The purpose of assessment is to help adults working with children understand what a child knows, understands and what they can do so that the adult can plan the child’s next steps in learning.
Assessment can also help a school benchmark children’s achievements against national expectations. It can also help a school track how much progress a child is making and help the school evaluate if a particular teaching strategy is working.
What do we assess?
We assess children’s progress against the key objectives within the curriculum. This includes assessing children’s knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, learning characteristics and dispositions and children’s ability to apply what they have learnt in a practical or problem solving context.
How do we assess?
Teachers use on-going assessments to gauge children’s knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and ability to apply their learning. These are usually observations. If a teacher observes a child having difficulty with a particular concept, they will use that observation to modify the content of a lesson or modify future plans for that child or class.
Likewise, if a teacher observes a child having mastered a skill or concept, they will move their learning on a step.
This type of assessment is sometimes referred to as Assessment for Learning. It is not usually formally recorded on a child’s educational record because it forms a teachers’ ‘working knowledge’ of a child. A teacher will be making many hundreds of ‘mental notes’ throughout the week, and act on these accordingly.
The vast majority of assessment at Stisted CE Primary Academy is this type of formative assessment. This is achieved through observing children at work, discussions with pupils, marking pupils’ work, questioning, talking to other adults working with the child, and considering any outcomes of self/peer evaluation or specific assessment tasks.
Effective accurate assessment is really important because it helps teachers to identify precisely the next small steps in learning that a child requires.
There is a second type of assessment called summative assessment.
Summative Assessments are ‘snapshot’ assessments at a particular moment in time. Tests are an example of this type of assessment. They provide a standardised benchmark or overall summary of a child’s attainment at a particular moment in time.
They are generally less informative in terms of identifying precisely what a child can or cannot because they focus more on a grade or score. The score or grade does not tell you what a child can or cant’s do.
Summative assessment ‘summarises’ what has been learnt or retained. Tests are a form of summative assessments which include the national tests or tasks children undertake at the end of Year 2 and Year 6.
The national Year 1 Phonic Screen check is also an example of summative assessment. This is where all Year 1 children take the same test. This test assesses their knowledge of letters and sounds.
Summative assessments are generally used to measure progress over a period of time and to diagnose broader strengths and weaknesses and retention of knowledge and understanding.
This is because summative assessments usually take place sometime after a particular concept or unit of work has been learnt.
Prior to 2014, children were assessed using National Curriculum levels. These were abolished by the Department of Education. Levels were replaced with end of Key Stage descriptors of expectations. These apply to Year 2 and Year 6.
To help us establish where children are at in the intervening years, we developed a Banding system to replace level. Other schools may or may not have devised a similar system.
Each Band approximately equates to the expectation for that year group e.g. a child in Year 3 will be expected to achieve the objectives and criteria set out for Band 3.
Early Years Foundation Stage
Children enter the Reception Class and undertake baseline assessments. These help us establish a benchmark for each child so we can plan an appropriate curriculum.
During the year, children are continually assessed on their journey towards achieving the Early Learning Goals.
At the end of the foundation stage year (Reception), the school compiles and Early Years Foundation Stage profile (EYFSP) for each child. This sums up the achievements of each child including the characteristics of an effective learner.
The Profile provides parents, carers and teachers with a well-rounded picture of a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities, their progress against expected levels, and their readiness for Year 1. A selection of the children’s work, photographs and observations are collated over the year in the child’s learning journey. This evidence and the teacher’s knowledge will influence the teacher’s final assessment of your child.
Children are assessed as emerging, at the expected level or at stage they have exceeded the expected level of development.
These outcomes are shared with parents in your child’s end of year report, which will also include a written narrative on each child’s three key characteristics of effective learning. This Information about each child’s progress is shared with the class one teacher and through dialogue; before each child moves up to Key Stage 1.