Assessment without levels – the key!

“Measuring pupils’ progress over a short period is unlikely to be helpful or reliable and it should, therefore, not be necessary to conduct and record in-school summative assessment for monitoring progress more than once a term. Ofsted does not require progress to be recorded with any particular frequency.  • The primary purpose of formative assessment is to inform teaching and learning. Unnecessary recording of formative assessment outcomes should be avoided. “

Assessment without levels commission

The whole business of assessing progress at excessively frequent intervals against a series of “can do” statements  seems to have its roots in a report entitled 20/20 Vision, published in 2009 under the auspices of the then Chief Inspector of Schools, Christine Gilbert. This report encouraged excessive data entry by teachers under the guise of “personalising” the curriculum. The fact that the report has been dismissed by the current government has not stopped it being influential among SLTs. One has to remember just how hostile the head teachers’ union ASCL was to the whole idea of abolishing levels. The tick box approach to education encouraged by the 20/20 vision report was at risk! How could learning take place unless teachers were entering sublevels on a spreadsheet every few weeks?!!!

However the blob always strikes back. In a previous post, I mentioned the PiXL approach to assessment without levels, ie complicated, bureaucratic checklists which increase teacher workload substantially. However, I was shocked to find that the idea of “steps” and numerous “can do” statements is doing the rounds in my subject area. A number of schools and teachers simply cannot make the shift from a mind set where criteria are required for everything.

Daisy Christodoulou’s video clip on assessment without levels needs to be sent to every school in the country and played in a staff meeting. For those who have not seen it, a copy of the link is below. Only when SLTs engage with the rationale for removing levels can we move away from the checklist mentality.

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