Until quite recently, schools assessed children using 'National Curriculum Levels'. This was a standardised, national system. However, it has changed. Schools across the country have moved to something called, 'Assessment Without Levels'. The government has recently produced a report on this new system, outlining its rationale and the ways in which it is to be used. If you want to read it, click here. The new system is more open than the previous one. Schools are freer to develop their own assessment systems. Read on to find out what we do at Portobello Primary.
Assessment comes in two basic forms. Formative assessment is ongoing. We use it all the time to assess where children are in the curriculum. We use it to help us and children decide what their next steps in learning are, so we can teach to these. Summative assessment is about gaining a snapshot of children's current skills and knowledge. It is generally used to judge the effectiveness of teaching and learning at schools.
At Portobello Primary, we use a formative assessment system called, Target Tracker. It enables us to track pupils' progress against the National Curriculum, identify gaps in their skills and knowledge, and teach to these. We use it to build a portfolio of each child over time. It feeds directly into the teaching and extra-support we offer children. The focus is on ensuring that every child masters the full curriculum each year, as deeply as possible. Below you can download a series of Target Tracker Assessment sheets. These are essentially a rephrasing of the curriculum for each year group. During the year, we assess children against all these statements and determine whether their knowledge and understanding in each area is secure. We identify the gaps in pupils' understanding and teach to these. We also identify strengths and deepen pupils' understanding in these areas.
Towards the end of every term, we give tests to children in Years 1-6, in reading, writing and maths. We use these as a benchmark, to ensure that the judgements we are making about children's abilities in Target Tracker are accurate. Our teachers meet with their phase Leader and look at the tests and work in books to help us ensure this accuracy. We also moderate our judgements on a regular basis with other schools, in a process organised by the borough. Over the last two years our judgements of children's abilities were inspected by the borough for both Key Stage 1 and 2. Last year we were given the top, 'enhanced' grade in these inspections.
After testing children, we run 'Pupil Progress Meetings', in which senior school managers, teachers and teaching assistants discuss the progress and learning needs of every pupil, and agree actions we need to take to ensure all our children thrive as learners. We also hold parents' evenings at this point in each term, so we can share our assessment judgements with parents and carers.
Summative assessment takes place in Year 1, 2 and 6, when children sit nationally set tests, commonly known as SATS. In year 1, pupils take a phonics test. In year 2 and Year 6, they are tested in reading, maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling. Writing is also assessed, by looking at a range of pupil's written work. We report the outcomes of these tests to parents. The results we get are used to judge the effectiveness of teaching and learning at our school.
SATS tests changed significantly in 2016, to align with the fact that levels are no longer being used. Children will get a score for their test. There will be a national standard score of 100. Children achieving this will be judged to have mastered the curriculum and be fully ready for the next stage of their education. To watch a DfE video about these tests, click here. To read more about them, find out how results will be reported and see some sample tests, click here.