This blog continues our series on sharing assessment data. Last time, we looked at sharing with parents and now we’re going to move onto sharing with the group of people that teachers probably share the most with…pupils.
If we look back to the final report of the Commission on Assessment without Levels (2015) they state that one of the ways that a ‘successful transition to assessment without levels should be measurable’ is that:
‘pupils should develop a better understanding of how they are doing and where they need to target their efforts to progress. This should foster a sense of responsibility for their own learning and should result in more meaningful dialogue between pupil and teacher about the pupil’s attainment and progress.’
What is most useful to share with pupils?
The commission’s report also stated that part of the rational for removing levels was that:
‘levels were often the main focus of conversations with pupils and their parents or carers. Pupils compared themselves to others and often labelled themselves according to the level they were at. This encouraged pupils to adopt a mind-set of fixed ability, which was particularly damaging where pupils saw themselves at a lower level.’
At the start of the transition to assessment without levels, many schools still used a form of pseudo-level to classify pupil attainment and attempt to measure the progress that those pupils were making. In many schools this is still the case and while this might be useful information for looking at grouped data and trends, it is debatable how useful this is to the pupils themselves. Sharing these scores runs the risk of mimicking the fixed mind-set associated with levels that the Commission for Assessment without levels was concerned about.
An increasing number of schools are using a percentage-based model as an attainment and progress indicator without converting it into a score. Arguably, this is more useful for the pupils as they can keep track of the progress they are making, whatever pace that may be at and wherever they are in relation to their peers. However, whilst this information can show pupils the progress they have made, it doesn’t show them how they can make progress in the future.
What can be far more useful for pupils is to see their progress against the particular learning outcomes that they are being assessed against. This allows for a tangible celebration of their specific individual achievements as well as highlighting the next steps that they need to make in order to continue to progress. In schools where this information is already being recorded, and in some cases associated with evidence, simply sharing this information can help open up conversations between teacher and pupil and help pupils to be an active participant in their learning journey.
Sharing formative assessment
Of course, teachers are giving pupils feedback on their attainment and progress on a daily basis: marking in books, conversations as a whole class or one on one, encouraging smiles, a sympathetic ear or a guiding hand with something that they are struggling with. This is of vital importance but what we’re going to discuss here are the ways that pupils can usefully share in the formative assessment information that we are recording about their learning periodically.
The schools that we work with have a range of ways that they share this type of information with their pupils. When teachers have already recorded where pupils are secure, are progressing or have gaps that need to be filled, this can be shared as part of a learning conversation between pupil and teacher – as a ‘target sheet’ or simply a celebration of achievement so that the pupil can take ownership of and share their success with their parents.
The Assessment Summaries in Classroom Monitor work particularly well for these purposes. Teachers can generate these to cover a time frame of their choosing whether that’s a half term, a specific time period of interest or a whole year and they also have a range of options to ensure that they match the purpose of sharing with the pupil at that particular point in time:
- Pupil Assessment Summaries give you the option to showcase achievements, targets or both. One particularly good way for these to be used is as an ongoing document which the child refers to during their learning. This helps them to focus on the things that they know they need to do to progress. There’s also an option to add a pupil self-evaluation section so they can actively participate in the assessment process.
- The Assessment Progress Report is a great way to show pupils how far they’ve come and what they still need to achieve, as it shows the assessments that have been made against the objectives that they’ve been working on and how these have changed over time. The teacher selects relevant points in time and the pupils can see their progress from an objective being a target or ‘almost achieved’ into being secure and in some cases exceeding.
- The Learning Journey is something that’s often associated with Early Years pupils. But they can be a really powerful way to show any pupil their progress in their learning. Classroom Monitor allows teachers to easily store evidence of learning against objectives in a markbook or using the app. Outputting these into a learning journey can give the child a great visual record of a how they have progressed over time.
Conversations with pupils
One of the inspection criteria in the Ofsted handbook, is ‘pride in achievement and commitment to learning, supported by a positive culture across the whole provider’. While the outputs mentioned go some way towards this, allowing children to feed directly into their own assessment can go even further.
While many teachers rely on the Class Markbook in Classroom Monitor for recording the majority of their assessments, the Pupil Markbook gives a different view of that same information and can be particularly useful for this purpose. The pupil markbook can be loaded for a single or multiple subjects to be used as a stimulus in a learning conversation with a pupil. The pupil can see the assessments that have been made in relation to particular objectives which gives the opportunity to discuss why particular judgements have been made so they know how to move forward. It also gives the pupil an opportunity to feed their perspective into the process.
So if we return to that suggested measure of a successful transition to assessment without levels…do your pupils have a good understanding of how they are doing and where they need to target their efforts to progress? Do they have a sense of responsibility for their own learning? Is there meaningful dialogue between pupil and teacher about the pupil’s attainment and progress? Hopefully, the ideas in this blog will support you in your sharing with pupils that takes you further on your journey towards and beyond this.