At Audley Primary School we view assessment as a very important tool for benchmarking the starting point of a child’s education and to track progress and attainment.
Until recently, children’s progress was assessed using national curriculum levels. The government has now removed ‘level descriptors’ from the National Curriculum and schools are expected to establish their own assessment systems to suit their children and parents.
Why the Change?
The Department for Education felt levels were too vague and complicated for parents and not very good at helping them understand their child’s progress. There were also concerns that the levels system could contribute to children developing a “fixed mindset” about their ability and potential for growth. Until September 2014, grades were used in school to grade pupils from ages 5 to 14. At the age of 11, when children left primary school, they were expected to have achieved at least a Level 4 in English, maths and science.
How are children awarded a grade in the no-levels system?
Audley Primary School have followed government guidelines and advice and we now use statements that describe pupils’ progress. These statements provide parents and teachers with information on how they achieve for their age. These include the following criteria:
- Emerging = Working below the expected level of attainment
- Secure = Working at the expected level of attainment for his/her age
- Exceeding = Working above the expected level of attainment
SATs results explained
From summer 2016, there will be more challenging SATs tests to reflect the new curriculum at the end of the Key Stages. Children will now receive a scaled score instead of a level. Their raw score – the actual number of marks they accrue – will be translated into a scaled score; this helps to allow for differences in the difficulty of the tests from year to year so that pupils’ results can be compared accurately. You will be told your child’s raw score, scaled score and whether they have reached the national standard for that subject. The score that equates to the national standard has yet to be announced.
Children will also be matched against ‘performance descriptors’ (in other words what pupils are expected to know and be able to do at the time of testing) when being assessed by their teachers in non-SATs subjects at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2 to see if they’ve achieved the expected standard.
When will children be assessed?
Alongside continuous teacher assessments, there will still be national assessments at regular intervals:
- Children will undergo a baseline test in Reception.
- The Phonics Screening Check in Year 1
- The end of Key Stage test in Year 2 (KS1 SATs)
- The end of Key Stage test in Year 6 (KS2 SATs)
What are the expected grades for the end of each year?
Under the changes, from 2016 the government expects 85% of pupils to reach a ‘good level of attainment’ in updated Key Stage 2 SATs.
With levels abolished and the introduction of ‘performance descriptors’, there will be a lot less emphasis on expected grades for each year group, but rather a focus on whether a child has acquired the expected knowledge or not. The government will set the precise extent of progress required in each year group once the new Key Stage 2 tests have been set for the first time in May 2016.
Click here to see some sample test materials for the new Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 tests in 2016: SAMPLE TEST MATERIALS
What about children who are above or below the expected level?
Of course, there will still be children who will not meet the expected standard and they will continue to be teacher assessed using P-scales (a way of measuring the progress of children who are working below the national curriculum levels). By assessing children more formally at Reception level (with the new Reception baseline assessment test), the government hopes the children requiring more teacher input will be identified earlier.
In the past, the brightest Year 6 children could be entered for Level 6 SATs papers for English and Maths. These tests will no longer be offered; instead, all children will take the same tests, but the papers will include a number of more difficult questions that are intended to stretch higher achieving children.
Written Feedback and Marking
One of the most valuable ways in which we assess children is through the marking of their work. Our approach to marking is formative, regular and consistent and celebrates what children have achieved as well as showing them how they can develop further in their learning.
Click here for a copy of the Assessment Without Levels presentation: REVISED Assessment Without Levels Presentation to Parents November 2015