Secret Teacher: the obsession with league tables cheats our children. Since September our school has been doing everything possible to game the system.
We hand out A and B grades for coursework that would have once been worth C or D grades. Our GCSE students have had their option subjects taken away from them to concentrate solely on English, maths and science. After 3 weeks of working on it here and there since the beginning of term, the Interactive Plenary Board is finally complete.
I’m really pleased with the results plus the kids are enjoying it so far. It built up slowly, going from this… to this… School Data Updates: The 5 Golden Rules of tracking. As increasing numbers of schools question the effectiveness of their incumbent systems and begin to look at alternatives that may better meet the needs of their curriculum and approach to assessment, it's worth bearing in mind a few golden rules.
Hopefully these will provide a suitable fit-for-purpose test and save schools from repeating the mistakes of the past. 1) Separate teacher assessment from performance management Not so much an issue with systems themselves but a mistake that many schools made: using tracking data to set performance management targets. These would commonly take the form of an annual rate of progress that all pupils were expected to make, or a particular threshold that a certain percentage were expected to be above. Tracking progress001. Bird on the Steeple: Big Rant about Big Writing. This article has been updated since I wrote it after Ros Wilson contacted me via Twitter, I am editing the post to incorporate her comments and will state again that these are my personal views.
The green text indicates changes I have made. The grounded opinions I express are simply that. The other night I was being childish about Big Writing and its creator, Ros Wilson, on twitter. Here’s what I really think. If you’ve never heard of Big Writing please at least read down to the weblinks so you know. And if you’re not a Primary School teacher you probably never have heard of Big Writing, which is a worry really, given that thousands of primary schools use it as a means to teach English. Many schools state that it is improving writing. Comparative judgment: 21st century assessment. In my previous posts I have looked at some of the flaws in traditional teacher assessment and assessments of character.
This post is much more positive: it’s about an assessment innovation that really works. One of the good things about multiple-choice and short answer questions is that they offer very high levels of reliability. They have clear right and wrong answers; one marker will give you exactly the same mark as another; and you can cover large chunks of the syllabus in a short amount of time, reducing the chance that a high or low score is down to a student getting lucky or unlucky with the questions that came up.
One of the bad things about MCQs is that they often do not reflect the more realistic and real-world problems pupils might go on to encounter, such as essays and projects. The problem with real-world tasks, however, is that they are fiendishly hard to mark reliably: it is much less likely that two markers will always agree on the grades they award. The Data Conclusion Confusion. In March 2013 Tom Sherrington wrote what I think of as one of his most iconic blogs, The Data Delusion.
He concluded, “On average it is a bit more complicated than that.” Having just re-read Dylan Wiliam’s (2014) Principled Assessment Design here’s my own take on a similar theme. Dylan Wiliam.
AfL including marking and feedback. Assessment Journeys. A fascinating year: life after levels There was a lot of debate both online and in ‘face to face’ life during the summer term 2014 about the removal of National Curriculum levels.
Schools seemed to be deciding either to buy into a new tracking system or to remain with levels for one more year to wait and see what happened. At this time I took Michael Tidd’s (@MichaelT1979) Key Objectives ( and created a very basic Excel spreadsheet (although Michael made it look far more professional). Sut03.pdf. Peer and self assessment gov guidance. Pupil self-assessment: strategies — The Key. Decimal System for Writing - PrimaryTools.co.uk. Overview The Primary Tools Decimal Assessment System has been designed first and foremost with children’s needs at heart.
It is a complete assessment system for writing, reading and mathematics from year 1 to year 6 that includes Assessment Sheets, Target Bookmarks and a powerful Tracking System. Some of the criteria are taken from the appendices for the National Curriculum introduced in 2014 and the Draft Performance Descriptors released in Autumn 2014. However, most of the criteria have been taken directly from the main National Curriculum for Writing. Yr3_Decimal_System_CF_Bookmarks_v2.3_PrimaryTools.co.pdf.
Not As We Know It Limited: Assessment and Curricular Targets Resources. 0110-sample-Curricular-Target-Sheets.pdf. Year%203%20Subject%20Planner%20for%20year.pdf. Year%203%20Reading%20Targets.pdf. Year%203%20WritingTargets.pdf. RS8-Principled-assessment-design-chapter-one. Just say no to junk data: Assessment at Michaela. I was reading @hfletcherwood‘s blogpost describing his dream assessment system: 1) Abolish whole-school data reporting on anything less than an annual basis.Whether from teachers to school leaders, from school to parent, you name it, get rid of it.
It is only on an annual basis that we can conduct assessments thorough enough to provide valid inferences about students’ overall understanding of a subject, and where we can pursue reliably through moderation. (If you doubt the former point, ask language teachers trying to mark assessments of speaking, reading, writing and listening on a termly basis). 'We need baseline tests. The problems of accountability won’t be solved by avoiding assessment' Robert Coe, professor in the school of education and director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), Durham University, writes:
The nonsense of the grade descriptors. This week I have finalised our new Assessment, Marking and Feedback policy and submitted the draft to the Governors for review. This policy was a complete rewrite, incorporating and committing to our latest thinking on assessment without levels and closing the gap marking and feedback. Preparing_for_a_Renaissance_in_assessment. Planning assessment without levels. Let me be clear. I was a huge fan of the system of 10 (later eight) levels that Paul Black’s Task Group on Assessment and Testing recommended to Kenneth Baker (then Secretary of State for Education) in December 1987, not least because it was based on the work that Margaret Brown and I had done on levels of achievement in graded assessment schemes, and Carol Dweck’s early work on mindset.
I actually did my PhD on national curriculum levels. Questioning and Feedback: Top Ten Strategies. At our Training session in October we collated all your great ideas and we have devised the following Top Ten Strategies: 1. Differentiated questioning. Given the time we take doing it daily, effective questioning may well be the highest impact strategy we can employ. There is no ‘one size fits every class’ strategy. Whether it is ‘hands up’ or ‘no hands up’, it simply needs careful planning and differentiation. Dylan Wiliam Five Key Strategies. Random Picker. Daretodifferentiate - home. Tracking Grids for Key Objectives. After much discussion in the last week, particularly with experts in the data field, I have tried to adapt the Key Objective spreadsheets put together by Tim Clarke to allow: one document to contain all the tracking for a single class for the core subjectsa quick summary of the numbers/percentage of students meeting the expected standard So far I have put together documents for Years 1 to 6.
Each spreadsheet contains a page for each of Reading, Writing, Maths and Science, with the objectives listed. By entering the names along the top row, teachers can then enter 1, 2 or 3 against each objective to indicate that students are working towards / meeting / exceeding that specific objective. These cells automatically change colour for quick visual representation. In addition, at the foot of the page, a simple summary indicates whether students are working towards, meeting or exceeding the expected level for their age. Downloads Sample documents: Year 5 Tracking Document Year 6 Tracking Document. Primary Progression Documents for English & Maths. The nature of the new curriculum documentation is such that the primary section alone lasts for some 200 pages. It makes sense that it is organised in year group order for the core subjects, but it also makes it harder to visualise the progression of concepts and skills.
That’s particularly problematic if you’re trying to identify key thresholds for assessment or planning. Therefore, I have created these simple documents to support schools. They are not revolutionary, but simply present the objectives from the National Curriculum in a sequence of progression strands from Year 1 to Year 6 across Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Hopefully they might help schools in organising their curricula, and also in identifying progression across these very large subjects. As with all my materials, they are also available at www.primarycurriculum.me.uk/support, and I recommend looking at the other resources available there to support schools’ journeys in implementing the new curriculum.
Does it do what it’s supposed to? Assessing the assessment. In response to a request for constructive criticism of the English assessment model I helped design, Michael Tidd got in touch to query whether it met his 7 questions you should ask about any new ‘post-levels’ assessment scheme. For the record, these questions are: One step beyond – assessing what we value. Learning Ladders – Online Assessment and Target Tracking. Formative Assessment Strategies. RAISEonline is contemptible RUBBISH - Icing on the Cake - An education blog. Open questions. The #5MinAfLPlan by @TeacherToolkit and @PivotalPaul. Schools win funds to develop and share new ways of assessing pupils - Press releases.
A new package of pupil assessment methods, developed by teachers for teachers, was today (1 May 2014) unveiled by the government. The new methods, one of which will use in-class apps, will help schools easily and accurately chart pupils’ attainment and progress so they can provide effective, targeted support where it is needed, and will give parents clearer information about their child’s performance and progress. The 9 packages were chosen by an independent panel after the Department for Education launched a competition in December encouraging schools to develop and share innovative new assessment methods for other schools to use. Each of the 9 successful schools, which are in London, Hampshire, Yorkshire, Sussex, Devon and Oxfordshire, will now receive up to £10,000 of funding from the Department for Education to turn their model into free, easy-to-use packages for other schools to use.