As part of the 2013 Primary Assessment and Accountability consultation, the DfE consulted on a set of core principles to underpin effective assessment systems within schools. Following feedback from the consultation responses, these principles were further developed by an independent Expert Panel.
For many of us, levels are an intrinsic part of the National Curriculum. We’ve come to view the notion of progression through levels from the ages of 5 to 14 as a key element of teaching and assessment. We’re also used to being held accountable for the progress made, and justifying the work we do, by identifying how the pupils we teach are now working at a higher level.
It’s a vagary of the calendar, but not one that my own children are reluctant to exploit, that I started teaching not only in the previous century but in the previous millennium (thanks guys). It’s certainly true that I taught in a pre-National Curriculum levels system; whereas there was more freedom, I’m not sure we used it well and I’m certainly not inclined to hark back to it with longing (apart from the music).
ASSESSING PROGRESS AND OUTCOMES AGAINST THE NEW NATIONAL CURRICULUM
We’re now faced with the challenge of deciding how best to assess progress and outcomes through new programmes of study. There’s no expectation to use levels, but we do need to track pupils effectively.
Which way now?
I think it’s important to start with looking at the purposes of assessment. I would suggest that there are multiple outcomes and that a good system needs to provide all of these. In essence we need to use assessment to:
- inform next steps in teaching
- provide meaningful feedback to pupils on what they’ve done well and how to improve
- provide evidence for accountability
- communicate to parents and carers how their children are doing.
Are levels (or a reworked system thereof) the answer? What do they offer? Continue reading →
The government has finally published its long awaited response to the consultation on primary school assessment and accountability, which closed in October 2013. The response is published in the 24 page document called Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools. The consultation gathered responses from 1187 individuals and organisations, of which 27% were from primary school headteachers and a further 27% from primary teachers.
The stated aims are two-fold. First, to ‘set high expectations so that all children can reach their potential and are well prepared for secondary school’ so that no child is allowed to fall behind and second, ‘to celebrate the progress that pupils make in schools with more challenging intakes’.
So what is proposed?
To help schools identify the key challenges posed by the proposals, Rising Stars has provided the following short overview of the key points from the document.
- The document states thatnationalassessments will take place at key points during a child’s primary education, but makes clear that at other times there will be no national prescription. Teachers will therefore be free to use their own methods for day-to-day assessment of their pupils, to inform teaching and to feedback to pupils and parents about attainment and progress.
- The document emphasises that good teachers assess children on a regular basis. To help with this the government launched an ‘Assessment Innovation Fund’ in December for schools or groups to bid for up to £10,000 each to develop easy-to-use approaches to pupil assessment for other schools to use free of charge. The expectation was that up to 10 bids would be successful with the results announced towards the end of April. No information has been provided as to when the approaches will be available for other schools to download and use. Continue reading →
Following release of the government’s response to the assessment and accountability for primary schools last week, the DfE have now published drafts of the frameworks for the new national assessments, which will be introduced summer 2016.
After a considerable wait, the DfE has finally published the response to the consultation on primary school assessment and accountability which ended in October last year.
Answers to all your Rising Stars New Curriculum Assessment questions
Rising Stars Progress Tests and the new National Curriculum
What are the Rising Stars Progress Tests for?
The Progress Tests have been specifically designed to assess pupil progress against the new National Curriculum Programmes of Study. The tests have been written and reviewed by curriculum and assessment experts to ensure that the tests are suitable for the intended age group, assess the relevant requirements of the new curriculum and have clear, unambiguous mark schemes.
Who are the Rising Stars Progress Tests for?
The Rising Stars Progress Tests provide separate tests for pupils in Years 1-6. The tests assess the Programme of Study for the particular year group and subject.
How do the Rising Stars Progress Tests help teachers?
The Rising Stars Progress Tests provide teachers with useful evidence about how pupils in their class are progressing against the new National Curriculum Programmes of Study. They can also be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in pupils’ learning. The evidence can be used for planning as well as for reporting.
How were the questions in the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests matched to the new Programmes of Study for each year group?
All the questions in the Rising Stars Assessment Progress Tests were written to be used with the new National Curriculum Programmes of Study. Authors were given detailed briefs about the content and demand required for the tests for each year group and all questions were reviewed by experienced curriculum and assessment experts to check fit with the new National Curriculum. Continue reading →
The Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment range has been written by a team of specialist teachers and advisers.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Progress Tests
Marie Lallaway has led English teams from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 across 25 years of teaching. She has contributed to the development of national and international English teaching and assessment materials, and conducted research on behalf of national agencies.
Mathematics Progress Tests
Trevor Dixon has over 30 years’ teaching experience in primary schools and has led mathematics in three schools. Trevor has written assessment materials for Letts, OCR and Pearson Edexcel, as well as Rising Stars. He has been involved with writing questions for KS1 and KS2 SATs Mathematics papers and has been involved in trialling these questions in schools; furthermore he has worked as a KS2 SATs Mathematics marker for a number of years. Trevor is an associate of the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching of Mathematics.
Jenny Lawson has taught Mathematics at all levels, from the basic concepts of counting for special needs children through to A level Mathematics, and consulted on the training of teachers in Numeracy Key Skills. Her publishing career includes the co-authorship of GL Assessment’s Measuring Success in Maths Years 1-5 and she has written Years 3 and 4 for the Rising Stars Learn, Practise, Revise range which is used in lower Key Stage 2. Jenny has written sample SATs material for Years 5 and 6 and is completely conversant with the previous curriculum and the changes in moving to the new curriculum. Continue reading →
The Rising Stars New National Curriculum range has been reviewed, trialled and tested by a team of assessment experts and advisory schools.
Bob Penrose, Assessment Consultant
Bob started work as a teacher and progressed to working for AQA for 33 years as variously Subject Manager, Project Manager for World Class tests and finally as Principal Manager for Technology. He spent a year on secondment to Becta as Head of e-Assessment developing their e-assessment strategy. Bob was a founding member of the e-Assessment Advisory Group and represented AQA for eight years. He has been a board member of the e-Assessment Association for three years and remains a member.
Sue Walton, Assessment and Publishing Consultant
Sue Walton worked in educational publishing before joining the Assessment Division of QCA in 2000. While at QCA, Sue was Project Director for the KS3 ICT Onscreen Test Project and also for eVIVA, a research project exploring the use of e-porfolios for formative assessment.
Cornwall Learning were series advisers on the Rising Stars New National Curriculum Assessment range:
‘These assessments will provide a way for you to track attainment through the primary years in the absence of levels. They will allow you to determine whether your pupils are reaching or exceeding expected progress and where to provide extra support if necessary. The challenge embedded in the assessments will ensure pupils aspire to their full potential.’
Programme Director, The Inspire Curriculum at Cornwall Learning Continue reading →
THE PHASING OUT OF NATIONAL CURRICULUM LEVELS
National Curriculum levels will cease for Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 at the end of this academic year and for Years 2 and 6 at the end of the 2014/15 academic year. In future schools will be expected to make their own decisions about how to assess pupils. This has implications for future Ofsted inspections, which currently rely heavily on National Curriculum level-related data in RAISEOnline.
HOW OFSTED PLAN TO INSPECT SCHOOLS
This excerpt from Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech at the North of England Education Conference in January 2014, illustrates what Ofsted will be looking for when carrying out their inspections:
Good schools have always tracked their pupils’ progress and Ofsted will expect to see this continue. We will not endorse any particular approach. But we do expect every school to be able to show what their pupils know, understand and can do through continuous assessment and summative tests.
I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t set targets for children to achieve at the end of any key stage. I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t use assessment to establish whether children are hitting those targets. I have never seen a good or outstanding school that doesn’t have summative tests at the end of each year.
Regular testing has received a bad press in recent years, as if it were somehow separate and antithetical to the business of education. It is not. It is an essential tool that allows students and their teachers to assess progress. Continue reading →
by Sue Walton, assessment consultant and part of the Rising Stars Assessment advisory team.
The wait for information about the Government’s proposals for assessment in primary schools was a long one and it wasn’t until July last year that we finally had sight of the proposals – and there were some surprises!
THE PROPOSALS IN OUTLINE
A key change was the abolition of national curriculum levels and level descriptions. The Government plans to give schools the freedom to carry out day-to-day formative assessment however they choose. So it will now be up to schools to decide what assessment regime they follow.
However, schools will still need to be able to demonstrate that pupils are making progress against the new curriculum. This means they will need to decide what evidence to collect to show to Ofsted and also what and how they report to parents.
These proposals mean that not only do schools now have a new curriculum to prepare for, they also have to create a new way of tracking their pupils’ progress. This will be challenging. The new attainment targets have very general wording. They state that ‘by the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study’. This is all well and good, but how should teachers go about deciding that each pupil can in fact apply and understand the curriculum as well as ‘know’ it? For example, does the pupil just need to demonstrate a skill in maths once, or do they need to do it several times? Continue reading →