Assessment falls into 2 main categories:
Summative – this takes place at the end of a module or unit of work and measures the attainment of a student Formative – this is ongoing assessment which allows a teacher to judge understanding/skills/knowledge and provides the opportunity to help students improve and teachers to plan and adjust teaching and learning in lessons to meet the needs of all learners
In school we make regular use of summative assessment in order to track the progress of students. Three times a year Key Stage 3 students are given National Curriculum levels based on tests or assessed pieces of work and an attitude to learning mark from the scale 110. The levels are reported to parents in the form of reviews and reports throughout the year and to the DCSF at the end of the key stage. This process is mirrored at Key Stage 4 using GCSE grades and where appropriate diploma levels. However the assessments occur six times a year enabling tighter monitoring and tracking. Whilst summative assessment is important in that we are accountable for the standard students reach at the end of each key stage, formative assessment is the most important form of assessment. It is this that helps students move forward and make progress in their learning. Formative assessment has been referred to as scaffolding – when a learner is at a particular stage and needs to move forward to the next stage, formative assessment provides that step, or the scaffolding on which to climb. Formative assessment can be: oral
eg a question designed to make the student think a comment to correct misinterpretation a suggestion of what to do as a next step
written eg feedback on a piece of work which suggests next steps suggestions on how to improve the work or provide a challenge or question: „Can you do…?‟ All work should be responded to either orally or in written form. It is often necessary for written feedback to be given both during and after the completion of a key assignment. Whilst departments will have identified their own key assignments which will receive detailed written feedback that makes explicit reference to level and grade criteria and published mark schemes, there are some common elements to good practice in marking. The best formative assessment would be as follows:
Ensure there are clear objectives so that learning and feedback are focused Comment on strengths and how to improve in general oral and written feedback They should include a positive and then a specific next step. At times the next step could be achieved by the answering of a question posed in the comment. Ensure students act on the feedback in an observable way. (provide time to read, reflect and act on comments/suggestions/make alterations/answer a question posed) Use peer and self-assessment to support assessment and learning Comments should avoid “praise-style” phrases such as “You are a good worker” or “keep up the good work” and “punitive” phrases like “Take more care with …” as these focus on the person, not the work.
“Feedback should be more work for the recipient than it is for the giver.” Dylan Wiliam Sept 2009 Page | 1
It is accepted that the grades/levels are needed at key points during a course and that some students derive a level of satisfaction from hearing them. It is important to make the distinction however that they are not „formative‟. Regular issuing of grades does not in itself raise achievement, but rather summarises achievement so far. Where a piece of work has been set it should be responded to quickly. In the case of a piece of research or the completion of a preparation task that supports a later assignment, this could simply mean an initial against the work or a note in the teacher‟s mark book. It is an opportunity to reward independence and should therefore link into the departmental or whole school reward system and qualify for praise, house points, positive referrals etc. Longer pieces of written work require quality written feedback according to the best practice guidance above. Teachers‟ written feedback should model the process we hope students will use when conducting peer and self assessment. Peer and self assessment should be used wherever possible; to open up the dialogue and improve students ability to articulate their own and others‟ learning and in turn direct them towards their area for improvement. Student friendly assessment criteria should be displayed and made available for use in all subjects and students should be explicitly taught how to make use of this assessment material. Good practice could involve post-its given peer to peer with two stars and a wish; or SWANS (Strengths, weaknesses and next steps), which relate to the published criteria and which the teacher oversees and supports. Formative assessment of Literacy There is a basic expectation that all students will use punctuation, attempt to spell subject specific vocabulary, use appropriate connectives for the text type (often subject specific) and group their ideas into paragraphs wherever possible. It is therefore best for their literacy development if all teachers are willing to mark for and value these aspects of writing wherever possible. A literacy marking code for use by the whole school is as follows: P. in margin and underlining where errors in punctuation hinder meaning (limited to one section within a piece of work in order to signal a literacy target) best practice would be to give the job of deciding the correct punctuation to the student eg. Add the 3 missing pieces of punctuation/add capitals Sp. in margin and underlining where a subject specific keyword is mis-spelt and should be learnt (helpful if a strategy is also suggested EG. Words within words or a mnemonic etc) ^C in margin and underlining where a connective could have been used and perhaps a task to find one and add it in. (Grid of connectives in the front of every student planner – some are particularly relevant to different subjects eg causal connectives for Geography and Science) // within a text to denote a new paragraph or even better: // + a number at the end of the work and a task for the student to find where that number of paragraphs would fit best and say why. Remember, even marking for Literacy follows the general rule: “Feedback should be more work for the recipient than it is for the giver.” Dylan Wiliam Sept 2009
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Appendix I Assessment Policy: The Research Basis.
“The most common form of feedback is to give students a mark, often with a comment. Research has shown that marking is better than giving no feedback at all, but giving comments produces substantial improvements. What is surprising is that giving marks and comments together produces no improvement. When students get both a mark and a comment, they first look at their own mark and then at their neighbour‟s. They hardly ever read the comments. So teachers who craft helpful comments are wasting their time if they also give a mark. Of course, because writing helpful comments that tell students what they need to do to improve takes time, it may follow that teachers may not be able to mark all of a student‟s work. What is important, however, is that when teachers do give feedback, they ensure that students act on it. Of course, students do need to be given some sort of feedback about how well they are doing in terms of marks, grades or levels, but this need not be more than three or four times a year.” “Our feedback must tell students not just what needs to be improved, but also how to go about it – one of the most common „pet hates‟ among students is feedback such as “Be more systematic”. As one student commented: “If I knew how to be more systematic, I‟d have done it first time round!” [Professors Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black, King‟s College, London writing in the TES, 4 October 2003. The full research is entitled „Inside the Black Box‟.] Furthermore: Dwek‟s research into attribution theory (2000) suggests that there is a clear division between students who attribute their success or failure to internal forces and those who attribute their success or failure to external forces. The internal says: “I did badly because I did not try.” The external says: “I did badly because he (the teacher) does not like me.” There is also a division between those who see their ability as a stable state and those who see their ability as an unstable state. The „stable‟ thinks they will never be good at something whilst the „unstable‟ thinks they can change and improve with effort. The best we can do for our students is to promote through our formative approaches, a „Learning attribution‟ which reinforces the idea that ability is not fixed (unstable) and success is due to internal forces which are ours to control. Smart is not something you are, but something you get!
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