Assessment Without Levels
What is changing and why
The Government has made a huge change in the way that children in schools will be assessed from September 2015 onwards. This is to tie in with the New National Curriculum that started to be used by all schools at the beginning of the 2014/5 Academic Year. This is a new way of thinking for schools and assessment will look very different from how it has previously. The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that there will no longer be National Curriculum levels and that schools will have to set up their own way of assessing pupils.
This is because the DfE want to avoid where children have moved through the old National Curriculum levels quickly in order to achieve higher attainment levels. It was felt that the old National Curriculum and the levels system failed to ensure adequately that children had a wide breadth and depth of knowledge at each National Curriculum level.
What will happen at Shanklea
At Shanklea Primary School, we have researched many different methods of assessing pupils and we have studied demonstrations of various commercial software tracking systems, as well as a system developed by Northumberland Local Authority. The school has decided to adopt the Essex Authority ‘Primary Target Tracker’ system with the same format used in the Early Years and Foundation Stage. This takes the end of year expectations for each year group and divides them into three categories which are defined as follows:
- Towards: Your child is working towards the end of year expectations.
- Expected: Your child is secure in the majority of the end of year expectations.
- Depth: Your child is secure in almost all or all the end of year expectations and is able to use and apply their knowledge and skills confidently.
Under the old levels based system, children who were ‘Depth’ might have moved into the next level. The DfE now want children who are in the ‘Depth’ bracket to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop their using and applying skills. The DfE have termed this phase of learning ‘Mastery and Depth’. Only exceptional children will move into working towards the end of year expectations of the year above. Similarly, children who are unlikely to be ‘Depth’ at the end of the year may continue to work towards the expectations from the year below.
At the end of each Key Stage, the following will apply:
At the end of the Reception year, each child will be assessed against the Early Years Profile. To receive a good level of development your child needs to be ‘Exceeding’ in the Prime Areas, Literacy and Numeracy (12 areas of learning). Your child’s learning will be identified as ‘Emerging', ‘Expected’ or ‘Exceeding’ the Early Learning Goal.
Evidence is gathered throughout the year and assessed against the ‘Development Matters’ age band. This evidence is taken from a variety of sources including adult-led group work in books, observations and teacher assessments.
In Year 1, the children will no longer be assessed using levels and sub-levels. The children’s learning will be continuously assessed throughout the year and judgments will be made in accordance with the new National Curriculum. You will be informed at the end of the year whether your child is ‘Working towards Expected Progress’, ‘Making Expected Progress’, or ‘Mastery and Depth.’
At the end of Year 1 your child will complete a Phonics Screening Test. This is a short, simple assessment to make sure that all pupils have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6. In order to prepare your child for this, they will bring real and nonsense words home to practise.
2015 was the last year that children in Year 2 will be assessed using levels. In the Summer Term, children will sit a Reading Comprehension and Writing task and a Maths question paper which includes a Mental Arithmetic section. The results of these tests will support and inform teacher assessment.
Key Stage 1
It is anticipated that the majority of children will reach the assessment point of ‘Year 2 expected.’ A smaller number of children will reach ‘Year 2 depth’, and a small number will be ‘Year 2 towards', or possibly ‘Year 1 depth/expected/towards’.
Years 3, 4 and 5
In Years 3, 4 and 5 children are no longer assessed using the system of levels and sub-levels. Instead, teachers will assess progress according to whether pupils are ‘Towards Expected Progress’, ‘Expected Progress’ for their age or ‘Depth’ in their year group. Assessments will be made during the course of the academic year, at the end of each unit, against National Curriculum expectations.
2015 was the last year that children in Year 6 will be assessed using levels. In the Summer Term, children will sit a Reading Comprehension test , Spelling and Punctuation test (SPAG), Writing task and a Maths test which includes a Mental Arithmetic section. The results of these tests will support and inform teacher assessment too.
Key Stage 2
Many parents may have heard the expression ‘Secondary Ready’ to describe the standard children must achieve by the end of Year 6. Similarly to Year 2, there will be some children who may be ‘Year 6 Depth’ and some children who are ‘Year 6 Towards.’ There may also be a small number of children who are still working at a lower level e.g. ‘Year 4/5 depth/expected/towards.’
Throughout the academic year, your child will be assessed continuously using statements from the new Primary Curriculum. If the class teacher feels that a child is not making ‘accepted’ progress or is finding a specific area difficult, then parents will be contacted to discuss the strategies that teachers propose to put in place to meet the identified needs. This may include small group activities with an adult or extra activities recommended to do at home. Often, these interventions will be temporary to overcome any gaps in a child’s learning and progress will be made as a result. If progress remains an issue then further steps will be required and parents will be involved in discussions with the class teacher to decide the next steps for their child.
The new system may feel unfamiliar at first but we believe it will:
- Enable all our children to maximize and enjoy their learning
- Give parents clear information of their child’s progress
- Enable any problems to be promptly identified and appropriate actions taken
- Conform to new National Curriculum and assessment Guidelines