Assessment Principles and Framework
“Great assessment is not a single thing.
It is a collection of tools brought together in a toolkit,
and used artfully by teachers.
Great assessment is the servant of learning,
not its master.” Prof Stuart Kime
We believe that all pupils should have the very best education we can provide so that they are empowered to learn and achieve. High quality assessment is at the heart of the curriculum and pedagogy in our schools. Assessment is a vital element of the learning process because it enables teachers to check whether pupils understand and remember the content they have been taught.
We have set out Trust Assessment Principles and Framework that aligns the work of the schools and ensures a consistent approach to providing accurate and robust assessments of all pupils. What follows is a high-level summary of the Principles. More detail can be found in our Trust ‘Assessment Principles and Framework’ document, available on request by contacting us.
Formative (Diagnostic) Assessment
Formative assessment is at the heart of high-quality responsive teaching in all of our schools across the Trust and as such is core feature of the Trust Teaching & Learning Model. Whilst formative assessment can take many forms and the specific techniques utilised may vary from school to school, there is shared understanding and common principles which underpin it.
Formative assessment is diagnostic, insightful and productive: it provides an insight into pupils’ thinking, knowledge, learning and informs useful next steps. The best formative assessment is immediate; it provides granular, tailored and actionable feedback and requires a response from pupils.
Each school is required to have their own Assessment and Feedback Policy that sets out the school’s approach to formative assessment. This should reflect the Trust’s definition of formative assessment and include the following principles:
- Assessments should be focused on checking whether pupils know more, remember more and understand more of important curriculum content;
- Assessment needs to relate to the curriculum ‘map’, strategically challenging pupils to recall and strengthen the right pieces of learning and understanding;
- Pupils with gaps in their knowledge or misconceptions must be helped to catch up – in the first instance by the classroom teacher;
- Teachers should use assessments to adjust and adapt teaching strategies;
- Feedback to pupils should be personalised and tailored to challenge each pupil and enable them to recognise standards to aim for and to understand what they need to do to improve their learning and make progress;
- Assessment must not be too onerous for teachers – it should be purposeful and focused on helping pupils to improve their knowledge and understanding of a subject;
- Different forms of assessment and feedback may be required for different subjects or different types of knowledge.
Summative (Evaluative) Assessment
Rather than being immediate, summative assessment provides a delayed response. It tells us how well pupils are doing and whether or not pupils are progressing in the way that should be – it is evaluative. As such it is important that summative assessments should only take place at intervals when such assessment can be valuable and purposeful. On the one hand we need to assess pupils regularly enough to collect data that informs school or Trust priorities. On the other hand, it is important that summative assessment is not over-used, as this can lead to assessments driving the delivery of the curriculum (‘teaching to the test’).
Therefore, schools within our Trust will conduct summative assessments:
- In line with the Trust’s Assessment Schedule;
- Using a combination of test and teacher assessment;
- Using a range of end of unit assessments (e.g. White Rose Maths or POP tasks) to check for progress and understanding. These assessments also identify gaps in knowledge and inform future responsive planning;
- Twice a year, schools carry out summative assessments of progress in a whole subject – typically, this will be mid-point in the academic year (end January/beginning Feb) and at the endpoint of the year (May/June) schools. Having fewer assessment points makes it easier to converge where the curriculum may be taught in a slightly different order in different schools. It also means that pupils will have had time to improve between tests;
- Using the same standardised tests / past SATs papers (primary schools) for Reading, GPS and Maths in Y2 to Y6, conducted in a more formal environment (appropriate to the age of the pupils). This enables powerful comparison of results across schools, for example identifying common curriculum gaps or misconceptions, leading to targeted, collaborative work or sharing of best practice to support the teaching of these aspects.