Self assessment by pupils can be an important example of Assessment for Learning. It’s often called “I can” assessment, and based on simple statements in child-friendly language that pupils can indicate their degree of agreement or disagreement with.
Our idea is to write a few “I can” statements that connect directly to each statement of the APP Guidelines, and then to present the results of pupils’ self assessments to the teachers when they are also assessing them. The teachers’ assessments, which may or may not have been guided by those of the pupils, are used to track progress and establish next steps as usual. Then we will use the link between “I can” and APP statements again, this time in the opposite direction, to write each pupil’s next steps in child-friendly language.
Pupils who understand their own targets, and take ownership of them, should be better motivated. Pupils who practice self assessment should develop their skills of reflection and self-awareness. We are waiting with some excitement to see if the first results of this project live up to our expectations.
Over the last six months, we’ve worked through the new Welsh curriculum word-by-word, and organised every Attainment Target into a set of distinct, named skills that progress through the levels. (For example, Writing includes skills named Organisation and Structure, Spelling… and History includes Time and Sequence, Historical Enquiry…) We have also taken teacher assessment records made skill-by-skill on the old curriculum by around 60 schools, and attempted to convert these to the new curriculum. That work taught us that Science, ICT, DT and PE, and to a lesser extent Geography, have changed too much to allow direct comparison, while the other Attainment Targets are effectively unchanged in the new curriculum.
Similarly, we have broken down each Area of Learning of the new Foundation Phase into its constituent skills. For each skill, we tried to match its descriptions at Outcomes 4, 5 and 6 with the corresponding descriptions in Levels 1, 2, and 3 of the National Curriculum. We found that the two languages, and Maths, connect seamlessly, allowing us to track a pupil’s progress skill-by-skill from Foundation Phase through to KS2. The other Areas also connect with KS2 after a little rearrangement—Physical Development being the most complex to describe.
In collaboration with Guy Claxton, author of ‘What’s the Point of School’ and originator of the ‘Building Learning Power’, we are developing an assessment framework for Learning and Thinking skills.
In our online system, teachers will be able track progress against the “4 R’s” (Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflection and Reciprocity) and “17 Learning Muscles” of Building Learning Power. The cross-curricular approach to developing the learning and thinking skills will help learners excel academically and deal with out-of-school challenges by expanding their capacity and appetite for real-life learning.
We aim to give learning and thinking skills the status they deserve within schools, alongside literacy and numeracy.
Becta expects all schools to make information available online to parents about their children’s progress. For secondary schools their deadline is September 2010 and for primary schools it is September 2012.
We’re currently developing a “parental portal” where parents can log in to see information on what progress is being made, what each learner’s next steps are and how a parent might be able to help. As well as being able to log on to this site in the typical way, parents would be able to access this information directly from the school’s Learning Platform.
Using our Incerts iPhone app, teachers with an iPhone or an iPod Touch will be able to record their assessments whenever they choose, wherever they choose. In class, for example, they could review assessment focuses to help ensure lessons are personalised.
School leaders will be able to see a live picture of attainment in the school and assessment trends in real-time. They’ll be able to email reports and spreadsheets directly from the system.
Parents will be able to access their “parental portal” and receive push notifications of updates.
School leaders work in a "high-accountability" environment and yet often have a love-hate relationship with data. We're innovating to make data more accessible; and also explaining where it may have limitations, in particular when it's used to rank schools.
Adopting an engineering approach, and aware of the arbitrary boundaries between sub-levels and the spurious precision of average point scores, we measure progress using fine-level tracking. Such data is more meaningful, more useful and can be visualised in compelling ways.
Combining what we've learned from Dylan Wiliam (author of 'Inside the Black Box') and David McCandless (author of 'Information is Beautiful') we're developing a series of visual interpretations of attainment and pupil progress, blurring the line between mathematics and art.