St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School
Assessment Without Levels 2015
From this September, the Government has made a huge change in the way that children in schools are to be assessed. This is to tie in with the New National Curriculum that started to be used by all schools at the beginning of last Academic Year. 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 St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School. Before we even think about assessment, we need to be clear on what changes the new curriculum has brought to subjects that are traditionally assessed.
National Curriculum 2014
Although the new curriculum is intended to be more challenging, the content is actually slimmer than the old National Curriculum, focusing on essential core subject knowledge and skills such as essay writing and computer programming. The main focus of the national curriculum is on excellence and core skills.
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 listed in the ‘Parents Booklets’ below.
The End of Curriculum Levels
The Department for Education (DfE) has decided that the children who are currently in 6 will be the first pupils to be awarded a score without levels for their End of Key Stage Tests – SATs.
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 their 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. 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
The DfE announced last year that there would no longer be National Curriculum levels and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils. We have spent a long time researching various different methods of assessing pupils, and we have decided to create our own system of assessment using both written tests and teacher assessment against the learning objectives for each year group. Every child will then be assessed against the end of year expectations for each year group and will be grouped as working under one of the following three categories:
· Emerging— Yet to be secure in the end of year expectations.
· Expected—Secure in the end of year expectations.
· Exceeding—Secure in all of the end of year expectations and is able to use and apply their knowledge and skills confidently.
Under the old levels system, children who were exceeding might have moved into the next level. The DfE now want children who are in the exceeding bracket to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop their using and applying skills. They are calling this phase of learning Mastery and Depth. Only exceptional children will move into working towards the end of year expectations from the year above. Similarly, children who are unlikely to be emerging at the end of the year may work towards the expectations from the year below. So how will this look at the end of each Key Stage?
Key Stage 2
Lots of you may have heard of the expression ‘Secondary Ready’ as the standard children must achieve by the end of Year 6. The DfE have slightly distanced themselves from this phrase and are talking about children reaching the assessment point of Year 6 expected. Similar to Year 2 there will be some children who may be Year 6 exceeding and some children who are Year 6 emerging. There may also be a small number of children who are still working at a lower level e.g. Year 4/5 exceeding/expected/emerging.
How can you help?
Work with your child to ensure that their weekly homework is completed and handed in on time.
Spend time, at home, practising weekly spellings with your child.
If your child does not know their times tables, this would be a great starting point at home. As soon as a child knows their times tables up to 12 x 12, they will be able to apply this knowledge to a range of mathematical problems.
Please see our ‘Learning Zone’ for a list of the websites and APPs that are suggested, by the teachers of St Margaret Mary’s, for you to use at home.
Assessing Without Levels – What it means to you and your child.
The biggest difference is how we will talk to you about how your child is progressing during the year. With the old National Curriculum levels, each year children were given a target for the end of the year, and during the year we would tell you what National Curriculum level your child was at.
For Example: A child could finish Year 3 with a level 3a, and in Year 4 would have a target of a 4b for the end of the year. At Parent’s Evenings throughout the year you may be told that they have moved to a 4c and then on to a 4b.
We could use the levels system this way because there was no correlation between a level and a child’s year group, and this can be seen in the way that in a Year 6 class there could be a range of levels, from level 2 to a level 6. However, the new National Curriculum sets out expectations for each year group and children will be assessed against those every year, so a child in Year 4 will always be judged in the first instance against the expectations for the end of Year 4.
So how will the process in school work?
In each Autumn term, by October/November the teachers will have had an opportunity to assess how the children are working. At the start of each year group, every child will be emerging as they are being judged against the End of Year statements. By using their professional knowledge and judgement, teachers will know what the children can already do and what they think the children can achieve. They will then give a forecast as to where they think a child will be by the end of the Year.
Only very exceptional children will have a forecast from a higher or lower year group. As far as we are aware, Year 6 Exceeding is likely to be the highest grading for the end of Key Stage 2.
We hope that you find this guide useful to help you understand why and how assessment has changed at St Margaret Mary’s.