The key to any assessment practice is to have a clear and consistent assessment policy across the school. We all have our own assessment policies which we can find in the bottom of a drawer or print off as soon as we’re asked to, but do we know exactly what our assessment policy means and crucially do our teachers know if asked? If we don’t have consistent assessment taking place across the school then any assessment system is set to fail because it won’t be able to present accurate, meaningful assessment from teacher to teacher and pupil to pupil.
“Before considering any commercially available assessment tool, schools should make sure their policies on assessment have been confirmed. Any product should be evaluated in terms of how well it supports delivery of that policy. Without a robust policy, it will not be possible to determine the suitability of any assessment product, and it will be easy to become distracted by superficially attractive features which might turn out to be unnecessary or inappropriate.”
Final Report of the Commission on Assessment without Levels, September 2015
Many assessment policies are starting to rely on increasing the number of descriptors so that additional progress appears to have been made throughout the academic year. Not only is this returning to the levels style of assessment, but do your teachers really know the exact difference between your assessment points? For example, what is the difference between meeting expected, meeting expected plus and above expected lower? Or what skills are required to differentiate between descriptors 4 and 5 on a 9 point scale? If you or your colleagues are unsure about this then who is your assessment policy written for? Is it for your pupils or your reporting?
Assessment through Learning Ladders is designed to be simple and to keep the focus on your pupils and teachers in order to support progress within the classroom. We don’t have a 9 point assessment scale and we have open discussions with our schools regarding how they want to assess so that we can make it as easy to understand and time efficient as possible. We have produced a template assessment policy if Learning Ladders schools would like to use it in order to aid the consistency of assessment across the school. If you and your colleagues are all confident on how, when and why to assess then pupil progress will speak for itself.
"Pupils are much more aware of what they are working towards. Lessons are far more tailored to the needs of individual pupils. It has even been fed back from one of our teachers that the new assessment system has revolutionised their teaching!"
Trish Watt, Deputy Headteacher, Hyde Park School
Matt is the CEO of Learning Ladders and a former school teacher.