Assessments are an ever increasing part of a student’s life. The purposes of Assessment are numerous but certainly in terms of Ofsted, one of the main objectives is to assess progress; progress in terms of what has been achieved up to that point and progress in terms of future attainment expectations.
In my experience however, it seems that not all but a large proportion of pupils are not aware of the progress their school is expecting them to make or even the level they are currently at in a particular subject?
Schools and teachers work very hard to involve students in assessment. Marking is more skillful and detailed than ever, with feedback and strategies for areas of improvement being a major focus. Teachers understand what assessment can do for students so why are students not connecting more?
The teacher’s view
One teacher I recently spoke to about students’ connection with assessments said that their students see assessment, and all that goes with it, as something the school does to them and not anything over which they have much input or control. She described it as the school’s ‘Secret Garden’.
The parent’s view
When I asked a group of parents if they were aware that there are national expectations about the progress their children should be making, most of were not. They had no idea that there are expectations of what their children should get at GCSE based on how they did in tests at the end of their Primary education. I showed these parents a graph based on the 18 points of progress, showing what level their child is currently working at and what this means they should achieve at the end of their secondary education. They were instantly engrossed with knowing how their children were doing in relation to this.
The students’ view
A similar thing happened when I was with some Year 10 students discussing how well they might do in their GCSEs based on their current performance. I showed them a programme which provides a visual representation of the expected trajectory if they work a little bit harder and achieved grades a little higher than their current once.
It might sound obvious that achieving better grades throughout school would improve your overall expected GCSE attainment but the graph suddenly made this idea very real to the students. There seems to be something very powerful about ‘seeing’ what the possibilities could be.
The more we all understand the rules of the game, the better we play!
So, the question is: how can we get students and their parents to have more understanding of the assessment system and get more involved with it?
I think we need to think of new ways of doing this and technology can play a big part.
Students and parents can be given 24/7 access to their assessments and progress.
Things can be made very visual which is often time and brain friendly for those children and adults who find the numbers and words associated with assessments hard to grasp.
They can hypothesize about how things could be different- a practice which can be very motivating for some.
All of a sudden a conversation is started.