19 Jul 2015

Seven things I hope are in the Assessment without Levels Commission report

Always a bit of risk trying to second-guess. Let alone the report from Commission on Assessment Without Levels which has got stuck in the DfE. Anyway, this is what I hope has been covered in the report.

  • That assessment is framed around the big principles – the aims and purpose of each subject of the curriculum. That it focuses on fewer things in greater depth. Watch Tim Oates where he emphasises the importance of fewer things in greater depth three times. Tim Oates
  • That the assessment is primarily for identifying what students know and more importantly what they don’t know. So that it can be retaught. That tracking systems serve the purpose of identifying those children who are working at age related expectations. And those who are in danger of falling behind. Plus those who are secure and need more depth, breadth and complexity. William Emery has written a very helpful post about this.
  • That there’s guidance about what does not need to be tracked. How would it be if a school’s feedback and marking policy started by saying ‘This school does not expect every piece of work to be marked.’ This would mean that they would be absolutely clear about what would be marked and given feedback. We can’t track everything. This is not possible, sensible or productive. So why would you?
  • That there’s clarity about what progress means in the new curriculum. There’s no longer a race through levels, so schools need guidance on showing how secure students are in their understanding. There’s a new understanding of what true progress looks like – see the Swiss Cottage examples. These provide very clear examples of how we need to think differently about progress. Follow the link to compare Learner A with Learner B.
  • That they refer to range of models to show how secure students are – building on the Beyond Levels guidance.
  • That it is made clear that any tracking system must serve the school, not the other way round. So we no longer hear head teachers saying that their teachers have to teach in a way that fits what their commercial data packages have set up. Bonkers. Who are the clients here? Tracking system companies need to align with the new principles. Too many are using levels disguised as pseudo assessment without levels. See Jamie Pembroke's posts for more on this.
  • That they refer to some of the excellent practice where schools are focusing on terrific teaching. A few examples: Katie Ashford at Michaela; children talking about their progress at the Wroxham school; Daisy Christodoulou on assessment alternatives here and here, Shaun Allison at Durrington School describing his school's experience navigating the beyond levels terrain.
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