Most schools use formative assessment throughout the year, and then have some sort of test at the end as practice for SATs. This data-handling may be done via a commercial system, a tracking system they have created in-house, or through one of the paper-based approaches that many schools are still using. It doesn’t matter which method you choose, but it does matter how the data is being used.
Proposing the idea that more testing may be the answer to improving pupil outcomes would undoubtedly result in heads in the staffroom turning in absurdity - or the cause of a full riot on social media. It is the belief of many that pupils are being over-assessed already, so why introduce more? It is felt that too much assessment is affecting the mental health of children, or squeezing the joy out of learning, and may be a direct cause of underachievement. Therefore, to introduce more would be outlandish. Each concern is valid - especially in the case of high-stakes testing - however, we should not discount the role that low-stakes testing may have in enhancing pupil learning.
The infamous saying “tax shouldn’t be taxing” is something that I feel rings true for its synonym, to assess. Assessment is a key element of teaching and learning, both in its summative and formative forms, and enables for a review of progress. Assessment is most valuable when it translates into effective feedback which supports bespoke, personalised future-learning, both empowering students to take ownership for development and equipping teachers with the ability to facilitate this. However, with full teaching timetables, a growth in the amount of assessments set within schools, and the melting pot of other duties, it has become even more pertinent to find ways to make assessment and feedback not only effective, but also efficient.
With 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 the same thing).
We all know that the purpose of formative assessment is to make students aware of the standard of work they are producing, and more importantly, to help them understand how they can improve. Too often, however, assessment becomes just another formality, so entrenched in the system that we forget to stop and think about both its effectiveness and the learner experience. Sometimes, feedback simply does not translate into improvements, and it can be frustrating for everyone involved. How do we resolve this? The answer lies in allowing the student to become an active participant in the process, through anonymously comparing and critiquing an entire cohort of work online.
Over recent years there have been some fundamental changes to the education system in England: a new National Curriculum, the removal of levels in national curriculum assessments and revisions to general qualifications. New, more demanding tests were introduced for Key Stage 1 and 2 in 2016. At GCSE level, revised examinations in English and Mathematics were introduced during that year, with all other subjects coming on-stream over the next couple of years. The more demanding standards, the revised grading system and what constitutes an acceptable ‘pass’ will continue to challenge society over the next couple of years.
The value of a school management information system (MIS) isn’t simply for the safe storage of data. Its true value is in the speed at which the data can be accessed and then used to inform decisions - from an individual student, right through to whole-school level. Assessment for learning is perhaps the best example of this.
This is my favourite question from friend, FELTAG collaborator and member of the Ministerial Education Technology Action Group (ETAG), Professor Diana Laurillard from UCL. It is always a useful starting point for any conversation or decision about the use of technology for teaching, learning or assessment.
I am a huge advocate for the use of educational technology (edtech) in the classroom. My view is that the classroom benefits of edtech obvious, whether it is gauging understanding with Assessment for Learning apps, using the settings on an iPad to help learning with additional requirements, or using apps that promote understanding.
For children with special educational needs (SEN), one of the toughest barriers to accessing the curriculum can simply be how intimidating the classroom can feel. With 70 per cent of those permanently excluded from school also being registered for with SEN, we need to do more to engage students to maintain their attendance and ensure that functional skills are developed among all students, no matter what their situation or environment.
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