Published on: 31 Mar 2017

Schools will need to consider again how they will measure progress effectively from reception to Year 6

This Week: A week of announcements

As is often the way in the run up to the holidays, we have seen a flurry of Government announcements this week. More unusually perhaps, a high proportion (of the education announcements at least) relate to assessment. 

Last weekend, the DfE’s chief analyst estimated that just two pupils in England are likely to get all top grades in the new GCSEs. On Wednesday, the DfE introduced a two-tier GCSE pass rate, and then yesterday, the Government launched two primary assessment consultations

The primary assessment consultation seems to have been broadly welcomed – so far, at least. The DfE certainly used it to spell out their priorities; to ensure all statutory assessments are robust, to maintain national standards, and to limit the burdens on teachers and children. These are things that I think most of us would agree with.

Primary assessment has certainly seen a lot of change over the last few years, particularly since the removal of levels, which necessitated a closer look at how schools manage their day-to-day approach to assessment. Whatever the outcome of the consultation, the same will need to happen again, and that is especially true if the accountability system starts at reception and key stage 1 assessments are no longer statutory.

Schools will need to consider again how they will measure progress effectively from reception to Year 6. When we get to that stage, our position remains the same as when levels were removed:

  1. Take a step back and decide what information you really need to help you understand how much progress is being made. Do formal assessment periodically as a cross-check on informal observation, such as through homework marking, and then leave long enough gaps between assessments to make progress meaningful. 
  1. Follow the mantra ‘assess less, but use the data more’ – you can then combine data from internal and external assessments over time to get the best overall view of a pupil.
  1. Be clear about what you need to assess, for what purpose and how often.Through effective planning, the impact on workload should be manageable and mean that you have an assessment model focused on its true purpose; to help pupils learn by identifying their strengths and weaknesses, tracking their progress and uncovering barriers.

By Shane Rae, Head of Publishing, GL Assessment

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