". . . the joy of true education: of reading for the sake of a wonderful book rather than for an exam; of following a subject because it is fascinating rather than because it is on the syllabus; of watching a great teacher's eyes light up for sheer love of the subject."
Professor Richard Dawkins
What is assessment?
Assessment is a judgement made on a child's performance, knowledge and understanding at a point in time. It does not tell us how intelligent a child is but gives us information on they achieved at particular criteria at a point in time. This data enables teachers to plan appropriate next steps for children and so better help them learn and acquire new concepts. Intelligence is far more complex, is not fixed but is subject to change over time and therefore is not something we test for in school.
With practice, training, and above all method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgement and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.
Binet and Simon - creators of the first IQ tests
We use our assessments to plan for, challenge and support each child so that they can enjoy learning and to achieve their best. Further information can be found in our policy for Assessment and Feedback including Marking and Reporting.
In school, the main purpose of assessment is for learning, not testing, to take place. There are two main types of assessment. Assessment for learning (or formative assessment) and assessment of learning (summative assessment).
Assessment for Learning
Teachers use a range of evidence from their questioning, observations of children and marking and evaluation of pupils' work to make a judgement of what children know, can do and understand. Using this information, the teacher can plan achievable and challenging next steps for learning. These informal assessments, take place throughout the school day, in every lesson and every subject. It is these assessments, not scores in a test, that make the most difference to children's learning and achievement.
Assessment of Learning
At points throughout the year we undertake summative assessment; tests or activities at the end of a unit or programme of study to check what pupils have learned and retained from teaching. Children have a termly reading assessments and Mathematics tests in class. These activities help teachers know where learning is secure and teaching has been effective and also where children would benefit from some additional revision or teaching where there have been gaps in learning. Children also have a Spring spelling test and verbal or non-verbal reasoning tests, giving us an idea of particular barriers or potential in specific areas.
At the end of the year, children's assessments are recorded for English and Mathematics against the age-related expectations for their year group. Some are below, some just below (not yet secure in all the objectives taught). Most children should have mastered the age-related expectation (a secure achievement in all the objectives) and some will have achieved the age-related expectation at greater depth. National expectations for English and Mathematics are set out in the National Curriculum for England 2014.
At the end of Reception, Year 2 and 6 children undergo statutory assessment for the end of the Key Stage.
Children in Year 1 sit a Phonics Screening Check with a further check in year 2 for any who have not met the required standard in the test. From 2020 children in Year 4 will sit a Multiplication Tables Check to assess fluency with all multiplication tables up to 12x12.
This is the EYFS profile in Reception, a summative judgement made from teachers' ongoing assessment throughout the year.
At the end of Key Stage 1, in Year 2, teachers' assessment is reported with Reading and Mathematics SATS tests used to support their professional judgements. There is also an optional test in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Teachers use a range of evidence in addition to the test: pupils' work in their books, their oral contributions to lessons and practical work. Teachers' assessments are recorded as working towards the standard, expected standard or greater depth standard.
At the end of Key Stage 2 pupils in year 6 children sit tests in Reading, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar, Arithmetic and Mathematics. For the older children it is the test result and not the teachers' assessment from pupils' class work that is reported. In Year 6 children's results are reported as a scaled score of between 80-120 with 100 being the 'expected standard' and 110 or more being 'the expected standard at greater depth.'
Writing and Science in Key Stage 1 and 2 are assessed by teachers against national criteria for age-related expectations. It is reported as working towards the standard, expected standard or expected standard at greater depth.
Teacher assessment of Science and Foundation subjects is undertaken at the end of a unit by teachers. This is a best fit as to where children have achieved against objectives in the unit of study, whether they have not yet met, met or exceeded the learning objectives planned for. There are no national expectations by year group set out in the National Curriculum and the assessment is against the school's expectations.
More Than a Score
National tests certainly have their value and we expect children to do their best and work hard for them, as in all their learning. However it is important to remember that there is so much more to children and the many ways they can achieve and so very much more to learning, the curriculum and assessment in school than Year 2 and 6 tests in Reading, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar and Mathematics.