What is ‘Assessment Without Levels’ and what does this mean to my child?
From September 2015, the Government has made a huge change in the way which children in schools are to be assessed. This is to tie in with the New National Curriculum from September 2014. This is a new way of thinking for schools, and assessment will look very different to how it has done for the past 20 years. The aim of this guide is to hopefully give you some clear information about all the changes that are happening in Education across the country, and what that means for the children here at Carbeile Junior School. Before we even think about assessment we need to be clear on what changes the new curriculum has brought to subjects which are traditionally assessed.
So, what are the changes to the curriculum? It would take far too long to cover the whole curriculum, particularly in any great depth. But the main changes to the key core subjects are highlighted below.
English – The new programme of study for English is knowledge-based; this means its focus is on knowing facts rather than developing skills and understanding. It is also characterised by an increased emphasis on the technical aspects of language and less emphasis on the creative aspects. English is set out year by year in Key Stage 1 (year 1 and 2) and two-yearly in Key Stage 2 (years 3,4,5 and 6). Parent letters and home learning give specific content to be covered in the areas of spelling and vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. These are set out regularly across both key stages.
Mathematics – The main areas in the new programme of study for mathematics are called domains. These are number, measurement, geometry, statistics, ratio and proportion and algebra. Two of these, number and geometry, are further divided into subdomains. The way that the curriculum is organised varies across the primary age range – every year group will teach specific aspects. There is no longer a separate strand of objectives related to using and applying mathematics. Instead, there are problem-solving objectives within the other areas of study. Most of the changes to the mathematics curriculum involve content being brought down to earlier years, therefore making the learning in each year significantly more challenging.
The End of Curriculum Levels
The Department for Education (DfE) has decided that the children who are currently in Years 2 and 6 will be the last pupils to be awarded a level in their end of Key Stage tests (Summer 2015).
So why are levels disappearing?
The DfE want to avoid what has been termed ‘The Level Race’ where children have moved through the old National Curriculum levels quickly to achieve higher attainment. The old National Curriculum was sub-divided into levels, but these were not linked to your child’s National Curriculum year group. For example, a child in Year 4 could be a Level 3 or even a level 5. Children were achieving Level 5 and 6 at the end of Key Stage 2, but the DfE thought that a significant number were able to achieve a Level 5 or 6 in a test—but were not secure at that level (Level 6 is GSCE level). The feeling from the DfE was that the old National Curriculum and the levels system failed to adequately ensure that children had a breadth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level.
Assessing Without Levels
At Carbeile we have adopted an assessment system that reflects our everyday planning, lesson delivery and task choice by the children. It is a ‘Point in Time’ assessment where teachers will make a judgement about the children in their class about where they are in relation to Age Related Expectations (ARE). This is explicitly linked to our Bronze, Silver, Gold task system that is planned into every lesson. There fore, using the Bronze, Silver, Gold system plus teacher judgement and any test results as a guide, this is the way we will assess and judge your children and is how it will be reported to you:
Working Securely at ARE: Those children who do the Silver activity in class independently.
Working at ARE, With Support: Those children who do the Silver activity in class with support from the teacher or TA.
Working Below ARE: Those children who do the Bronze activity in class independently.
Working Well Below ARE: Those children who cannot do the Bronze activity in class independently and will therefore have an ILP (individual Learning Plan).
Working at Greater Depth Within ARE: Those children who do the Gold activity in class independently.
Working Above ARE: Those children who do the Challenge activity in class independently and might require an ILP to extend their learning further.
During the year, in reports and in Parents’ Evenings, you will be told where your child is on this scale and what is being done to aid them to move further up it, if this is a likely scenario.
We hope that you find this guide useful to help you understand why assessment has changed and how assessment has changed. As usual, please contact your child’s teacher should you have any queries.