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 →