Assessment for Learning — AfL (Formative Assessment)
At Shaw Primary School, we use formative assessment on a daily basis to inform and direct our teaching. We define formative assessment as any assessment or feedback that celebrates children’s successes and directs them to the next steps in their learning.
Informed and targeted planning is central to good AfL. We have carefully mapped the sequence of our curriculum across each year group and use this to track progress towards end of key stage milestones. Progress along this track is noted three times per year on a whole school tracking system called Pupil Asset. These judgements are made at the result of ongoing AfL and the next element of assessment — summative assessment.
Summative Assessment (Internal Tracking, Tests, and Checks)
Summative assessment is concerned with marks, grades, percentages, and how much of the curriculum an individual child has learned. On a daily basis, this may be marks on a spelling or maths test or the level in a reading scheme.
Pupil Asset allows us to check the progress of each child and make a professional judgment on whether they are on track to meet the end-of-year expectations for that year group. It also enables us to compare the attainment and progress of certain groups with the class or school in relation to their peers. This may include boys vs girls, children with SEN, or pupil who attract pupil premium funding.
We believe that summative assessment is most useful when it is used to raise questions, such as; “Which areas of maths does this test result show to be a weakness or strength for this child/group/class?” This then allows for the formative use of summative data.
Statutory Assessment (Government Accountability Tests)
Statutory assessment refers to any test of check which is administered by law. These include foundation stage assessments, the year 1 and 2 phonics check, and assessments at the end of year 2 and year 6. These measures have been temporarily removed as a result of Corona Virus Lockdowns in both 2020 and 2021.
This data is used as accountability measures to compare schools across the country. Following the recent national changes to assessment, these tests and checks are almost all characterised by being “pass or fail” tests, with a set mark indicating that a child has met the standard. Children can therefore meet or miss the standard by a single mark. These tests and checks have very little value on a formative level.
There is a danger that, due to pressures of accountability, schools may focus too much on the narrow range of skills that are assessed in such tests. While we agree that basic skills are vitally important, at Shaw we strive to avoid a narrow curriculum by weaving these skills into a broad and balanced curriculum with lots of first-hand experience, visits, and engaging topic work.