In the news this week, the Secretary of State for Education has announced that the current system of ‘levels’ used to report children’s attainment and progress is to go bye-bye, never to return in any shape or form.
The DfE states that, “We believe this system is complicated and difficult to understand, especially for parents. It also encourages teachers to focus on a pupil’s current level, rather than consider more broadly what the pupil can actually do. Prescribing a single detailed approach to assessment does not fit with the curriculum freedoms we are giving schools.”
This latest move has given schools a dilemma, possibly not a bad one though. This will allow schools the freedom to devise their own system of assessment. But is this necessarily a good thing? With no recognised form of assessment, it can be difficult for children to progress from primary to secondary with a clear record of their capabilities.
Plymouth University Lecturer Oliver Quinlan offers his take on his blog. He offers these opinions;
I would hope we are going to see schools examining in depth what is important in terms of assessing children’s learning, and finding ways to make this work for accountability and for ensuring progress. I would hope we see diversity; different settings looking at their intake and decided what assessment has impact on them. Children with low starting points in language might need assessing more intensively in this area, schools with other challenges may need to concentrate their assessment on addressing these.
We might see schools deciding that all assessment should be formative, and developing projects like Rosendale school’s ‘tagging learning’ project where children are given responsibility for documenting their learning.
We might see mainstream schools exploring the potential of truly ipsative assessment; tracking children’s progress based on their own previous performance rather than national standards, and something more well known in the education of children with significant special educational needs.
More of his ideas can be found here: http://www.oliverquinlan.com/blog/2013/06/14/levelling-off/
There is of course always the possibility that despite this eradication of levels, schools may decide to stick with the current system of assessment. With the use of sublevels, schools are able to constantly assess and track their children’s progress. Schools may not particularly enjoy the freedom of choice, although we should be the profession who knows what we’re doing, not the profession where we do as we’re told.
What ideas would you love to see implemented? Would you use a different system, or stick to what we have now?