Improving Mathematics in Key Stages 2 and 3

Thanks to John Dabell for this article.

Improving Mathematics in Key Stages 2 and 3’ is the latest report from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and presents sharp, intelligent and actionable guidance to support “great maths teaching” in primary and secondary schools.

The guidance is relevant to all pupils but in particular to those children who fall below their expected level of mathematics achievement. The report adopts the premise that it is essential to see maths as a pump rather than a filter in the pipeline of education but this can only be achieved through tapping into what works and is supported by research.

A vital enabler in the strengthening of teaching, learning and assessment is good access to relevant evidence; this report can help guide teachers towards this as its key focus is to promote a culture of evidence-led best practice.

Continue reading →

Using standardised testing to support teacher understanding

Using standardised testing to support teacher understanding

By Tyrone Samuel, Network Lead for Primary Data and Assessment

The new academic year is in full swing, and as we enter autumn 2, I have already visited the majority of our primary schools as the Network Lead for Primary Assessment and Data at Ark.

Autumn 1 has been as busy and intense as ever for me, supporting schools with their data analysis and training, bringing our assessment leads together to collaborate on good practice, as well as sharing key lessons, messages and insights. This has helped to focus minds on our Ark network mission, to make sure that every pupil can go to university or into the career of their choice by setting high expectations and striving to know every pupil.

Continue reading →

Applying for access arrangements for GCSE

What are access arrangements?

According to the Joint Council for Qualifications, ‘access arrangements are pre-examination adjustments for candidates based on evidence of need and normal way of working.’ Schools can apply for 25% extra time in GCSE exams by applying for access arrangements, and usually the SENCo and/or the specialist assessor working within the school will process the applications online.

How can you apply for extra time and who is eligible?

In order to award extra time the school must assess the needs of the pupil based on one of the following documents:

  • Statement of Special Educational Needs relating to secondary education, or an Education, Health and Care Plan, which confirms the candidate’s disability; or
  • Assessment carried out no earlier than the start of Year 9 by an assessor confirming a learning difficulty relating to secondary/further education.

Continue reading →

9 things you need to know about the new teacher assessment framework for writing at KS1 and KS2

Thanks to Shareen Mayers for this article.

Shareen has been a KS1 moderator for a decade and a KS2 writing moderator for 6 years.  She is the lead moderator and moderation manager for a London LA.

Following the DfE’s response to the assessment consultation this September, we asked Shareen Mayers to share her thoughts on the changes to the teacher assessment framework for writing at key stages 1 and 2. If you’d like to share your thoughts, get in touch with us on @rsassessment.

  • A more flexible approach to the assessment of writing.

It is important to clarify that the more flexible approach to writing does not apply to reading, mathematics or science. They are still assessed as a secure-fit and pupils need to secure all the statements. The more flexible approach also needs to be interpreted with caution. The DfE states, ‘A pupil’s writing should meet all the statements within the standard at which they are judged. However, teachers can use their discretion to ensure that, on occasion, a particular weakness does not prevent an accurate judgement being made of a pupil’s attainment overall. A teacher’s professional judgement about whether the pupil has met the standard overall takes precedence. This approach applies to English writing only.’ This flexibility has been welcomed by many teachers within the profession and has been seen as a sensible approach to writing assessment.

  Continue reading →

Formative assessment as an integrated part of good practice in the classroom

Thanks to Siobhan Skeffington  for the following article.

Siobhan Skeffington is an education consultant, author and reviewer also involved in test development and Primary Teacher for 26 years including SLT and Leading teacher.

Formative and summative assessments are very different.  Summative assessment gives a picture of how the child is progressing at any given point and enables teachers and schools to gauge the overall attainment; this can also be used for accountability purposes. Formative assessment needs to be part of everyday practice and lesson planning, as it focuses on improving learning.

Assessment is often seen as a tool to be planned for in the form of a spelling or mental maths test. Teachers and senior leaders can often feel pressurised to do constant mini summative tests believing these give a clear indication of how pupils are performing. These tests can be informative but the best formative assessment or ‘assessment for learning’ is through the conversations between the children and the teachers during the normal course of the day.  Through carefully planned questioning, open ended activities and marking that allows children to review their own work, formative assessment can give teachers a wealth of information to use when planning the next steps for learning.  If used appropriately, they will have identified any misconceptions or gaps in knowledge and will be better-able to determine what the children actually know.

Continue reading →

What are the challenges in assessing pupils working below the expected standard?

Thanks to Lorraine Petersen, Independent Educational Consultant – Former Chief Executive of Nasen, for the following article.

 

Setting the scene

Statutory assessment plays an important role in ensuring that every child is supported to leave primary school prepared to succeed. It is crucial that every school is able to demonstrate every pupil’s personal attainment and progress not just at the end of a key stage but throughout their primary education.

Those pupils who have not completed the relevant programmes of study when they reach the appropriate age for statutory assessments do not have the knowledge and skills to achieve expected standard in the national curriculum tests. This is a diverse group including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with English as an additional language. Schools have to look for other ways to monitor and celebrate success and progress for this group of pupils.

Continue reading →

How preparing for the SATs is like training for a marathon

Thanks to Cerys Hadwin-Owen, Assessment Publisher for RS Assessment for Hodder Education, for the following article.

On the face of it, training for a marathon and preparing for SATs might seem like completely different experiences. However many assessment experts have recognised the similarities between sport and assessment in the past (including Daisy Christodoulou in her latest book). Here at RS Assessment from Hodder Education, we find it really helpful when explaining to schools and teachers how our wide range of assessment resources work together, and amidst the very valid concerns around over-testing that face both primary and secondary schools in the current climate, we feel it’s an analogy worth sharing.

Continue reading →

Changes to GCSEs

From August 2017 GCSE students in England will be examined using more challenging papers, designed to match the exams of their peers in high-performing education systems around the world.

Changes to the qualifications are designed to ensure that young people will leave school with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace or further study.  The new GCSEs will be awarded using a new number grading scale, rather than the traditional letter scale, running from 9 to 1 (with 9 as the highest grade) rather than from A* to G. Continue reading →

The benefits of interactive assessment

Thanks to Camilla Erskine for this article. 

What is interactive assessment?

Interactive assessments are those that are completed and automatically marked on a computer or mobile device. There are various types of interactive tests, ranging from ready-made tests – either specifically for digital use or those that have been adapted from existing paper-based tests – to tailor-made tests that are created from a bank of questions. Such customised tests can be as short or long as the teacher wishes, focusing on a particular topic or style of question, or they may be designed to assess across topics that have been taught over a period of time, for example over the last half term. Some interactive tests can also be created by children themselves – it depends on the system being used. Interactive assessments are most widely used in mathematics as the subject generally lends itself well to automatic marking, but they are also available for English and other subjects as well as to assess skills (e.g. cognitive reasoning).

Continue reading →

Is your end-of-year assessment data as helpful as it can be?

Thanks to Deputy Head Michael Tidd for this post.

As another year draws to a close, conversations in school revolve around new classes, end-of-year reports and sports days – and of course, final assessments. For those teaching in Year 6, much of that is taken out of our hands, and the work is done by this time of the year, but not so for the other year groups. And it’s the other year groups that we’ll be taking forward into the new academic year.

We talk a lot as a profession about the doubts raised in secondary schools about Key Stage 2 data, and even in junior schools about infant data, but we tend to be a bit more circumspect about the same challenges within our schools. So how do we make sure that our end-of-year assessment data is just as valuable as a start-of-year indicator to the new teacher?

Continue reading →