/ Scott Biggs
The collection of data is extremely important to understand student performance within schools. It’s also essential to consider what data is to be collected, how it’s derived and how it will be used. The Commission on Assessment without Levels (AWL) illustrated the benefits of not labelling children with levels. In 2015, a report concluded that the ending of explicitly defining children by levels has provided impetus for pedagogical change, increasing pupil motivation and engagement, and making better use of formative assessment in the classroom.
The intention of removing levels was to reduce time spent by teachers recording and tracking progress towards numerical targets. This would subsequently release time for more in-depth teaching and formative assessment approaches that would support progress across the attainment spectrum.
Since schools were urged to remove levels from the assessment toolkit, the development of assessment models has varied across the country. Greater autonomy of assessment frameworks has increased the focus on standardised testing within schools. The Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR) focuses on statutory summative tests so naturally schools have a vested interest in these results.
When assessment autonomy was first introduced, the lack of support from central government created a situation whereby schools collected copious amounts of evidence and data, in order to prove to the government inspectors that a solid assessment system was in place and working well. Thankfully, the Department for Education was able to provide further guidance in 2016 to express best practice within ‘Eliminating unnecessary workload associated with data management’.
The current climate has seen a consolidation of assessment approaches in most schools. A combination of the following assessment practices are utilised to ensure that data is collected only when necessary, and more importantly, have a direct impact on the teaching and learning. Assessment is about more than just a data drop for an individual’s appraisal, so internal processes need to reflect this.
Diagnostic assessment is crucial when new content is taught to the children. The Education Endowment Fund explains that, ‘Diagnostic assessment is a crucial tool in a teacher’s toolkit to help understand the specific areas of strength and weakness in learning, especially before teaching of a particular topic or unit begins’. This type of assessment enables the teacher to plan the unit or learning objective with the knowledge of how well the children have performed. It should highlight common misconceptions and areas for development from the previous teaching.
Often this type of assessment is done by using a question level analysis tool. Within Bromcom, the Standardised Test Tracker enables members of staff to gain an analysis of the pupil performance, but also to understand areas which would require further development and teaching. A real benefit is that the user can create their own tests for question level analysis that meet the needs of their children. Thus, allowing schools to be autonomous in their delivery of their bespoke curriculum by creating their own tests.
Standardised Test Tracker – QLA Input
Standardised Test Tracker – QLA Analysis
Formative Assessment takes place daily during the delivery of lessons within a school. This assessment is often observational and relies on the regular recording of information. Formative assessment has the advantage of being instant with its feedback. Often staff will be provided with several statements and asked to ensure the children can meet those standards within the practice that they show. There is a danger of going too granular with assessment, providing too many statements that in practice a skilled teacher will be able to define from their judgements.
The NFER explains the different forms that formative assessments can also be supplied as. Formative assessments may be questions, tasks, quizzes or more formal assessments. Often formative assessments may not be recorded at all, except perhaps in the lesson plans drawn up to address the next steps indicated.’
Formative assessment is vital to understand the progress of all children, in particular to those children that are not working at age related expectations. The progression that these children will show will be minor in the case of age expectation but will be major for the individual and their needs. An area of the school that continues to be driven by formative assessment is the Early Years Classrooms. The EYFS framework has been developed to ensure that members of staff can witness the different statements that make up Age Related Expectation. Evidence collection for the different statements is paramount to many schools and the creation of portfolios have been a ‘go to’ outcome that can help drive both the curriculum delivery and assessment of the student.
Bromcom supports this approach within the MIS. If the school utilises curriculum statements that require the teachers to comment, evidence or level; Bromcom’s assessment tracker calculates how many pupils are working at an Age-Related Expectations. The analysis of statements can also be created in the form of a summative grade. Staff can easily use mobiles or tablets to collect data and create an evidence bank within the MIS, then generate portfolios for parents.
Primary Tracker – Formative
Summative assessment is often seen as the complete opposite to formative assessment. These tests can be more formal and create a performance snapshot of the pupil. The test is not likely to inform the teaching and learning of the individual child, but to attain their progress nationally and to see if they have learnt the content that has been delivered. Summative tests often come at the end of the unit of work to track the retention of the learning and to provide a view for the next term or teacher that they will meet.
The real benefit of summative assessment is the analysis of the different trends that can inform decision making at a class, cohort and school level. For leadership, much of the focus is on summative assessment, whereas teachers can apply the reasoning behind the level through formative assessment.
Bromcom offers a summative tracker that can have bespoke mark sets, grade sets and age related expectations. It enables the user to analyse performance at a variety of different levels. Bromcom features unique dashboards that can drill down to student level, ensuring the reasons behind trends and patterns can be clearly identified. From here, schools can use these reference points to develop targets and expectations for individual students.
KS4 Dashboard Analytics
The changing climate of education has encouraged MATs to develop assessment systems and processes at Trust level. MATs may wish to standardise mark sets and gradesets, removing certain elements of the autonomy. Centralised teams are rapidly appreciating the importance of managing and analysing the school level data. The ability to deploy high quality resources to the schools within the Trust enables the school community to close the gap.
Bromcom has a wide range of tools that are dedicated to supporting MATs. The MAT Vision product amalgamates trust data and allows the centralised team to analyse the performance, attendance and behaviour of both staff and pupils. Used alongside the financial solution, budgeting and the allocation of resources can be swift and effective.
Bromcom is continually reviewing and listening to the needs of their customers. The company provides a detailed assessment toolkit in which their users can choose the assessment elements that will complement the needs of the school. The flexibility of the system stands out from a crowd of competitors to ensure that the data you want to capture can be done in an efficient way to improve the teaching and learning within the schools. It is this flexibility within the system that will encourage future developments within the field of assessment and not force schools to use a standardised approach that can quickly become outdated. Bromcom is creating a sustainable solution by listening, innovating and caring about their customers as they develop in along their educational journey.