Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Assessing without levels: part 1

From time to time over the holidays I have been thinking about the problem of assessing without levels. I refer to it as a problem, because it is a change that I know will ultimately be for the better, but it is going to be costly in terms of time. Blood, sweat and tears spring to mind - and to be honest the systems I have seen that look like rearranged versions of APP, of which I have never been a fan, are beginning to bring out my ranty side. Why can't anything ever be simple?

I know that what I need to do is dedicate time and find the right space to having a big think, scribble some notes on paper (I have some very sparse notes so far) and then think some more. During my first ponderings I remembered about an assessment for learning website I cobbled together when I was an AST. It was a good way of sharing practice as well as a place for storing my files. It's a bit dated, but the principles remain the same.

Before I dedicate time to my big think, I want to make sure I'm fully informed of what is currently going on in the world. I am assessment co-ordinator at East Harling, but as with everything else at our school it's not a role that I carry out alone. Next Wednesday I have time with my HT to chew over ideas and what it could look like. I'm not one for re-inventing wheels and simple is good. We have recently formed the Acorn Co-operative Learning Alliance with other local schools and, as my HT suggested, it makes sense to work together on this. The only potential problem is that we should be assessing against our curriculum, and we have devised a curriculum that feels very personal to our school (beyond the statutory curriculum). Do we assess the additional knowledge and skills that we feel are important, or stick with the key objectives in the new curriculum?

I believe that the best way to preserve teacher time and make it meaningful is to involve the children wherever and whenever possible; the freedom in the new curriculum should technically give us time to dedicate to self assessment in a purposeful (as opposed to ad hoc) manner. In reality, we run out of time quickly in primary as there are always other demands on our time and recommendations that we spend additional time on this, that and the other. That said, I have always spent time on self assessment and have become much better at allocating marking response time.

The following documents have / will inform my thinking. As always I would be grateful if you have any more that you could add to the list.

Assessing without levels: preliminary reading list (in no particular order)

What others are doing http://assessmentwithoutlevels.com/

Classroom monitor: Assessing without levels   Case studies 

Leading curriculum development I include this as it reminds us what makes an outstanding curriculum - a key part of that assessment cycle!

Sue Hackman- assessment and accountability (thanks @10kmk42 for pointing it out)

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