The assessment landscape one year on

By Rachael Marshman

There is no doubt about it, 2015 has seen a year of unprecedented change where assessment is concerned. The academic year kicked off in 2014 with schools facing the unnerving challenge of moving away from assessing against the traditional system of levels, into the unknown.

Primary schools then faced the introduction of the new reception Baseline assessment, and although not technically statutory this year, the majority of schools opted in. This meant they have the flexibility of being measured on either attainment or progress at the end of Key Stage 1, rather than attainment only should they have chosen not to take part.

Growing in confidence

All challenges aside, during the year we have been supporting our schools and consulting with education professionals to help identify how SIMS Assessment can best support the changing needs of schools. A fundamental mindset change has been needed to shake off the ingrained levels system and we are now seeing schools embrace a more granular hands-on approach to formative assessment to support teaching and learning in the classroom without levels.

In my blog last month I highlighted the varying types of assessment that SIMS supports and I am delighted to say that the diverse and flexible nature of SIMS Assessment has been recognised in its nomination for a 2016 BETT award for ICT Tools for Teaching, Learning & Assessment.

child in classProgrammes of Study area

The new Programmes of Study area within SIMS Assessment gives teachers access to the entire National Curriculum Programmes of Study, including both the statutory and non-statutory guidance. Teachers can record formative assessments against any statement of the National Curriculum or provide summative judgements to indicate which phase of the curriculum pupils are working within.

Instant analysis is available on the data entry screen, so teachers always have sight of an individual’s progress towards end of year or school expectations. Quick access to this information means timely interventions can be introduced to support teaching, learning and the tracking of pupil progress.

What’s more, curriculum statements can be added or customised, as well as introducing new strand areas or subjects, such as RE, so schools can tailor the curriculum to suit their needs. Teach the curriculum however you choose and let SIMS provide the analysis based on your curriculum focus, tracking to support assessment best practice.

Supporting the transition from primary to secondary

Not only is SIMS Assessment providing the flexibility schools need but it also offers a common framework for schools to assess against. It also supports the mobility of pupils by giving schools the option to include formative assessments within the pupil Common Transfer File (CTF). As a result, if a pupil were to move to another primary school or onto secondary school, the information can go with them, highlighting what pupils know, and don’t yet know, in relation to the National Curriculum Programmes of Study. This helps schools to quickly identify gaps in knowledge and support future learning.

Resources for Key Stage 3 and 4

We have extended the Programme of Study into Key Stage 3, to encourage consistency and provide a national framework for assessing knowledge, skills and understanding against the curriculum being taught. We have also recently introduced new analysis resources for Key Stage 4 as a result of collaboration with the School Improvement Team. This provides analysis for 5A*-C, EBacc, Progress 8 and other performance measures. Schools can choose either to extend the Programme of Study into KS3 or bring down the GCSE grade system - SIMS Assessment is flexible enough to allow for both.

The challenges ahead

The next big challenge facing primary schools is the new style statutory reporting – look out for my next blog in the New Year for more on this.

In the meantime if you’ve already got SIMS Assessment and have not looked at how it's evolved over the past year, please take some time to review. There’s no additional charge so you can get started with these assessment resources straight away.

Want to learn more? Visit us at Bett 2016 and attend one of our assessment workshops for senior leaders, running 20-22nd January on stand B190.

Comments

Nigel Sheppard

Hi
I have been looking at the new PoS tracker and i can see it has great potential. In the blog you say: '....curriculum statements can be added or customised, as well as introducing new strand areas or subjects, such as RE, so schools can tailor the curriculum to suit their needs.'

That sounds great but I cannot see how to do this for secondary schools at present?

Could you please advise
Many thanks

Rachael Marshman

Hi Nigel,

The new customisation functionality is being introduced as part of the Spring upgrade. Subjects, strands and statements can be added from the new manage curriculum area, and in addition, statements can also be added from within the PoS screen as required.

Kind Regards,
Rachael

Product Manager

Nigel Sheppard

Many thanks Rachael - that's great. One final thing we would really like to see:

a 'weighted' % score equating to 'Mastered', 'Secure', 'Developing' and 'Emerging'. Currently M and S get the same % and D and E get 0. We don't 'feel' this is sensible and would like M, S, D and E for each strand weighted as follows (or similar):

M = 100% 'mastered/comprehended'
S = 80% 'secure/comprehended'
D = 40-60% comprehended
E = 0-40% comprehended

I would be interested in your views
Many thanks
Nigel

Rachael Marshman

Hi Nigel,

At the moment there are no automatic calculations to determine the overall strand judgement based on the % of statements achieved within the strand. It is something we have held off from doing as we believe this should be a teacher judgement based on the policy set in the school.

Regarding the % of expectations achieved, this calculation is to indicate when pupils have met the standard of achievement in school, which can be secure or mastered (depending on your assessment policy). We are however taking on board feedback and requirements to inform future developments and this request has been added to the discussion topic for our next consultation groups. Details of the ASCGs will be posted on My Account when future dates are confirmed.

Kind Regards,
Rachael

Product Manager

Nigel Sheppard

Hi Rachel

OK - thanks for this/encouraging.I think i might have got my terminology a little mixed up there..it is indeed the % of expectations achieved....we struggle with the notion that 'secure' can be the same as 'mastered'. In addition we 100% agree that it is a teacher judgement although the idea of % of expectations achieved signposts this judgement is helpful i think. Indeed, on that note I am thinking of loosely correlating the % of expectations achieved with the 9 - 1 gradings in the sense that for example: 20% of expectations achieved could loosely translate to a '2' using the new grading system. Similarly if they 'master' 75% of all expectations (when we have all of KS3 and KS4 expectations/skills/knowledge in place) then loosely we might sign post to a '7' or 7.5 etc. So I guess you can see why I would v much like a 'weighted' allocation to M, S, D and E. I suppose you are using 'if statements' of similar to set the current %?

Look forward to hearing from you again
Nigel

Rachael Marshman

Hi Nigel

Many thanks for your message. Would you be interested in joining a WebEx where I would be able to explain how the system works in practice?

If you could please send me your contact details so I can get in touch to: Rachael.marshman@capita.co.uk

Kind Regards,
Rachael

Product Manager

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