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ADVICE NEEDED ON ASSESSMENT!!!

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by TOWNSON, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. TOWNSON

    TOWNSON New commenter

    PLEASE HELP!!!!
    I have been asked to look at a new assessment system to introduce into my school this half term. I know we are VERY far behind and was hoping for some advice from people who have a handle on 'life after levels' already in their own school. Any advice/suggestions/help/recommendations will be gratefully accepted.

    Thank you! :)
     
  2. SianLohme

    SianLohme New commenter

    Don't worry - you are not alone. We are in a similar position but are taking our time, getting the assessment principles right and working out what we want to assess and how etc. Don't make a knee jerk decision and have a look at the tool that will best fit your school's assessment practice and beliefs. Remember it is only a tool - I know a lot of schools that have jumped into a system and still don't know what they are doing with it! It will take some time but there is plenty more to come out this year. Good luck!
     
  3. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

  4. TOWNSON

    TOWNSON New commenter

    Thank you so much for the replies Sian and Michael...I will take a look!
     
  5. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Established commenter

    I have struggled to understand the "Life without levels" situation but after quite a lot of reading official stuff, forums and googling assessment products and suppliers I came to a summary with my personal conclusions.
    After the initial decision the NCTL got 34 Teaching School Alliances to do research into approaches. The results were used to create an official report “ Beyond Levels - alternative assessment approaches developed by teaching schools". On page 31 there is a clear statement " SIMS is the tracking tool ALL schools will be using ". In addition to this eight schools were selected as having developed good manual systems for collecting data - the 'winner' being Hillyfield Primary Academy (skills passport). All of this good schools' based research was fed back to Capita so they could create a SIMS assessment system that met the specification.
    In the meantime other computer systems like Arbour, Assessment without levels and FliC from East Riding Forward Teaching School Alliance have gained momentum and sold their solutions.
    It seems to me that SIMS will eventually be the home for all this data and third party systems will need to be able to migrate data to it or will have to be printed and entered again.
    All will / should become clear early 2016 when the Dfe has made its mind up about how their new framework will work. I suspect by that time they will have upgraded their systems to upload/import XML data from SIMS to meet their needs to monitor the growth of their new 'baby' and start analyzing which objectives are being achieved / not.
    If you think I have anything badly wrong please feel free to tell me how you think it is - because a lot of schools are already badly stressed by this badly managed transition.
     
    TOWNSON likes this.
  6. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

    I think you're reading too much into that. SIMS is indeed an easy tool to turn to when you're working across an alliance, because almost all schools already have it. However, the DfE should not - and will not - be collecting data at that level. They only collect the data at the end of each Key Stage, and that is done directly from the marking agency, before the schools even get the data. There should be no need to provide any in-school data in any format to anyone, other than to allow Ofsted to see how assessment works effectively in your school to support children to make progress.
     
  7. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Established commenter

    Call me naive - but surely the long term aim should be to remove the need for testing via Sats in favour of a better evidence based approach using assessment data that can be also be used to identify weaknesses the whole school needs to address. In the long term schools should be able to deviate from some parts of the curriculum ( not core reading/writing ) to help gifted children develop in their emerging talents without being found guilty of abandoning trigonometry (for example). If I was in the DfE I would be itching to get a better 'finger on the pulse' rather than squabbling about whether examinations are tougher/easier than they were 'n' years ago.
     
  8. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Established commenter

    As an observation: why is it the DfE / NCTL only endorse manual systems for use and resist the urge to compare or recommend any computerised system as being suitable ? Maybe Which could take this up and ask the DfE if they agree. It is grossly unfair to make schools take the time and energy to do this for themselves and maybe get it right.
     
  9. T34

    T34 Established commenter

    'ALL' there is referring only to a particular, small alliance of schools which has made that decision, which is presumably to use the Assessment Manager module to store tracking data. The reasons for this group's choice is probably that it has already bought this module, either by conscious choice or by accident.

    Getting back to "assessment without levels" - "assessment" for most schools will involve a list (or several lists) of statements which are to be ticked. The ticks are counted and the number of ticks recorded termly or half termly in the tracking software, or maybe the ticks themselves are recoded directly to the tracking software (if you want to make it more complicated and tedious).
    The software may make a decision based on the number of statements - "emerging", "secure", "mastery" or whatever it likes. Doesn't really matter what you call them- they are "Levels" in all but name. The inherent problem is how to assess slow learners.

    The result of the DfE not providing levels descriptors and not reporting KS in levels is simply to a) Give teachers a lot of worry, and b) cause all schools to self-impose APP .
     
  10. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

    I disagree. I think we need to clearly separate the two purposes. SATs are there for accountability purposes. They're not perfect, but they do provide a very simple overview of attainment and progress. And frankly, a very simply overview is all you can ever hope for when comparing thousands of schools.

    I wasn't aware that the DfE/NCTL had endorsed any systems.

    I agree that this has been an unfortunate result of the situation, but it isn't the inevitable solution. The transition has been incredibly badly handled by the DfE, but actually could be giving schools an opportunity to really focus on getting assessment right. The problem is, we've spent so long being told what to do, that no-one seems to have any skill left in devising assessment practices themselves.
     
  11. T34

    T34 Established commenter

    ...Including the DfE.
    You have made a start in your '7 points' https://michaelt1979.wordpress.com/...-about-any-new-post-levels-assessment-scheme/
    Which is of more use than any number of DfE publications.
    We need simple definitions.
    Assessment is finding out what the pupil can do.
    Tracking is expressing the results of assessment as a single number/letter/combination of the two.
     
  12. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Established commenter

    I do not think we should be comparing schools. Assessments are at pupil level. Some pupils are failed by their poor teaching, Some teachers fail due to poor leadership. Some leaders may be trying to work beyond their capability.
    If assessments are validated rather than moderated you get a measure of teacher competence. If assessment data passes validation you should be able to predict exam results fairly accurately. If a test result does not confirm the prediction then you look for external factors such as stress, sleep deprivation, distraction, headache, attitude, hunger, anger etc. So why bother doing the test ?
     
  13. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Established commenter

    Assessment data would be a goldmine for the DfE, even if they only request samples from different geographic / type / class of schools for statistical analysis.Off the top of my head maybe they could compare the effects of Big Maths vs Mathletics, find correlations in more detail about the effects of ADHD, do official trials of new resources vs traditional methods, graph the uptake of new objectives etc. The potential is staggering. Managers in business, particularly sales/marketing would give their eye teeth to be able to get their hands on data of that quality to drive their business in the right direction.
     
  14. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

     
  15. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Established commenter

    All this talking around the topic is of little help in answering the original question. I talk only as a governor with 30 years in database / business analysis applying a pragmatic approach to educational parallels.
    The company i worked for took 6 months to compare IBM Maapics vs SAP vs J.D.Edwards vs Hoskyns, Assessment of pupils pales into relative insignificance.
    Has no one done any sort of comparison of different manual / computer systems for the benefit of the whole educational community ? Not even a decent Powerpoint ? Why Not ?
     
  16. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

    Because you're confusing assessment with tracking. The systems are frankly all but academic. The whole point of the shift to remove levels is to stop focussing on tracking and start focussing on high quality assessment, which is a professional CPD matter more than a software one!
    As I say, start with the Assessment Commission Report - that's my advice.
     
    t4tes likes this.
  17. T34

    T34 Established commenter

    Yes. Tracking and assessment are both required, as before, but the level descriptors are now deemed to be unsuitable for assessment purposes (after nearly 30 years of use!).
    The official aim now is that the pupil be assessed against a different list of criteria (not the levels criteria), criteria connected more intimately with the actual topics the child has studied (and which the school has to work out for itself).
    Many schools have been doing this for a long time, so it's a matter of the DfE trying to persuade all schools to assess in this way. This method of assessment can be extremely time-consuming, and much of the data is superfluous.

    For tracking, the report seems to be recommending termly tests? These have always been used by nearly all schools anyway
     
  18. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

    Part of the Assessment Commission report points out: there is no inherent value in recording much of this assessment. It needn't be turned into data at all.
     
    Scintillant likes this.
  19. T34

    T34 Established commenter

    I think the report is referring to formative assessment where it says that.
     
  20. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

    I would argue that the recording of individual objectives is about formative assessment. When we refer to summative assessment it's usually a summary score or outcome that tries to give an estimate of attainment across a subject or area.

    The report also refers to summative assessment saying that it's pointless recording more than 3 times per year.
     

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