What will be the future of writing assessment?

Thanks to Michael Tidd for the following article. Posted May 2016. 

It seems fair to say that the interim teacher assessment frameworks have not been warmly welcomed this year. With Year 6 tests out of the way, and Year 2 tests swiftly following suit, attention is turning now in school to the process of teacher assessment for 2016.

Particularly in Writing, that process this year involves a lot of searching for technical features and punctuation throughout pieces of writing – and not much appreciation for the quality of the overall product. Teachers have quickly had to become adept at spotting hyphens and dashes, or finding ways of including exclamation sentences in seven-year-olds’ writing.

For now, it’s a system we’re stuck with, and teachers will find the best ways they can of dealing with it. These Writing Checklists will help both teachers and their students to provide the relevant evidence for this year, but what of the future? What are the alternatives?

Common Tasks

One possible alternative is the return of tests. They probably wouldn’t return in their current form, having not that long ago been scrapped, but it would be possible to insist on the completion of common tasks nationally which could return to being externally assessed. One of the significant issues also exists in the current systems – teacher assistance. Having seen coursework at GCSE scrapped because of the difficulties of ensuring a level playing field, it seems that anything short of test conditions could be fraught with difficulty. Continue reading →

Writing Moderation – Clarification and Updates on Key Changes

Thank you to Shareen Mayers for the following helpful summary of recent updates and changes in writing moderation. 

The following article includes useful information about:

  • Writing moderation changes
  • Using the Interim Assessment Frameworks to assess pupils’ writing 
  • KS1 and KS2 Writing Materials
  • Clarification of handwriting and joined up/cursive handwriting for KS1 and KS2
  • Gathering evidence – what does ‘independent writing’ mean?
  • Essential requirements for schools
  • Official STA Clarification of the frequency of evidence in each piece
  • STA Clarification on exclamations for KS1 and KS2

Every LA has the flexibility to carry out the moderation process according to local needs. However, it is statutory to use the Interim Assessment Framework as a checklist to check that pupils have met the ‘working towards’, ‘expected’ or ‘greater depth’ within the expected standard. Continue reading →

2016 teacher assessment exemplification materials now published for English, mathematics and science

The 2016 teacher assessment exemplification materials are now available for Key Stage 1 and 2 in English, mathematics and science. These exemplification materials have been published by the Department for Education to support teacher assessment of each pupil at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2.

Continue reading →

Writing exemplification materials and the implications for teaching

Thank you to Maddy Barnes for this article. 

As English lead at a one form entry primary school and LA moderator in Manchester, I have eagerly awaited the writing exemplification materials. Like many, I have spent time analysing what the main implications for teaching will be in order to ensure that as many of our pupils achieve at least the expected standard at KS1 and KS2.

These are my main findings:

I was very reassured to see within the annotated materials the section that references the commentary of the piece as a whole, its overall composition in terms of appropriateness to purpose and audience, its organization and cohesion and any edits made during the process. This confirmed that although purpose and audience are not explicitly referred to in the interim framework statements, they are considered as part of the assessment. I will be re-enforcing the message in my setting that in order for our pupils to write at their best, we must provide a high quality stimulus (picture book, extract, object, text, film clip, picture etc.…) and analyse the purpose of the writing and the nature of the audience.

It also pleased me to find that the large majority of pieces of writing included at both KS1 and at KS2 were writing activities related to a text – Anne Fine, Shakespeare, Julia Donaldson, Gareth Edwards, Philippa Pearce, C.S. Lewis and Michael Morpurgo are some listed. As we are a school that teach English around a book, I feel that we are indeed ‘doing things right.’ Pupils are emerged in a high quality text, they read and analyse the language before planning a piece of writing that they will later edit and proof read. Continue reading →

Is the new standard for writing equivalent to Level 5?

Shareen Mayers reveals why the new writing standard might not be as scary as we had expected …

After much anticipation, the long-awaited writing exemplification materials were published a few weeks ago. For some, the expectation of the materials seemed more like the equivalent of the old Level 5, and many teachers (but not all) were very anxious about this. I am hoping to put you at ease by demonstrating that the new standard might not be as high as Level 5. While the use of punctuation (e.g. semi-colons, brackets, etc) and some sentence structures are clearly Level 5, pupils need to use semi-colons in a list and not for two independent clauses to be at the expected standard. I am pleased about this because teaching the wider usage of semi-colons and expecting all pupils to use this in their writing is a real challenge.

Key issue

Within the writing exemplification collection of work, there are two examples of writing at the expected standard – Morgan and Leigh. The examples from Leigh have caused the most controversy because Leigh is clearly a borderline pupil. Leigh is using some aspects of the ‘greater depth’ standard but has too many gaps to be given that standard. However, Morgan isn’t working at the greater depth standard at all but is still being given exactly the same standard as Leigh. It is like comparing a good school and a good school with outstanding features – both are still ‘good’ schools. Continue reading →

Primary school teacher assessment deadline changed to 30th June

Following a series of conversations with NAHT, the DfE has agreed to change the deadline for primary school teacher assessment for 2016 only.

In a letter to NAHT, Schools Minister Nick Gibb confirmed that the department will change the deadline for this year’s assessments at key stage 1 and 2 to 30th June.

Continue reading →

It’s time to leave your old curriculum questions behind

Thanks to our guest blogger and Deputy Head teacher Michael Tidd for the following article.

Where do you keep yours? We all have them somewhere, often hidden out of view, but ready to be pulled out and used at any moment.

I’m talking, of course, of old test papers. They’re usually stacked in a cupboard somewhere, often in increasingly-tatty boxes with hastily-scrawled labels on them. In many cases, there are papers there that are older than the children in our classrooms. Chances are, there’ll be at least one for which the mark scheme has long since disappeared.

It’s time to let go. It’s hard, but necessary. Clear the shelf-space, fill the recycling bin, and enter the brave new world. They’re redundant, like it or not, and their time has passed. If it helps, keep a copy of each for posterity. After all, it seems harsh to discard Evelyn Glennie and Sharon Brown the lorry driver entirely.

Why am I urging the previously unthinkable? Because the new curriculum is here, the new tests are on the horizon, and assessment needs to change. We know that the tests are now useless as a predictor of success in the new tests: for a start, a level is meaningless in the new word of scaled scores. More importantly, the tests no longer assess the content we are required to teach.

There’ll be those who argue that sitting a test is still good practice. And I agree. But there are new tests that match the new curriculum that serve this need more effectively. Others will say that the questions are still a good assessment tool, and there I agree again. But sitting three maths test papers for the benefit of a handful of diagnostic points is overkill. Why make children sit through papers with questions on probability and modal averages that they’ll not need to reach the expected standard for at the end of the Key Stage? Continue reading →

Interim frameworks for teacher assessment at the end of key stage 1 and 2: now published

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Interim frameworks for teacher assessment at the end of key stage 1 and 2: now published

Following the removal of teacher assessment levels, statutory interim frameworks have been developed to support teachers in making robust and accurate judgements for pupils at the end of key stage 1  and 2 in 2016.

Continue reading →