Apparently some people out there are not as avidly gripped when a new government document appears tucked away somewhere on the GOV.UK website. Indeed, some teachers might even deliberately avoid such things. And their blood pressure readings are probably all the better for it.
Nevertheless, there are some important nuggets of information hidden in among the irritation, and so while I of course recommend reading all the bumph in full, here are some key points that teachers might find useful.
(An article which was delightfully described by my other half as “Assessment for dummies”; I hope that no-one finds it as patronising as that might suggest!)
The Assessment Commission reported this week, giving its advice for how schools should manage assessment during day-to-day and term-to-term activity. I’ve highlighted some particular paragraphs of interest, but the gist of the report is that schools shouldn’t be assessing for Ofsted, and that they need to move their focus away from summative levelled, banded, graded assessments, and focus more thoroughly on what children can and can’t do.
Notably the report also has key information from Ofsted, stating that inspectors will not expect to see any particular form or regularity of data collection. Indeed, the report advises against anything more than termly data collection/analysis, and makes clear that inspectors will focus as much on books, observations and conversations as they will on any data that’s available. Of course, it remains to be seen how inspectors act on this in practice.
If your school has bought in one of the awful electronic systems that requires millions of tick-boxes, or expects children to make x points of progress each term/year, then I strongly recommend reading the full report – or better still passing it to your headteacher.
Key Stage Tests
We know now the broad structure of the tests, and their general content. We’ve seen some new tests added, and some changes, including:
- New Grammar & punctuation test at KS1
- Changes to how the reading test works at KS1
- New Written Arithmetic tests at KS1 and KS2
- No mental maths test at KS2
- No Level 3 / Level 6 “extension” papers
I’ve written in more detail about the changes in each Key Stage in my articles for the Rising Stars blog here:
- Changes to the National Tests and what you need to know – Key Stage 1
- Changes to the National Tests and what you need to know – Key Stage 2
The results of the tests will be as scaled scores, with children who reach the threshold score for the “expected standard” being given a scaled score of 100. There will be some indication of a ‘higher’ standard (presumably simply marking those children who reach a certain higher score). None of the thresholds will be known until after the first round of tests in 2016.
Samples of the test paper style and level of challenge are available from the DfE website.
The final part of the triad is the role of statutory Teacher Assessment. With levels gone, it has taken some considerable time for the department to come up with a suitable replacement, and even now it has only managed to cobble together a temporary solution for this year. (A cynic might wonder if they’ll just give up after that and stop bothering collecting teacher assessment data at all)
Two documents published this week set out the replacements for levels in the core subjects for teachers to use. They are expressly only for use at the end of Year 2 and Year 6. For each subject they set out a short list of bullet points, listing the criteria that children must meet to be judged as “working at the expected standard” (see the KS2 reading example, right). Note that these are threshold expectations, not ‘best fit’ criteria. It’s not clear that there’s been much joined up thinking with the test results, and the criteria are rather brief really. Expect “exemplification materials” later in the academic year – although who knows how close to the wire it’ll be before we actually see anything!
For KS1 Reading, Writing and Maths, and for Writing at KS2, there are also descriptors that set out a band of attainment for lower attainers called “working towards the expected standard”, and also for more confident pupils, entitled “Working at greater depth within the expected standard” (snappily captioned WagDuties by @hayleyearl). Mercifully the ‘mastery’ label has gone!
The documents are at least relatively brief reading at 10-11 pages each (although surprisingly Science has the longest descriptor) and can be found here:
Don’t learn it by heart though – it’ll all be redundant by this time next year, as we wait again for information.