ASSESSMENT – LIFE WITHOUT LEVELS

 At St Joseph’s our daily on-going formative assessment and our termly summative assessment feed into our tracking system.

During 2014-2015, our School was an integral part of an assessment working party along with other schools from Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham discussing ‘life after levels’. St Joseph’s has taken a lead in implementing new assessment criteria.

The Schools worked closely together to develop a way forward which has been beneficial as consistency among schools has been under threat due to the removal of levels. So, ensuring that a group of schools is using a consistent framework will help in this transition period.

Spreadsheets were developed by the 3BM software team and populated with National Curriculum (NC) statements. Sheets were developed initially for Reading, Writing and Maths for Years 1 – 6.

It was necessary to re-word some NC statements and flesh out others to make them more specific. We quickly identified the need to differentiate NC statements between Years 3 & 4, and between Years 5 & 6, so that we were able to show progress between these year groups.

At the moment children can be assessed in the following ‘phases’:

  • Emerging into a year group’s curriculum
  • Developing into a year group’s curriculum. Or
  • Secure in a year group’s curriculum
  • There is also the capacity to use Mastering as a phase, but how and when this should be used is a school-based decision.

Staff assess children in their class against the NC statements and highlight the spreadsheets termly. To inform the assessments we use evidence from: exercise books; marking feedback; test data; Q & A; guided reading discussions and general knowledge about each child.

The percentage of statements a child has achieved determines which phase they are in. Progress is currently measured in ‘steps’. For example, a child progressing from a Year 6 E to a Year 6 D would have made 1 step progress. The expectation is that a child would make on average 3 steps a year, ie from a Year 3 Secure in July to a Year 4 Secure by the following July.

There is no doubt that the statements on the sheets are challenging and reflective of the new higher expectations of the National Curriculum. For a child to be ‘secure’ in a Year group, which is to say, ‘at age-related expectations’, he or she would be doing very well.

The sheets provide very useful and comprehensive information simultaneously about a cohort and an individual. Hence they help teachers plan for an individual’s progress and additionally what the class needs to work on collectively. In this regard, they are a useful planning and assessing tool, and can be used for on-going purposes. By entering phase information into SIMS, analysis reports can be pulled together and the progress of different groups compared.

The system will be constantly evaluated to ensure that outstanding practice in the school continues. Regular, quality formative feedback will continue. The assessment structures in place: Q & A in lessons; feedback in books; guided reading discussions and end of term tests will largely be unchanged. The main changes are around the ‘language’ associated with children’s attainment and progress. This is a shift for staff, parents, pupils and governors alike.

Obviously work needs to continue to ensure that there is a growing consistency among schools. Moderating and standardising will be an important on-going process. St Joseph’s has been moderating on a regular basis throughout the year both with a cluster of schools and internally with its own school staff.

Consultations with parents and carers should highlight the importance of ‘what a child can do and what he or she needs to do next’ rather than focus on numbers and labels. This, we emphasise, will lead to progress and improvement. Here again, the spreadsheets present this information clearly and also enable leaders to track group, cohort and individual progress.

The Standards and Testing Agency Guidance can be viewed here.