The use of National Curriculum levels to measure pupils’ achievement and attainment was brought to an end, as of September 2014. The school adopted and introduced the new national curriculum at this time. This was a new way of thinking for our school, and assessment looks very different now to how it has done for the past 20 years.
Assessing Without Levels
With the removal of National Curriculum levels, schools have had the freedom to establish their own way of assessing pupils. Many dedicated hours were put into developing our system which is now embedded across the school, providing accurate information in order for children’s knowledge and skills to be developed further. The system has been developed to compliment that of the Early Years Foundation Stage so that a consistent approach to assessing pupils understanding is now in place from Nursery to Year 6. We are working from specific year group outcomes based on the broad curriculum content of the school. The assessment system is complimented by the implementation of an assessment taxonomy as a whole school approach to assessment.
Ackworth Howard Assessment Taxonomy
To ensure all of our children are sufficiently challenged we have adopted an assessment taxonomy as a way for teachers and children to recognise learning tasks that develop deeper thinking. This enables our children to develop excellent conceptual understanding that they can apply in different situations.
The taxonomy is used throughout our school to help children extend their learning and enhance thinking skills that extend children beyond their current experiences. The children learn to understand and use this language and this sets them on a path for lifelong skills in learning.
The taxonomy is divided into a number of levels of learning and is the main tool for formative assessment:
•Beginning - where a child can express one relevant idea.
•Developing - where a child can express a number of relevant ideas e.g. defines, describes.
•Achieved - where a child makes connections and links between these ideas e.g. compares & contrasts, analyses.
•Greater Depth - where a child thinks beyond the subject or takes the learning into a new context e.g. generalises, hypothesises.
Our approach to assessment
Assessment is integral to high quality teaching and learning. It helps us to ensure that our teaching is appropriate and that learners are making at least expected progress. All staff are regularly trained in our approach to assessment.
Our method of assessment
Assessment serves many purposes, but the main purpose of assessment in our school is to help teachers, parents and pupils plan their next steps in learning. We also use the outcomes of assessment to check and support our teaching standards and help us improve. We assess pupils against assessment criteria, which are short, discrete, qualitative and concrete descriptions of what a pupil is expected to know and be able to do. Assessment criteria are derived from the school curriculum, which is composed of the National Curriculum and our own Curriculum Drivers. Assessment criteria for periodic assessment are arranged into a hierarchy, setting out what children are normally expected to have mastered by the end of each year. The achievement of each pupil is assessed against all the relevant criteria at appropriate times of the school year. Each pupil is assessed as either ‘emerging’, ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’. Where a pupil is assessed as expected in the relevant criteria in a subject for that year provision will be made to deepen their understanding so that they have excellent conceptual knowledge that they can apply in many different scenarios. Assessment judgements are recorded and backed by a body of evidence created using observations, records of work and testing. Assessment judgements are moderated by colleagues in school and by colleagues in other schools, the local authority and across local networks to make sure our assessments are fair, reliable and valid.
Our use of assessment
Teachers use the outcomes of our assessments to summarise and analyse attainment and progress for their pupils and classes. Teachers use this data to plan the learning for every pupil to provide every opportunity for them to meet or exceed expectations. Teachers and leaders analyse the data across the school to ensure that pupils identified as vulnerable or at particular risk in this school are making appropriate progress and that all pupils are suitably stretched. The information from assessment is communicated to parents and pupils on a regular basis through meetings with parents and pupils. Parents and pupils receive rich, qualitative profiles of what has been achieved and indications of what they need to do next. We celebrate all achievements across a broad and balanced curriculum, including sport, art and performance, behaviour, and social and emotional development.
Discussions with Parents / Carers
The biggest difference is how we will talk to you about how your child is progressing during the year.
So how will the process in school work?
In the autumn term, in preparation for the first parents meetings, the teachers will have had an opportunity to develop an understanding of how the children are working. At the start of each year group, the majority of children will be emerging as they are being judged against the end of year statements. By using their professional knowledge and judgement and the evidence in children’s work, teachers will know what the children can already do and what they think the children can achieve. Targets will be set to ensure high expectations.
During the year, you will be told whether your child is on track to meet their end of year target. Discussions will be based around the work children have completed and the assessment information within books. This will ensure that discussions focus exactly on what knowledge and skills your child has and what they need to develop.
Statutory Assessment and Accountability
In line with government requirements, we will undertake statutory assessments. These include:
1. Teacher assessment at the end of KS1 informed by externally-set but internally-marked tests
2. National tests at the end of KS2 in mathematics, reading, GPS, and a teacher assessment of mathematics, reading, writing and science.
3. A phonics check at the end of Year 1.