Educational leadership & learning

To be clear, this is not a commentary or exploration of the NAHT commission’s report on assessment. This is merely a ‘cut & paste’ job of some of the main points including the key recommendations. I hope this is helpful to someone…

REPORT OF NAHT COMMISSION ON ASSESSMENT                           February 2014

  • This can only be the first stage of the fuller review, which we hope will now engage the profession and relevant government bodies – the DfE, Ofsted and Ofqual.
  • Those who cannot assess cannot teach
  • Assessment is therefore too important to be the sole preserve of national tests and assessments.
  • Assessment is the means used by good teachers to evaluate that progress and diagnose the needs of the pupil.
  • Assessment helps pupils engage more fully in their own development and learning.
  • Assessment helps parents to understand and, as relevant, participate in their children’s educational journey.
  • Assessment helps head teachers and governors to plan strategically the use of the resources of the school.
  • Assessment of individual pupils and school accountability are interdependent.
  • Assessment includes externality and objectivity.
  • Assessment skills are not sufficiently prioritised in either initial teacher education or continuing professional development.
  • Assessment will benefit from the fast developing techniques of full pupil profiling which are being enhanced by information technology (IT).

 

Summary of recommendations

1. Schools should review their assessment practice against the principles and checklist set out in this report. Staff should be involved in the evaluation of existing practice and the development of a new, rigorous  assessment system and procedures to enable the school to promote high quality teaching and learning.

2. All schools should have clear assessment principles and practices to which all staff are committed and which are implemented. These principles should be supported by school governors and accessible to parents, other stakeholders and the wider school community.

3. Assessment should be part of all school development plans and should be reviewed regularly. This review process should involve every school identifying its own learning and development needs for assessment. Schools should allocate specific time and resources for professional development in this area and should

monitor how the identified needs are being met.

4. Pupils should be assessed against objective and agreed criteria rather than ranked against each other.

5. Pupil progress and achievement should be communicated in terms of descriptive profiles rather than condensed to numerical summaries (although schools may wish to use numerical data for internal purposes).

6. In respect of the National Curriculum, we believe it is valuable – to aid communication, comparison and benchmarking – for schools to be using consistent criteria for assessment. To this end, we call upon the NAHT to develop and promote a set of model assessment criteria based on the new National Curriculum.

7. Schools should work in collaboration, for example in clusters, to ensure a consistent approach to assessment. Furthermore, excellent practice in assessment should be identified and publicised, with the Department for Education responsible for ensuring that this is undertaken.

8. External moderation is an essential element in producing teacher assessment that is reliable and comparable over time, and all schools should take part in such moderation. Schools should be prepared to submit their assessment to external moderators, who should have the right to provide a written report to the head teacher and governors setting out a judgement on the quality and reliability of assessment in the school, on which the school should act. The Commission is of the view that at least some external moderation should be undertaken by moderators with no vested interest in the outcomes of the school’s assessment. This will avoid any conflicts of interest and provide objective scrutiny and broader alignment of standards across schools.

9. Schools should identify a trained assessment lead, who will work with other local leads and nationally accredited assessment experts on moderation activities.

10. Ofsted should articulate clearly how inspectors will take account of assessment practice in making judgements and ensure both guidance and training for inspectors is consistent with this.

11. The Ofsted school inspection framework should explore whether schools have effective assessment systems in place and consider how effectively schools are using pupil assessment information and data to improve learning in the classroom and at key points of transition between key stages and schools.

12. The Department for Education should make a clear and unambiguous statement on the teacher

assessment data that schools will be required to report to parents and submit to the Department for Education. Local authorities and other employers should provide similar clarity about requirements in their area of accountability.

13. The education system is entering a period of significant change in curriculum and assessment, where schools will be creating, testing and revising their policies and procedures. The government should make clear how they will take this into consideration when reviewing the way they hold schools accountable as new national assessment arrangements are introduced during 2014/15. Conclusions about trends in performance may not be robust.

14. Further work should be undertaken to improve training for assessment within initial teacher training (ITT), the newly qualified teacher (NQT) induction year and on-going professional development. This will help to

build assessment capacity and support a process of continual strengthening of practice within the school system.

15. The Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) should build provision in initial teacher training for delivery of the essential assessment knowledge.

16. All those responsible for children’s learning should undertake rigorous training in formative, diagnostic and summative assessment, which covers how assessment can be used to support teaching and learning for all pupils, including those with special educational needs. The government should provide support and

resources for accredited training for school assessment leads and schools should make assessment training a priority.

17. A number of pilot studies should be undertaken to look at the use of information technology (IT) to support and broaden understanding and application of assessment practice.

18. The use by schools of suitably modified National Curriculum levels as an interim measure in 2014 should be supported by the government. However, schools need to be clear that any use of levels in relation to

the new curriculum can only be a temporary arrangement to enable them to develop, implement and embed a robust new framework for assessment. Schools need to be conscious that the new curriculum is not in alignment with the old National Curriculum levels.

19. To assist schools in developing a robust framework and language for assessment, we call upon the NAHT to take the lead in expanding the principles and design checklist contained in this report into a full model

assessment policy and procedures, backed by appropriate professional development.

20. Schools should be asked to publish their principles of assessment from September 2014, rather than being required to publish a detailed assessment framework, which instead should be published by 2016. The development of the full framework should be outlined in the school development plan with appropriate milestones that allow the school sufficient time to develop an effective model.

21. A system wide review of assessment should be undertaken. This would help to repair the disjointed nature of assessment through all ages, 2-19.

 

Underpinning principles for assessment

1. Assessment is at the heart of teaching and learning.

a. Assessment provides evidence to guide teaching and learning.

b. Assessment provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate and review their progress.

2. Assessment is fair.

a. Assessment is inclusive of all abilities.

b. Assessment is free from bias towards factors that are not relevant to what the assessment intends to address.

3. Assessment is honest.

a. Assessment outcomes are used in ways that minimise undesirable effects.

b. Assessment outcomes are conveyed in an open, honest and transparent way to assist pupils with their learning.

c. Assessment judgements are moderated by experienced professionals to ensure their accuracy.

4. Assessment is ambitious.

a. Assessment places achievement in context against nationally standardised criteria and expected standards.

b. Assessment embodies, through objective criteria, a pathway of progress and development for every child.

c. Assessment objectives set high expectations for learners.

5. Assessment is appropriate.

a. The purpose of any assessment process should be clearly stated.

b. Conclusions regarding pupil achievement are valid when the assessment method is appropriate (to age, to the task and to the

desired feedback information).

c. Assessment should draw on a wide range of evidence to provide a complete picture of student achievement.

d. Assessment should demand no more procedures or records than are practically required to allow pupils, their parents and teachers to plan future learning.

5. Assessment is consistent.

a. Judgements are formed according to common principles.

b. The results are readily understandable by third parties.

c. A school’s results are capable of comparison with other schools, both locally and nationally.

6. Assessment outcomes provide meaningful and understandable information for:

a. pupils in developing their learning;

b. parents in supporting children with their learning;

c. teachers in planning teaching and learning. Assessment must provide information that justifies the time spent;

d. school leaders and governors in planning and allocating resources; and

e. government and agents of government.

7. Assessment feedback should inspire greater effort and a belief that, through hard work and practice, more can be achieved.

 

In an educational context, the term ‘assessment’ is used to denote a range of measurement functions for formative, diagnostic and summative uses. The data derived from such assessments are used to:

inform pupils, parents and others about the performance of individual pupils and to inform teaching and learning;

hold schools accountable for the attainment and progress of their pupils;

enable benchmarking between schools as well as monitoring performance both locally and nationally

 

In a more reliable system, tests should be used to inform and be part of the teacher’s wider assessment of pupils’ progress and attainment. The Commission’s view that too great a reliance is being put by government on external tests, particularly for school accountability purposes, was widely supported by the evidence submitted to the review. This over-reliance has led to distortion in curriculum emphasis.

 

 

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