Elson Approach to Assessment
We believe a successful combination of curriculum content, strong pedagogy and effective assessment are essential for children to learn well and develop understanding. These three elements are interlinked, complementary and do not stand alone in the learning process. At Elson Junior School, effective use of assessment helps teachers and pupils to identify the next steps in learning as well as providing a framework for measuring and evaluating learning progress both during and at the end of a learning journey.
In our school, we have developed a ‘Planning and Assessment Cycle’ process. Teachers work on this principle when they are planning learning journeys throughout our curriculum. By knowing what the children have been taught and have remembered, as well as what they don’t know, the teaching teams are able to plan to meet this need and enable children to make good progress. The teaching team use a variety of assessment strategies (formative and summative) when they are gathering evidence over time to enable them to make a judgement at specific points in the school year.
Formative assessment takes place on a day-to-day basis during teaching and learning, allowing teachers and pupils to assess attainment and progress. This form of assessment is gathered overtime and should be purposeful. A teacher will use the information gathered to assess what the barrier to learning may be or to check understanding of a concept taught. Once the data is gathered, teachers will use it to shape learning for the children. This could be within a lesson, looking towards the next lesson or even in the next learning journey. Formative assessment may take many forms in the classroom. For example: pupil conferencing, diagnostic tasks, key questions, low stakes quizzes or a key activity that shows understanding of the concept such as a one-word summary or a quick write. It is acceptable to make assessments from activities that are verbal, written or practical applications.
Summative assessment sums up what a pupil has achieved at the end of a period of time, relative to the learning aims and the relevant national standards. This may be an assessment at the end of a topic, a milestone, school year or key stage. A summative assessment may be a written test, an observation, a conversation or a task. It may be recorded through writing, through photographs or other visual media, or through an audio recording. Whichever medium is used, the assessment will show what has been achieved. It will summarise attainment at a particular point in time and may provide individual and cohort data that will be useful for tracking progress and for informing stakeholders (e.g. parents, governors, etc.).
At Elson Junior School there is an assessment process that we follow through the school year.
Teachers track the progress of learners through a unit using a Daily Assessment for Learning sheet. This enables the teacher to identify who has understood the learning and who didn’t. Teachers then decide what to do to support or stretch the children. Through each unit of learning, teachers will use formative and summative assessment strategies to gather data.
Pupil progress and attainment is monitored regularly throughout the school year. Each teacher takes part in regular Pupil Progress Meetings with the Senior Leadership Team to discuss the progress of the children in their class. This is an opportunity to both reflect on the impact of actions taken in the classroom and what to target next.
We have ‘milestones’ in the assessment calendar. This is a point in the year where a judgement is made by the teacher as to whether each child in their class is on track to meet age-related expectations by the end of the school year. This judgement is made against the Hampshire Assessment Model (HAM) objectives using a variety of evidence that has been gathered over time. Our milestones typically occur in November, February, May and at the end of the year in July.
As part of the reporting system, parents are updated with how their child is progressing at set points in the school year.
We have a moderation process to quality check our judgments. This information is shared with parents as part of the reporting system. Teachers have a professional conversation with colleagues both within the school and between schools, about the judgements they have made and how they came to that decision for a sample of books. This happens at set points in the teaching year. Moderation activities also take place with subject leaders and as part of Pupil Progress Meetings.
We are really proud of how we have improved our assessment processes and practices over the past two years. The focus of any assessment made is to support and challenge the children’s learning and quickly identify starting points and next steps. The impact of this has been positive on the incremental progress we have seen the children make and teachers and leaders’ judgements have been validated by external moderation.
Addendum September 2021
Due to the global pandemic our assessment strategy for last school year was adapted. The principals of good practice that underpin our approach to assessment remained the same. However, with the time that children had been learning at home remotely, it was important to precisely understand and identify the specific concepts and knowledge that a child understood and what they still needed to master. To address this, we will built on the good practice that was already in place.
At the end of the year we assessed children’s reading, writing and mathematics knowledge in line with a set of criteria taken from the National Curriculum, using guidance published by HIAS. This was essentially a set of critical learning for the year group.
As the year progressed we tracked the children’s progress at ‘check points’. This was a point where teachers reviewed the evidence they had collected and decided if the children were achieving against the identified criteria. Appropriate evidence included any diagnostic tasks, retrieval quizzes, NFER’s test questions, key assessment tasks, work books over time, Daily AfL sheets and pupil conferencing. The evidence gathered continue to be reviewed with teachers at Pupil Progress Meetings.
At the end of the school year, teaching teams passed on information for cohorts about what had been covered and understood and what had not. This then informed our teaching plans for the autumn term.
As we progress through this school year, we will continue to plan, teach and assess using our assessment process to identify gaps and learning needs to enable children to be in line with end of year expectations by the end of the school year.