4. Expected Progress

We define ‘good’ progress when a child moves at least 6 steps up the TT ladder over the course of a full school year (for example, from a 3w+ at the end of Y3 to a 4w+ at the end of Y4). The following are examples of progress by children in Y3:

Child

Y2 Su

Y3 Au

Y3 Sp

Y3 Su

Notes

A

2w+

2s

3b+

3w+

This child finished Y2 at the expected standard. Progress in Y3 autumn was slower, but they progressed 6 steps during Y3 to achieve the expected Y3 standard by the summer.

B

1s

2b+

2w+

3b

This child finished Y2 well below the expected standard. However, they made accelerated progress during Y3 (8 steps) and finished the year starting to work within the expected standard.

C

2s+

3b+

3w+

3s+

This child finished Y2 working at greater depth within the expected standard. They made 6 steps of ‘good’ progress during the year and were working at greater depth in the Y3 standards by the end of the summer.

5. Expected Achievement

We recognise that the new curriculum has significantly raised the expected standard for what children are to achieve in each year group. In time, we would expect most children to achieve this standard. However, in the short term, we realise that children who have not been taught the new curriculum throughout school will be trying to reach this standard from a lower base (this is particularly the case in Writing).

In 2016-17, we are aiming to achieve at least the following minimum standard:

% of children achieving at least the expected standard in each year group

 

Y1

Y2

Y3

Y4

Y5

Y6

Reading

80%

80%

80%

80%

75%

80%

Writing

70%

70%

70%

60%

60%

75%

Maths

80%

80%

80%

80%

75%

85%

We will continually review these expectations each year to ensure that our expectations are suitably high. We will also use results from the new end-of-key-stage national tests and teacher assessments to ensure that our school judgements align closely with the national expectation.

6. Assessment in Other Subjects

In Science, teachers assess their pupils each half-term against the objectives laid out in the National Curriculum for the particular unit they have taught. For each unit, they record whether a child is working towards, at or at greater depth within the expected standard in their knowledge and understanding (and record it in an assessment spreadsheet using the numerical score 1-3). They also select a different aspect of ‘Working Scientifically’ and assess their children in a similar way in that area (using criteria broken down into yearly expectations). These assessments are used to inform a summary end-of-year Science judgement which is recorded in Target Tracker. In Years 2 & 6, we also use of end-of-Key-Stage assessment criteria to ensure our judgments match national expectations.

Assessment in other subjects is carried out informally, with teachers making judgements based on three aspects of the children’s learning in each subject each year. These judgements indicate whether the child is working towards, at or at greater depth within age-related expectations and are incorporated into the child’s end-of-year report. Subject leaders monitor the skills that are assessed in each year group to ensure that there is good progression and to make judgements on standards being achieved.

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