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What are other schools doing? Focus on progress

We spend a lot of time talking to schools about their assessment systems and how they can be improved. While the conversations vary depending on each school’s particular set of circumstances, we often hear the same question: “What are other schools doing?” So in the next few blogs, we’re going to share some things that we’ve seen that might work for you and your pupils in your school.

What does progress without levels look like in other schools?

First up, we’re going to take a look at the different ways that people are demonstrating progress in a world without levels. When the new curriculum was first introduced, many people wanted things to work in exactly the same way as they had previously, including measuring progress in points. The problem they found was that the non-linear nature of the frameworks they were now using doesn’t really lend itself to that. It’s no longer as straightforward as getting a level, converting it to a points value and subtracting the points value they were at previously.

Although it is still possible to do something that feels like this, it doesn’t necessarily give you information that is very meaningful; in particular when it comes to pupils working outside age related expectations. While the initial impetus was around the expectations that ‘others’ would want to see points progress, this is becoming less and less the case as people are moving to ways that are actually far better and more informative ways of thinking about progress.

So how are others monitoring and demonstrating the ‘progress’ that pupils are making?

Focusing on progress in percentage coverage

At the beginning of the year, most pupils in most schools will start on the section of the assessment framework that’s relevant to their age. This will be regardless of where they got to the previous year (unless they are a long way from age related expectation). This means that progress through the current stage of a framework, in most cases, gives a measure of progress through the academic year.

Percentage coverage is a simple and effective way to look at this progress, and it’s something Classroom Monitor was able to adapt to easily when the curriculum changed. All markbook scoring in Classroom Monitor is based on percentages, even if in your school these are translated into scores. More information can be found on our percentage tracking help page.

Looking at progress in individual objectives

For many pupils and their parents, progress through actual objectives is much more tangible to understand than any progress measure. Looking at how progress through objectives has happened over time can be particularly helpful for those pupils who don’t seem to have made much progress when looking at subject scores alone.

There are a number of ways that Classroom Monitor can help teachers to track at this objective level, including pupil assessment summaries and progress reports, plus learning journeys which are great for sharing with parents.

Comparing group attainment year on year

An increasingly popular way of demonstrating progress is comparing the attainment of a cohort on two different dates. Giving the proportions of pupils achieving particular attainment categories at each date can help you to identify if the group is broadly where they should be, doing better than would be expected or a cause for concern. You might want to do this for the whole cohort, sub-groups such as pupil premium or for particular intervention groups.

In Classroom Monitor, you can load group tracking tables so that you can compare attainment for the same group on two different dates. You also have the option to export this information and add the pupil names into each category so you can track the movement of individual pupils between those categories.

Analysing data for pupils grouped by prior attainment

Tracking pupils based on their prior attainment is a very useful way to ensure that individuals are doing as you would expect based on the starting points. In England, the statutory progress measure for KS2 introduced in 2016 groups pupils into 21 groups based on their KS1 results.

From an in-school tracking perspective, it’s unlikely that you want to classify your pupils into this many groups. But we are seeing some schools move to grouping their pupils into high, medium and lower attainers based on previous attainment; at the end of EYFS, end of KS1/2 or at the end of the previous year. Some are using aggregated scores in reading, writing and maths (like the old average points progress) whilst others are creating attainment groups for each subject. Then when viewing attainment, they break their analysis down into these key groups.

Classroom Monitor allows schools to create groups using that prior attainment data, and you can see more about that here: Prior Attainment Groups help page.

Thinking about points as indicators not measures

It would be fair to say that while many of our schools are changing the way that they are thinking about progress, we still have a large proportion who still feel most comfortable with tracking in ‘points’. However, the schools that are most successful in this have moved away from thinking about points as a measure and recognise that in a non-linear curriculum they are more of an indicator. For example, a pupil with English as an additional language may be showing that they have made 8 points progress in a year because of the way the curriculum is set up. While it may not be accurate to take this as a measure of how the pupil has moved through the curriculum, it can be used as an indicator that they are doing well. You can find out more about this on our Points Progress help page.

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