How to tell whether an external assessment system is right for your school

Written by: Progress and Assess | Published:
Pearson Primary’s Progress and Assess

Ever since the government announced the disbanding of National Curriculum levels, schools have been asking for support on what the government and Ofsted expect to see from a school assessment system.

In September the Department for Education responded with the ‘Final Report of the Commission on Assessment without Levels’. The questions below come directly from this expert report, and are designed to help school leaders question assessment tools they have adopted.

We’ve answered these questions for schools interested in the summative assessment provided in Pearson Primary’s Progress and Assess tools and resources. These tools provide a series of six weekly progress tests in reading, maths and science, as well as marking guidance. The online space allows you to generate reporting.

Q: What do the assessment tools support? Be clear on what type of assessment you are carrying out and the purpose of gathering any data.
Progress and Assess provides in-school summative assessment of where children are against age-related expectations in reading, maths and science. These expectations are driven by the 2014 National Curriculum objectives. The reporting gives a view of children’s progress against the National Curriculum standard and from their starting points. Reporting can be shared with parents, senior leaders and teachers.

Q: What is the quality of information provided?
Progress and Assess provides three layers of information: where children are against age-related expectations (below, working towards, at); how they are progressing over time in comparison to the class average and national standard; and what misconceptions children have. You can be confident in those judgements as they cover all of primary National Curriculum requirements for science, maths and reading. They also enable an understanding of what attainment might look like before the achievement of end-of-year expectations. This termly view has been developed by a panel of subject matter experts.

Q: How much time will it take teachers to record information from our tests?
For a class of thirty children it takes around 1 hour to mark the tests, and 5 minutes to input this data and generate a report.

Q: How frequently is it appropriate to collect and report this information?
Our maths and science summative tests are designed to check understanding at the end of a 6 weekly topic. Our reading tests can be ran either on a 6 weekly or 3 month basis.

Q: Does the product support the school’s policy on assessment? Assessment policy should include both summative and formative assessment. Summative assessment should support children and teacher’s understanding of how ‘well [they] have learnt a topic or course of work taught over a period of time’, as well as ‘the impact of their own teaching’. Formative assessment ‘should be an integral part of teaching and learning’.
Progress and Assess provides suggestions of children’s common misconception and guidance on how to address this in further teaching. Teachers can pinpoint specific skills, concepts and knowledge that children have not grasped using the Pearson Primary Progression Maps. The online reporting provides a clear view on whether children are at age-related expectations. If you use Progress and Assess as part of our reading (Bug Club), science (Science Bug) and maths (Abacus) programmes, you can access day-to-day formative assessment opportunities such as independent reading quizzes, observation suggestions for hands-on science activities and mental maths questions.

Q: How will it support the delivery of your school’s policy on assessment? Beware that the delivery of a new assessment policy can put extra strain on teachers’ workloads.
The Progress and Assess toolkit is designed to enable speedy implementation through:

  • Yearly maps that enable teachers to report back to parents and children on strengths and weaknesses
  • Reading tests for each bookband that allow all children to access the text.
  • Clear reporting that gives an instant view on whether children in a class or group are meeting age-related expectations.

Q: Is the assessment approach on which the product is based credible?
Our end-of-year objectives come directly from the National Curriculum. The age-related expectations were developed by a panel of experts in maths, reading and science (Dee Reid, Kate Ruttle and Ruth Merttens). We have provided this progression through our Progress Maps for teachers to scrutinise.

Q: Does the product give good value?
Progress and Assess tools are included in a subscription to our Bug Club, Science Bug or Abacus programmes. If not our prices for a whole-school start at £225. This provides you with summative reporting and tests on all children’s attainment and progress in reading, maths and science from years 1 to 6.

Q: Is it the best way to support delivery of your school’s assessment policy?
Only you will know the answer to this. But think about how both your summative and formative assessment tools enable children, parents and teachers to understand what areas of the curriculum children have mastered, and what areas they have to build on.

Further information

Progress and Assess is a new summative assessment toolkit from Pearson Primary. Find out more about how it might match your school assessment needs and try some free samples. You can also request a free demo in your school.

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