In Part one I gave a broad outline of our proposals on assessment. I hope that they will put assessment in the hands of the subject professionals in our school, enabling them to truly assess pupils’ knowledge so that they can teach as effectively as possible, and ensuring that development of the curriculum and assessment are intertwined.
This is tempered somewhat by competing pressures of ensuring that we regularly report to parents, and that we ensure that we as leaders know whether pupils in the school are making progress in each subject.
The most important developmental work we are doing in our school this year is specifying the knowledge that pupils should gain in each subject, and establishing the best sequence in which they might do so. Assessing that in order to ensure pupils are learning is very important, and ensuring parents are aware is equally important.
This blog is an attempt to represent our Head of History Matt Stanford’s presentation to our staff, which I’ve since repeated to governors, on how we might report to parents and use our reporting system to support our development of world-class provision.
A question for you: is this pupil doing OK?
Most professionals will correctly say “we don’t have enough information”.
What lies behind the orange C that Miss Underwood has awarded for History? Well there is a simple grade descriptor, that relates to the curriculum:
That simple grade descriptor is not simplistic though – so here is Matt’s first efforts (that I endorse – I’m not passing on responsibility) at explaining some of the terms used:
To use these descriptors, teachers are asked to use the mark book (designed with their subject and curriculum in mind), but also, crucially, their professional judgement. We can’t emphasise this last point enough:
Behind the mark book, according to colleagues subjects’ will lie task specific mark schemes like the one below, and crucially, their professional judgement:
Behind those task specific mark schemes will lie the nature of the subject, the professional literature in the subject, the teacher’s expertise in the subject, probably the national curriculum and probably the requirements of Key Stage 4 courses and beyond, and crucially, the teacher’s professional judgement.
We will expect teachers to be able to justify the grades awarded to each pupil. The evidence that teachers use to make these justifications depends on what enables them to do so best, but will largely be drawn from what is written above.
So is the pupil in the made up example above doing OK? Well in History, maybe. But what about the orange?
Well the colour code is the pupils’ attitude to learning (we might just make it a separate word or number, but at the moment it’s a colour code). Behind the colour code is the data the school has – for example were they a C last time, and the time before? Is their attendance to History any good? Do they hand in homework? How are they doing compared to their reading age or Key Stage 2 SATs fine score? And crucially, the teacher’s professional judgement. It might look like this:
And they represent these criteria:
The bottom two of these should act as a flag or a warning signal.
The flag will signal the start of a professional conversation. It will never be used to grade the teacher. As soon as these become high-stakes, they lack any semblance of reliability and validity.
So is the pupil doing OK?
Yes. But (for example) his HoY had a useful and friendly conversation with his History, English and PE teachers.
Miss Understood is going to move him to the front and Miss Pelt is going to think about how she can plan the next unit in a way that provides more access for that class.
Mr Ball is going to send him to county rugby trials:
This is our proposal for reporting on our curriculum to our parents. We have been careful to attempt to separate assessment of work from assessment of students, and to not confuse assessment with reporting.
It does depend on very robust quality assurance processes throughout the school, but I do not want to get them mixed up with assessment, thereby engendering some lack of validity or reliability.
There’s plenty more to do to make this better and make it work – please do feedback.
Full presentation here if there’s anything you couldn’t read:
Also: if this kind of development – of development of a great curriculum, of valid and reliable assessment for our school rather than for inspection or for SLT – is for you please have a look at the vacancies on our website.