How Do Teachers Assess Individual Progress And Attainment Education Essay

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Teachers assess individual progress and attainment by regular monitoring and recording of the skills which the pupil is able to demonstrate through assigned written and oral tasks and their interaction with others.

Evaluating the work of the child on a matrix of skills allows the teacher to observe the child's strengths and weaknesses over periods of time and therefore progress between these times for example by undertaking an APP assessment (Assessing Pupil Progress). This is a particularly valuable method of assessment as the skills matrix used by the APP assessments I have witnessed is the same as those skills specified by the National Standards.

The teacher can use this information, such as that provided by an APP assessment, to set meaningful curricular targets which are realistic and achievable for each individual, but will challenge and advance the child's knowledge/skill level. Effective tracking systems and ambitious target setting enable the pupils to achieve more in their education and facilitates their evolution within, and adaptability to the current environment. The identified targets can be communicated to the pupil to allow them to understand and develop their own skills.

The National Standards require every child to advance two sub levels over the year, and that level 2 should be reached by the end of key stage one and level 4 by the end of key stage two. In tandem with the National Standards progress requirements, the teacher can plan future learning activities within the context of the curriculum.

Whilst this process focuses teaching to pupils' needs, I think that value added should be taken into consideration as some children may not reach the levels that they "should" because of unforeseen circumstances, EAL or SEN. This takes into consideration the progress the child has made e.g. learning a whole new language, even though it might not be at the level the government states.

Effective assessment also provides useful information at transitional stages e.g. from KS1 to KS2 which can be used to formulate Individual Learning Plans.

Clearly, it is imperative that for assessment to be effective the teacher must understand the cyclical nature, aims, purposes and uses of the assessment and subsequently plan appropriately for and deliver the identified learning objectives.

 ·         What are the key purposes of a) formative and b) summative assessment? How are they used?      Q26a

There are different types of assessment which can be placed into one of two categories dependent upon their purpose, defined largely by the timing of their use i.e. Assessment for Learning (AFL) or Assessment of Learning (AOL). AFL is categorised as formative assessment and AOL is categorised as summative assessment.

The key purpose of formative assessment is the use of the feedback yielded from learning activities. This feedback should be utilised to adapt planning and teaching for future learning. Examples of formative assessment I have witnessed in use include: observation and journals/diaries. It is important to note that formative assessment is reliant upon the use of the uniform criterion for analysis of ability.

The success of formative assessment (guided by its purposes) is dependent upon: (i) delivering feedback in an appropriate nature to allow the learner to understand the quality of their work, and, (ii) the active involvement of the learner in the process of analysing success/failure.

Ergo, the ability of the teacher to develop and nurture positive relationships affects the teacher's ability to gain and retain the interest of pupils, and the effectiveness of the feedback process which has a profound impact on the motivation and self-esteem, especially when feedback identifies weaknesses/areas for improvement. The teacher must strive to involve the pupil in discussion of the success of, and level of achievement of, the learning objectives in a self-reflective process. As highlighted by the Assessment Reform Group (1999) and Black and Wiliam (1998b), another key factor for formative assessment is centred around the need for and ability of the pupil to assess themselves. In understanding how to improve (i.e. how to learn) formative assessment with the child's feedback allows pupils to have control over their own progress. This feedback can also be delivered to parents to inform and involve them in the learning process for their child.

At this stage the primary goal of formative assessment is reached. By the very existence, and nature of the feedback process it becomes possible to generate a plan from which further feedback is yielded. This also allows the teacher to understand his/her prediction of expected progress gained during a particular learning task, and again, use this information to plan for the next activity i.e. understand how the child learns (one of the ten principles of implementing AFL, Assessment Reform Group, 2002).

Summative assessment is an assessment of the learning undertaken. It can be used on a daily basis, at the end of each learning activity if necessary, with a view to making a decision about progress/understanding. Summative assessments may be isolated from day-to-day teaching and completed at one or more strategic times of year in a relatively formal manner or are less formal and are used to influence day-to-day teaching. In this way the use of the data generated by the test impacts upon the relative importance placed on the test and has an impact upon the learner (Hall et al, 2004). For example, head teachers and the board may place more emphasis on the value of term results whilst the class-teacher requires good results in daily tests to allow her to teach the next day's content effectively.

In this regard schools have system in places such as SIMS and DAISI which help schools find trends in their own data. The schools receive an assessment of their data in November called Raise Online from the Department of Education which uses the SATs data to demonstrate trends in schools. As school often require the data more often than once a year, they use SIMS and DAISI. SIMS advises the school how they are performing with consideration to national targets e.g. the system gives an easy colour coded print out which demonstrates progress pupil-by-pupil. DAISI is based on Local Authority data and gives information on requirements as a product of educational trends e.g. white boys need more help in English and that children of Chinese nationality are succeeding. This enables schools to recognise where they need to focus attention/provide booster groups and be able to ascertain why certain groups are doing well.

Furthermore, summative assessment may be used as a normative measure where the student is compared with his/her peers, or undertaken with reference to criterion to evaluate the student. 

For reasons explained above, understanding the abilities and capabilities of pupils informs the decisions on future teaching and the planning required by the teacher, especially if areas have been identified which need to be re-visited. This is especially useful if the group of pupils - and their abilities - are new to the teacher.

As summative assessment provides a statistical measure of performance, progress can be shared with others involved in the education of the child, including their parents. The statistics provided by summative assessments can be utilised to compile league tables which themselves are used to ensure that schools and their teachers are accountable for the teaching that they provide for the children in their care. In this way summative assessment of pupils can be viewed as summative assessment of the ability of the teacher to deliver the required content as notified by the curriculum.

To be effective, summative assessments must be presented clearly, be concrete and within the experience of the individual (Nuttall, 1987 in Arthur and Cremin, 2010).

Examples of summative assessments I have witnessed in use include: mock SATs tests and preparation for these, spelling tests, pop quizzes etc. Other examples of summative assessment include State-mandated testing (SATs), end of unit tests, end of term exams etc.

 ·         What assessment strategies are in place? (AFL, APP, benchmarking, tracking systems, peer and self-assessment etc.) Q12; Q26a

From my experience in school, I am aware of the following assessment strategies which are in place:

Self-assessment; children mark their own work/performance. This approach is used in the case of demonstrating whether they have understood, for example, the lesson objective.

Self-assessment gives the pupil the ability to take responsibility for their work, be able to set their own goals as independent learners and provide confidence in their abilities. These are valuable skills to possess for future learning and life. I have viewed this in the classroom when pupils compare self-check their answer on their white-board to the answer on the teacher's board.

To assess comprehension, 'Big Write' is utilised - pupils are asked to include content learned during the week in a (normally written) task. The final piece is marked by the teacher to see if the content is used in the correct manner e.g. not using the suffix '-ly' on the end of every word having been asked to include adverbs in their work.

Peer assessment: work is marked by a peer, as this improves working with others skills, and the feedback that is given by a peer is often received more positively than the teacher's feedback. I have seen this in the classroom when pupils have marked one another's sentences. With both self and peer assessment, a success criterion must be provided to be able to mark the work. In this way the marking process is itself an assessment strategy.

Class discussions allow children to voice their opinions and encourage co-operation, turn taking, listening and speaking skills. Equally they can demonstrate that all opinions are valid. I have seen the beginning of this development in class where the rules of group discussions are being delivered and the attempt to stop laughter at another's views.

By questioning in the correct way subject knowledge can be assessed; open questions at the start of the lesson (AFL) may guide the lesson, whilst closed questions may be used in plenaries to demonstrate understanding from pupils. It is imperative to allow pupils thinking time to give a considered answer, rather than their first thought. Asking key planned questions throughout the lesson will demonstrate to pupils that they are on the right track and gives confidence and generates interest. They also allow the teacher to understand whether they must review/recap issues to facilitate understanding before continuing.

Observation in the classroom allows the teacher to view the child acting naturally during an activity, perhaps providing a different perspective on their understanding when compared to their behaviours/answers when asked a question with the pressure of the whole class listening.

Assessing Pupil Progress (APP) allows the teacher to assess pupils' attainment in line with the National Standards. It allows the teacher to comprehend the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and groups of individuals, their progress over time and to plan for future delivery of the Curriculum.

Assessment for Learning (AFL) allows the children to be involved in their learning; they can comprehend what is expected of them with an appreciation of the 'we are learning to…' (WALT) and 'what I'm looking for' (WILF) objectives. Because learning is not always demonstrated through written work, assessment with a view to AFL focuses upon a pupil's ability to put their knowledge into speech.

There are a number of ways of obtaining evidence for assessments which do not require pupils to write, including, photos/videos during drama/group work, the children can record themselves using voice recorders or webcams on the computer to document descriptive writing, thoughts, ideas etc. Guided reading groups also offer the teacher an idea of the level children are working at through their ability to decode texts etc.

Furthermore opportunities are made available to speak in groups and pairs so that the understanding of language can be developed for their spoken and written language. During these activities continual monitoring of progress through observations is possible.

Many of the assessment strategies noted above from my observations in the classroom have a clear grounding in the ten principles of effective teaching and learning identified by the Assessment Reform Group, 2002. These principles state Assessment for learning should:

1.      Form part of an effective planning mechanism.

2.      Focus on how students learn.

3.      Be recognised as central to classroom practice.

4.      Be regarded as a key professional skill.

5.      Be sensitive to the emotional impact of assessment on the learner.

6.      Consider the importance of learner motivation.

7.      Promote commitment to learning goals and assessment criteria.

8.      Provide constructive guidance to identify how to improve.

9.      Encourage self-assessment through reflection.

10. Recognise the achievements of all learners.

(ARG. (2002). Assessment for Learning: 10 Principles. Available: http://www.assessment-reformgroup.org/images/ Principles%20for%20website.doc, last accessed December 2010)

 

Application of the ten principles in the classroom provides a focus on teaching to suit all, encouragement for pupil engagement and gives an awareness of the learning goals and how to work towards achieving them, ever more efficiently.

 ·         How do children know how well they are doing and what they need to do to improve?      Q27; Q28

The children in my class at Heathfield know what level they are working at because of the group they are in e.g. red group(are the level 2a/3cs), then decling through the colours orange, yellow, green till you get to blue group (who are working on Plevels). The children are aware that they do different work but they know that what they are doing is at the right work for them. The groups are regularly reviewed to make sure the children are being challenged at the right level for them. They also are aware how they are doing when they self asses and peer asses, they also have regular comments in their books e.g. 2 stars and a wish. This gives the pupil an idea about what they are doing well to carry on doing it, and what they could improve on.

 ·         What are the assessment requirements for the age ranges within school?      Q11

The national tests at the end of key stage 1 and the end of key stage 2 allow the teacher, school and parents to know if the pupils are achieving the national standard. The tests at the end of key stage one cover reading, writing (including handwriting and spelling) and maths. The tests at the end of key stage two cover English -reading, writing (including handwriting) and spelling, maths including mental arithmetic and science.

Assessments for key stage one children cover reading, writing, speaking and listening, maths and science. This is done a number of ways including using APP's, observations of children, self-assessments and spelling tests,.

Assessments for key stage two children cover English, maths and science. This is done in a number of ways including using APP's, observations, self-assessments, peer assessments and regular quizzes.

  ·         Discuss the links between assessment, planning and teaching.

 The assessment of children can often guide the planning e.g. SATs needing to plan/teach certain units/aspects of subjects for the aim of getting the children to past their SATs. After only having a small experience with year 61 on the supply before their SATs, I felt that other subjects had been put aside to make way for the tests and almost the enjoyment of learning had been forgotten about because of the pressures of getting every child to pass. The teacher was having to teach the children how to interpret and understand the questions in past papers, as the papers seemed similar to the ones that I took a long time ago. The curriculum and the way we are told to teach nowadays e.g. being active and practical, does not seem to match the way the children are tested. When I took my SATs it was more about writing and reading, sitting at your desk, working in silence which made the site is not that much different to other days at school.

 To be able to plan for the differentiation and the different learning styles the teacher needs to know the children and the best way to teach the different learning style to best bring about learning.

Assessment gives the teacher an idea of where the children are e.g. what they need to learn to progress and what they are able to do. This gives the teacher an idea of what areas need to be covered which will affect planning.

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