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Assessment is an essential part of teaching and learning in all subjects, and to be effective must be in a form that is 'fit for purpose'; suitable for what is to be achieved. The national curriculum attainment targets in science describe the knowledge, skills, and understanding that pupils working at a particular level should characteristically demonstrate. Using the work attached, I have attempted to make use of each piece to support my assessment of (the pupils?) level 3 attainment in science.
The three pieces of work attached are from SC1 (appendix 1), SC2 (appendix 1a), SC3 (appendix 1b) and SC4 (appendix 1c), and present evidence from pupils work towards AT1, AT2, AT3, and AT4 that demonstrates attainment of a secure level 4. Appendix 2 shows my own judgement of how their work meets criteria taken from the national curriculum level descriptors where the criteria met are highlighted, and Appendix 3 shows highlighted where these pieces of work also meet descriptors from the level 4 APP grid. Each section that is highlighted is where the child has demonstrated meeting those criteria.
Using the Work As An Indicator of Summative Attainment
These three pieces of work have been used to give an overall judgement of how the pupil is progressing against the national curriculum levels. The work demonstrates level 4 targets for AT1, AT2, AT3, and AT4 individually (Q11), but following advice (National Curriculum, 2011) I considered the 3 pieces as a single piece of work alongside descriptions for adjacent levels. Where the work does not enable me to highlight all the expectations in the level 4 description I have used the wording of the level to enable me to judge the 'best fit', therefore giving partial evidence of attainment (Q12). To provide a more confident, formal summative assessment I would need to collect more evidence covering the whole range of contexts especially AT2 and AT4 where many of the descriptor parts are not highlighted (Q11). As skills develop throughout the year during the period covered by the summative assessment I would give preference to evidence that showed their skills progress, independently and consistently within a range of contexts. Although summative assessment is a necessary component of the process of inquiry, because the assessment criteria inevitably involve a degree of interpretation this type of assessment serves to evaluate children understanding of content (Q12). Regular collaborative formative assessment is an important way of ensuring that assessment standards are reliable and consistent within progression of the learning, assessing children's skills (Q11).
How to Gather Regular Collaborative Assessment
To assess skills as well as content, assessment (especially in science) should not be limited or confined to written outcomes. Science teachers spend a great deal of time on written assessment but this does not necessarily mean that it is effective. (Ofsted, 2003) The evidence I have collected is all written work, but I have observed that the best evidence of scientific understanding is in recording observations of, discussions with, and the thought process of the children (Q26a). To communicate a scientific understanding through written assessment is harder for children due to the specific scientific vocabulary, so the least practical for assessing true understanding (Q14). I observed that application of a concept was generally discussed using accurate vocabulary and then simplified into their books. Future formal or informal assessment of progress and attainment can be based on a range of evidence as there is no statutory requirement for assessments to be explained in a particular format or to be supported by detailed collections of evidence for each pupil (National Curriculum 2011) (Q11). By using a variety of assessment opportunities, children with different (VAK) learning styles can be included and demonstrate their scientific skills without being hindered by written communication skills. (Q19, Q12) Appendix 4 is a format that I have used within class that could be used as evidence to show that the child can meet many more of the national curriculum level descriptors through discussion and careful questioning. Other forms of communication can enable the child to show deeper understanding and skills such as:
extended or shorter focused pieces of writing in a variety of different forms for a range of purposes
teacher-pupil interactions notated, and focused questioning or discussion recorded
text annotation or visual organisers such as thought mapping, storyboards or timelines
oral work such as pupil presentations to the class, contributions to class discussions, drama activities or discussions with teachers
TA assessment ("Post Its", observations recorded) (Q20, Q32/33)
involving pupils in the process through peer- or self-assessment. (Q26a, Q28)
However, the gathering of evidence also needs to be manageable for the teacher or TA and needs to align with the schools agreed policy.
Evidence for Summative and Formative Assessment Purposes
Careful planning of assessment opportunities and purpose can result in the same evidence being applicable for a variety of assessment purposes, both summative and formative (Q12). Using this work for formative assessment would inform my planning by identifying areas that are not highlighted within the summative assessment that will need to be revisited by the class or individual to secure understanding. I would also use the work to ensure my teaching and assessment opportunities cover the gaps revealed, as there is no evidence of achievement of AF2 from the APP grids (Appendix 3) (Q12, Q26b). For my formative assessment to have a useful formative purpose for the children research states they must know what they need to improve in order to raise their performance (Ofsted, 2003). This is why an important element of formative assessment is feedback, which offers children an opportunity to improve (Q27). The reinforcement of previously learned skills and inclusion of ample practice for new skills are incorporated within the feedback given and received following formative assessment (Just Science Now, 2011). However, the marking used by the teacher in this work (Appendix 1) does not provide individual feedback or targets, simply a tick/well done. A more effective use of the outcome would be to provide each child with an instant response - a specific and measurable improvement target for the pupil to continue or extend learning, annotated on each appendix 1a-c (Q28).
Research shows assessments should be formative (2011); occurring throughout the learning process (2011). With both formative and summative assessment, (QCDA, 2011) points out there is a need to consider how the purpose of assessment affects the frequency of assessment. For example, there should be sufficient time between level-related assessments to allow a pupil to show progress, whereas to be effective the assessment of on-going work should be embedded in day-to-day teaching and learning (Q22).
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