Refining assessment

Refining assessment

I have been interested and invested in assessment for as long as I have been a teacher, initially as part of the “assessment, marking and feedback” debate that encircles pedagogical practice through to debates around national data.

The tendrils of assessment are vast; the purpose of assessment, how to constructive assessment, reliability and validity, moderation and standardisation practice. Curriculum planning and the balance of teaching and assessment, marking-feedback cycles, the role of meta-cognition, the role of students in assessment, whether gap analysis by teachers has value. Forms of assessment, (long form, short form, MCQs, comparative analysis, evidence based, verbal. assessment cycles and of course retrieval practice. Building momentum and motivation through assessment (success-motivation-success). More recently reviewing assessment as learning, pre-testing and retrieval practice within a lesson cycle and test expectancy. Spacing, interleaving, the use of Anki app and the development of RemenberMore.

Moving into school leadership only deepened my interest, the leadership of teaching, the leadership of assessment (quality assurance) and reporting and the impact upon staff workloads. The use of standardised testing, prior attainment, target grades, class and year group forecasts. As part of school improvement, school priorities and targeting support and intervention. Assessment validity and reliability (forecasts and predictions), moderation and standardisation practice and comparability at a whole-school level, across a MAT or groups of school, government level, accountability and performance measures. I am also interested in global comparisons, OECD and PISA – when there is time and space to think about such things. And by no means last, the unintended consequences of performance measures.

Assessment as part of reporting and servicing parents with information with which they can support their child’s learning remains a professional interest. Recent presentations from Dr Becky Allen and conversations with Matthew Benyohai on whole-school standardised assessment, has got me thinking very hard about how, what and when we assess and what we report. What is more, on Question Level Analysis (QLA) Matthew and I have different views and that is fertile ground for debate. It is good to discuss differing opinions, in my humble opinion, it’s more fertile that discussing shared opinions.

Back in 2016 I was introduced to Peter Atherton’s (@dataeducator) excellent Exam Feedback Tool #EFT. It is available for you to use too.

Following extensive trials in 2016, in various curriculum areas, we started to explore how the #EFT could be used to investigate not only QLA but also class level analysis and teacher effectiveness and to assess the impact of remedial interventions. Since then we have gone on to develop the #EFT to include automatically generated targets within the personalised pupil feedback sheets, directing their actions. It is these metacognitive aspects of using the tool, identifying strengths and prioritising areas for improvement, that lead to outcome improvements for students and their active requests for feedback.

You can review our 18 month investigation and conclusions here.

Exam Feedback Tool 12 months on

Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.

Clifford Stoll

Of course, you know that already and it is how you use the #eft that makes it powerful – link here.

Then as Headteacher with the Focus Learning Trust we curating a centralised assessment model across 23 Campuses.