“The system has been so conditioned by levels that there is considerable challenge in moving away from them. We have been concerned by evidence that some schools are trying to recreate levels based on the new national curriculum. Unless this is addressed, we run the risk of failing to put in place the conditions for a higher-attaining, higher-equity system.”
The above statement from the Commission for Assessment Without Levels has possibly underestimated just how rigidly too many head teachers have their mind sets stuck in a time warp somewhere between 2005 and 2010. I recently came across the organisation PiXL, which I understand now embraces over 1500 schools.
No doubt this organisation has done some good in the past, but its approach to assessment without levels totally ignores the advice of the commission. Basically, each subject is encouraged to come up with a long checklist of “can do” statements against which pupil attainment and progress can be measured.
The commission pointed out the problem with this using the following example.
A statement like ‘Can compare two fractions to identify which is larger’ sounds precise, but whether pupils can do this or not depends on which fractions are selected. The Concepts in Secondary Mathematics and Science (CSMS) project investigated the achievement of a nationally representative group of secondary school pupils, and found out that when the fractions concerned were 3/7 and 5/7, around 90% of 14-year-olds answered correctly, but when more typical fractions, such as 3/4 and 4/5 were used, 75% answered correctly. However, where the fractions concerned were 5/7 and 5/9, only around 15% answered correctly.”
Nevertheless PiXL still promotes its cargo cult, tick box approach to assessment and learning. To over 1500 schools. What a pity the commission could not specifically mention PiXL as an example of what we should NOT be doing!