Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, talks about the curriculum and the relationship between Ofsted and data

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, delivered an insightful speech at the Wellington Festival of Education. So, we’ve picked out a handful of key points (particularly about the curriculum and the relationship between Ofsted and data) that we think you’ll find interesting ahead of next year…

 

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3 ways to reduce unnecessary workload with standardised tests

Katie_Blainey_standardised_reduce_workloadPublishing Director, Katie Blainey, explores unnecessary workload and how using standardised tests can save you heaps of valuable time!

It may sound unintuitive that an increase in testing can ultimately reduce workload for teachers and increase pupils’ learning, but it is worth considering. Increasingly, primary schools, secondary schools and MATs are adopting standardised tests across the school to support informed teaching and save time. Here are just 3 reasons why…

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Planned changes to accountability and why standardisation is more important than ever

James Pembroke is back with another blog, and this time he’s talking all about the planned changes to accountability and why this means that standardisation is more important than ever!

Standardisation_assessmentFor as long as most of us can remember, the progress of pupils in primary schools has been measured from Key Stage 1. Prior to 2016 we had a mixed economy of a levels of progress measure – where making two levels of progress across Key Stage 2 was defined as ‘expected’ – and a value added (VA) measure, in which each pupil’s score at key stage 2 was compared to the national average score of pupils with similar Key Stage 1 prior attainment. This dual approach to measuring progress was confusing because the two measures did not relate to one another. In fact, they were often at odds, and it was entirely feasible for a school to have all pupils make the expected progress of two levels and yet end up with a VA score that was significantly below average. Something had to give.

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Helping MATs make sense of their data

James Pembroke is the founder of the school data company, Sig+, and he’s written this very handy article to help Multi Academy Trusts make sense of their data.  

What are the benefits and risks of data collection in MATs?

Due to the nature of MATs, there’s a wide range of expertise that can be utilised to develop effective, common approaches to assessment. Decision makers are more well informed, so they can direct resources to where they’re most needed, and large numbers of pupils mean more reliable, meaningful data. The risk of data collection, though, is that it might lead to a top down, accountability-focused system of assessment that increases workload but doesn’t have much of an impact on learning. So, how can we make sense of all this data, and put it to good use? Continue reading →

7 things you need to know about standardised scores and scaled scores

Scaled scores and standardised scores – what’s the difference?

By Cerys Hadwin-Owen, Assessment Publisher

WCerys Hadwin-Owenith so many different assessment measures being used throughout primary schools, we’re often asked to clarify the difference between them. So we’ve gone back to the drawing board to provide some quick facts about two key test outcomes: scaled scores and standardised scores (because while both show performance, they aren’t quite the same thing).

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Assessment: a key character in the story of learning

Thanks to Sebastian Rowland, Head of Year 6 at Etonbury Academy

Assessment. Love it or loathe it, it is a key character in the story of learning. As we plan, mark and assess in an ongoing cyclical process it is important to check that each assessment continues to have a purpose. In this article, I have outlined how we ensure our assessments have a clear purpose in improving teaching and learning in our school.

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Using standardised testing to support teacher understanding – a MAT approach

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.

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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).

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The benefits of standardised tests

With many thanks to James Pembroke, founder of independent school data consultancy Sig+, for sharing his take on the benefits of standardised tests.

There are a wide spectrum of tests carried out in schools from the regular, mini tests that teachers use as part of their day-to-day practice to check pupils’ understanding, to the statutory end of key stage assessments that we can’t avoid. In between those sit the optional, externally set, standardised tests from third party providers, and it’s those that we are focused on here.

Some schools are opposed to introducing any form of standardised tests fearing that they may deter pupils as well as undermine the value of teacher assessment; others use them sporadically, perhaps not making full use of the data they provide; and then there are those schools that use them every term for all year groups as the main tool for monitoring standards. Clearly there are diametrically opposed viewpoints when it comes to standardised tests with some teachers seeing them as invasive and unnecessary whilst others consider them to be a highly effective tool.

Crucially we want assessment to provide us with useful information that can be acted upon so before implementing any new form of test we need to ask ourselves one vital question: will it tell us anything we don’t already know? With any well designed standardised test, the answer is almost certainly yes – the pros outweigh the cons – and I’ve outlined the numerous benefits below. Continue reading →

Standards and Testing Agency video resources

We recently shared the key takeaways from the November 2016 Standards and Testing Agency webinars on primary assessment. The STA have now released videos of these webinars, along with other informative videos on themes such as ‘Understanding Scaled Scores’. You can watch these in their media and training area here.

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