The aim of this post is to challenge and provoke thinking about what quality assessment really looks like. Currently, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding assessment in education and it has always been a highly charged and debated topic among academics and teachers. This post should help identify the limitations of levels and, hence, why they have been removed from the new curriculum. Furthermore, the power of student led assessment and critiquing will be highlighted and why this needs to be developed across far more schools in England.
One of the biggest changes in the new National Curriculum is the removal of levels and what this means for future assessment. Watch Tim Oates, chair of the expert panel which informed the review of the national curriculum 2010 to 2013, talk about the purpose of changes to assessment in the new curriculum and rationale behind moving away from levels.
Although having been teaching and researching passionately for many years, Ron Berger’s outstanding findings on student led assessment has only recently become more widespread as a result of his video entitled ‘Austin’s butterfly’. It does not matter if you have seen this video before, as it inspires every time. Watch and wonder.
The video illustrates the power of Assessment for Learning (AfL), specifically feedback and the use of success criteria (although Ron uses the term ‘critique’ to include all the elements of effective AfL). Furthermore, Ron’s most recent book entitled ‘Leaders of their own learning: Transforming schools through student-engaged assessment’ is an excellent read and another investment worth making.
Amazon.co.uk describes the book as follows: ‘From Expeditionary Learning Schools comes a proven approach to student assessment Leaders of Their Own Learning offers a new way of thinking about assessment based on the celebrated work of Expeditionary Learning Schools across the country. Student–Engaged Assessment is not a single practice but an approach to teaching and learning that equips and compels students to understand goals for their learning and growth, track their progress toward those goals, and take responsibility for reaching them. This requires a set of interrelated strategies and structures and a whole–school culture in which students are given the respect and responsibility to be meaningfully engaged in their own learning. It includes everything teachers and school leaders need to implement a successful Student–Engaged Assessment system in their schools. It outlines the practices that will engage students in making academic progress, improve achievement, and involve families and communities in the life of the school.
Assessment continues to be an ongoing struggle for many teachers, often causing much anxiety. With the theory and rationale behind the abolition of levels explained by Tim Oates and the inspiring work of Ron Berger and his colleagues, it is an exciting time to be a teacher and be able to develop a child-engaged assessment system that is grounded in the principles of AfL and tailored to the school, children and teacher’s setting.