Assessment without national curriculum levels

In 2013, the Secretary of state for Education announced that the national framework of levels that had been used to assess key stages 1 -3 was to be removed. Schools were given the freedom to develop their own approaches to assessing students.

At Temple Moor, we have seized this opportunity to develop an innovative new approach to assessment, founded on the following principles:

* Assessment should primarily be used formatively, to inform teachers, students and parents about what a student can and cannot do, and to feed into future planning to address aspects of difficulty.
* Assessment should also play a summative role, informing teachers, parents, students, Governors and external agencies where students are currently working.
* Assessment gradings should be understandable and benchmarked against national performance.
* Assessment should be transparent.
* Assessment should be inclusive of all abilities.

We have therefore chosen to benchmark all of our assessments against the new GCSE grading criteria as it is the only nationally recognised benchmark.  As a result, all students in the current Years 7 and 8 will be awarded grades on a 9-1 scale.

However, where Temple Moor’s approach differs is that we have developed a system which seeks to separate attainment grading from progress. To achieve this, we have utilised the GCSE specification criteria for each subject to develop statement banks for each grade 9-1, detailing what a student should be able to do in Year 11 to achieve each grade. We have then produced worked back statements for each year group in school, detailing what a student who is on course to achieve a grade 9 – 1 will be able to do in each year group.

As a result, a student’s grading might not change during their time at Temple Moor, but the challenge underpinning that grade becomes successive more demanding each year.  As a result, the progress a student makes is in the challenge underpinning the grade, rather than the grade itself. Providing students are working broadly in line with their target grade throughout their school lives, they are making good progress.

This is illustrated below for Grade 9.

Graph 1

As a result, students will be targeted flight zones which will ensure progress across their five years up to GCSE.

graph 2

Staff will use the yearly statement banks to judge what students demonstrate they can and cannot do during assessments. For a statement to be deemed as met, students will have to demonstrate mastery of that skill consistently across different topics and assessments.

This system will initially be launched with Y7 and Y8 in 2015-16, and will then roll through up to Year 11 over the course of the next 3 years. Current Y9-11 students will continue to be assessed as they have been historically.

We feel that this approach has the following benefits over the old National curriculum levels:

* The assessment approach is harmonised over the five years.
* It will be more easily understood by parents and students, as it will be clear which statements have been achieved and which require further development.
* It will feed into teacher’s planning to tackle areas of difficulty, so that students can make accelerated progress and are fully prepared for all aspects of GCSE assessment.
* Students falling below their targeted flight zones will be easily identified so that we can support them further.
* Parents will be able to use statements which require further development as a cue to provide further support at home.
* Common skills across subjects e.g. graph drawing, can be linked across different subjects and across different years. This ensures a more detailed record of students’ attributes lives with them up the school and is used as a basis for planning.
* Ultimately, we hope to make future reports far more detailed and informative.

To support this new approach, Temple Moor has entered into a partnership arrangement with a national assessment software developer called B-squared over the past 18 months. (www.bsquared.co.uk)

Between us, we have used our subject assessment expertise to complement their assessment software in order to develop an innovative and holistic approach to assessment at secondary level. This approach has already been viewed by a number of other secondary schools, who are looking to adopt it.

The software is at the stage of being used within school but there is plenty of future development still to occur which will further enhance its capabilities. In the future, we hope to develop the ability to upload examples of work and evidence for a student, and to provide you with secure log-in details to see a live assessment picture on your son/daughter and view the uploaded work. We will also be looking to use this as a tool for generating much more information rich reports at key reporting points during the year.

An example of what a future report might look like, once the software development is completed, is shown below:

graph 3

Please keep referring to the school website (www.tmhs.co.uk) where we will publish further updates in the future to keep you informed.