I’m not normally one for openly personal posts. Although my wife will happily say that much of my reason for blogging is either ego or arrogance, I usually try to keep to pragmatic matters. But this week I’m troubled. And I’m troubled on behalf of others, too.
I’ve made no secret of my loathing of the current Interim Assessment framework and its expectations (both narrow and high), or its tardiness, or error. But as our LA moderation lead said to us last week: whether we like it or not, for this year we’re stuck with it.
And ‘stuck’ is exactly how it feels. I’ve said at a few events held since the framework first came out that the Writing descriptors are literally what keeps me up at night .And with barely a fortnight until the Teacher Assessment deadline, and only a week until our external moderation, that remains the case.
As I look at the collections of work from my class – work of which I am in many cases very proud, and work which demonstrates great progress – I worry about the final figures I’m going to submit. I worry because they reflect on me, my team and my school, and I just don’t know where the land lies.
I worry, too, because everywhere I look I see people doing their best to push children over the hurdles. Not teaching, just ticking off the boxes. It means I’ve heard, from all directions, of the strategies people are using to provide evidence for skills that their children almost certainly don’t have. It means I’ve heard of pupils re-drafting work five times until it ticks the right boxes. It means I’ve heard of directed teaching and overly-structured work that will allow teachers to show the evidence that they think will give children the credit they deserve for their learning. And I know how much additional work I’ve put in – and my class have – in these last few weeks to try to tick those boxes myself.
But as the judgement day looms, I want those figures to be higher. I worry that my refusal to stretch the rules to breaking point may disadvantage my school, and may well reflect badly on me.
And what really worries me about that is that I’m a confident teacher. I know where I have made choices that are for principled reasons. I know that my headteacher isn’t some unscrupulous bully who will demand results with menaces. I know that I have taught my class well this year, and I know what progress looks like, and could happily show it to anyone. Indeed, just 6 weeks ago, Ofsted came in and agreed with it.
But what of the newly-qualified teacher in Year 6? What of the teacher in a school where the headteacher has no qualms about bullying staff to get the results? What of the teacher who knows that one year of bad data could be them out of a job? What of the teacher already struggling with something outside of school having to work this out?
If I’m having sleepless nights, how must it be for them?
There are those who would happily see the back of SATs tests, who argue that teacher assessment is the way forward. Personally, I think it’s the stakes that matter. And just about the only thing worse for a teacher than a high-stakes test, is high-stakes Teacher Assessment.
It’s like being taken to the hangman’s noose… and then being asked to make your own gallows.
Before you worry too much about me, rest assured that on proof-reading this, my wife said “I don’t think you’re arrogant…. all the time.” Praise indeed.
Tagged: teacher assessment