Mr John Holmes
Associate Principal: Assessment
The principles and aims of assessment
The ultimate aim of all assessment is to improve outcomes for students. This aim is pursued through two main forms of assessment: in-school formative assessment, which is used by teachers to evaluate children’s knowledge and understanding on a day-to-day basis, thereby allowing them to tailor teaching accordingly; and in-school summative assessment, which shows how much a child has learned at the end of a teaching period.
To use each form of assessment to best effect, it is important to be clear about their various purposes. This document aims to explain why pupils are being assessed, what the assessment is intended to achieve and how the assessment information will be used. It also aims to make clear how these aims can be achieved without adding unnecessarily to teacher workload, and how assessment is managed and administered within Tudor Grange Academies Trust.
The purposes of formative assessment
In-school formative assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. It allows teachers to understand pupil performance on a continuing basis. It enables teachers to identify when pupils are struggling, when they have consolidated learning and when they are ready to progress. In this way, it supports teachers to provide appropriate support or extension as necessary. It also enables teachers to evaluate their own teaching of particular topics or concepts and to plan future lessons accordingly.
For children, formative assessment provides an opportunity to measure their knowledge and understanding and to identify where they need to target their efforts to improve. Parents can also access this information through their child’s books, thereby providing opportunities to support their child’s progress. Importantly, formative assessment demonstrates to children and their families where they have already improved, thereby helping to foster a growth mindset.
School leaders and governors will not look for patterns in formative data. Rather, they will seek to ensure that formative assessment is used effectively through the academies in the Trust. If this is the case, then they have reason to be confident that children are making good progress
Methods of formative assessment
High quality formative assessment is an important ingredient in exemplary teaching and learning. Where provision is effective, formative assessments will take place in the vast majority of lessons, and teaching and learning will be continually adapted based on the outcomes of those assessments.
Effective formative assessments should be short, efficient and low stakes. They should assess fundamental knowledge, skills or concepts. The scope of any given assessment will be narrow so that it can provide insight into the source of any error, which will typically be a gap in knowledge, a misconception, or a careless mistake. In order for children to feel comfortable making mistakes, the classroom environment must be supportive, interactive, and fully embrace the conception of a growth mindset.
Effective formative assessment will utilise a variety of different methods. These can range from a teacher asking a probing question, to a child writing an essay, and feedback will be equally varied. Self-assessment and peer-assessment are both common with formative assessment, and provide an opportunity for children to reflect on what success looks like.
Marking, feedback and formative assessment
Formative assessments are marked, and generate feedback, in a variety of ways, matching the diversity of the assessment tasks. Marking may take the form of teacher observation, self-assessment, peer-assessment, or teachers reading books. Feedback may be verbal or written, generated by students themselves or by teachers, addressed to individual children or delivered to the whole class. Good formative assessment will use a variety of these methods. Whatever method is used, marking and feedback will be prompt and lead to specific actions for children. This will ensure that learning is adapted to the needs to of children.
Data arising from formative assessment
Formative assessment is intended to identify learning needs and provide information for teachers and pupils about where pupils are going, how close to their destination they are, and what they need to do to get there. The most important aspect of formative assessment is it is acted on. If it is acted on, there is likely to be evidence (e.g. in pupil work, or lesson plans) to show this. There is therefore no Trust-wide requirement to centrally input formative assessment data.
The reporting of formative assessment
Formative assessment data will not be reported to parents by the Academy. Rather, parents will be able to see their child’s progress in their books.
The purposes of summative assessment
Summative assessment provides an insight into a child’s progress in the whole of a subject so far. This enables children and parents to identify any gaps in learning on which they can now focus, and assess the likely outcome in public examinations if the child continues to work in the same manner. Teachers will use summative assessment data to assess the impact of their teaching, and identify any areas which the class would benefit from revisiting.
School leaders and governors will analyse summative data to see if there are individual students, classes, cohorts or other groups of children would benefit from intervention, and to plan those interventions.
Methods of summative assessment
Summative assessments will be issued three times a year, towards the end of each term, and children will not have seen the assessment beforehand.
The summative assessment will ask questions that address material the children have covered in the preceding term and, in some cases, questions will also address material from any and all previous topics in that subject. Summative assessments will assess material at a variety of depths, so that children can practise a wide range of skills. For GCSE and A-level students, summative assessments are likely to draw on questions from past public examinations.
Marking, feedback and summative assessments
Teachers will mark the summative assessment according to a mark scheme or by making a series of comparative judgements, which will typically inform the awarding of a grade. Teachers will use the information from summative assessments to adapt their teaching and improve further performance, both by giving individual feedback, and by feeding back to the whole class based on patterns of performance.
Data arising from summative assessment
Teachers will input grades centrally on the Academy’s Central Management Information System (iSams) along with an attitude to learning grade, which will be used when reporting to parents. These grades will then be analysed by leaders and teachers at all level.
The reporting of summative assessment
Summative assessment data are reported to parents after each summative assessment. Parents will be told, for each subject, their child’s target, their child’s attitude to learning, their child’s current grade and whether this puts them on track to surpass, achieve, or nearly achieve their target.
Governance, management, and evaluation of assessment
Ultimate responsibility for assessment lies with the Associate Principal: Assessment.
Classroom teachers are responsible for administering formative assessments, for ensuring they are marking, and for ensuring that children keep records of their progress. They are responsible for adapting their teaching in response to the feedback
Middle leaders are responsible for supporting classroom teachers in this. They will do this by directing teachers to existent formative assessment resources, and ensuring that they have the capacity to develop, and share, new formative assessment resources. Middle leaders are also responsible for adapting this policy to the needs of individual subjects, specifying when, and how often, formative assessment exercises will take place within lessons. Finally, middle leaders will identify where teachers have the capacity to support their peers in using formative assessment effectively, and where teachers need to access that support.
Each department has a senior leader link who will quality-assure the way that middle leaders manage formative assessment, and offer support where necessary.
Classroom teachers are responsible for administering and marking summative assessments, and for adapting their teaching to their class based on the outcome. Classroom teachers are also responsible for inputting data centrally by the Academy’s deadline.
Middle leaders are responsible for designing summative assessments and sharing them with class teachers in a timely manner. They are responsible for ensuring the reliability of the assessment results through a process of moderation. The senior leader with responsibility for assessment is ultimately responsible for checking the quality of these assessments.
From September 2019, the Trust will have aligned curriculums for students in Year 7 and 9. For these year groups, the responsibilities of the middle leader with respect to summative assessment are taken on by the Trust Assessment and Moderation Leads, and the responsibility of the senior leader is taken on by the Associate Principal: Assessment.