The purpose of assessment at Netherwood Academy is to understand the progress all students are making in order to adapt teaching and respond to their needs as learners.
Through our assessment system we will be able to answer three key questions:
- What do pupils know/can do and what don’t they know/can’t do yet?)
- Are pupils making good progress?
- Are pupils performing at a level that will keep them on track to achieve their GCSE target?
If we have high expectations and aspirations for all of our pupils and are able, at any point, to answer the first question, we can be responsive to the needs of our pupils and ensure they have the knowledge, skills and opportunities to practice. If we do this well, pupils will make good progress and achieve their potential in their GCSE examinations.
Each curriculum area is responsible for developing a curriculum that, as a minimum, meets the requirements of the national curriculum and exam board specifications and clearly identifies specific components of learning. These components may include a combination of substantive and second order knowledge and concepts, processes and skills.
All pupils in Year 7 will receive a target for each subject they may sit at GCSE level. These targets are expressed using the GCSE 9-1 grading system. These targets are based on their KS2 performance and baseline assessments in the form of an aptitude test sat in Year 7 and Year 9. All targets are aspirational.
School targets will be shared with pupils and their parents. However, a pupil’s progress will not be reported using the GCSE grades. GCSE grades (9-1) are awarded at the age of 16 and are based on a pupil’s performance in one or more national standardised examinations. As such, it is not possible to indicate with any accuracy how pupils are performing against this standard until they have covered the GCSE syllabus and are ready to sit examinations that closely mirror the conditions of a GCSE paper.
The most valuable indicator of pupil progress is their grasp of the curriculum at that point in the year – what they know/can do or don’t know/can’t do yet. As teachers, this is our main focus. By understanding where each pupil is at, we can adjust our teaching to ensure we help pupils close the gaps in their knowledge and overcome the specific challenges that are holding them back. If we do this well, all pupils will make good progress and achieve their potential.
Pupil’s grasp of the curriculum is assessed and assigned to one of the following six mastery descriptors. Teachers will use ongoing formative assessments and performance in summative tests, along with their own professional judgement, to assign pupils to one of these descriptors at each data collection point.
We can then match each GCSE target grade to the most appropriate descriptor. As GCSE examinations are a proxy for the understanding of a subject domain we can expect pupils who perform at each grade to fit with the corresponding descriptor below. For example, a pupil that consistently demonstrates they have a secure grasp of all the curriculum is highly likely to achieve a grade 8 or 9 in their GCSE examination. These descriptors are designed to provide a consistent approach across all subjects, although each curriculum area should use their own methods and systems to identify the best fit for each pupil they teach.
||Curriculum Mastery Descriptor
||Has consistently shown that s/he has a secure grasp of all of the curriculum at this stage.
||Has consistently shown that s/he has a secure grasp of almost all of the curriculum at this stage.
Their work has shown an extremely good grasp of the curriculum at this stage but has done so inconsistently.
||Has consistently shown that s/he has a secure grasp of most of the curriculum expected at this stage.
Their work has shown a good grasp of almost all of the curriculum at this stage but has done so inconsistently.
||Has consistently shown that s/he has a secure grasp of some of the curriculum expected at this stage.
Their work has shown a good grasp of most of the curriculum expected at this stage but has done so inconsistently.
||Their work has shown a good grasp of almost all of the curriculum at this stage but has done so inconsistently.
||Because of extended absence, failure to submit work or both, this pupil’s teacher has not been able to make an accurate judgement about their achievement.
Using this system we are able to assess the progress of each pupil and gain an understanding of their current achievement against their GCSE target. To measure and report pupil progress we use the following categories to award a ‘working at’ grade:
Above Target (AT)
On Target (OT)
Below target (BT)
Well Below Target (WB)
If pupil are working within a descriptor that fits their target grade then we can assert that this pupil is ‘on target’. If they are working within a descriptor that is above their target grade then they will be ‘above target’ and if they are working within a descriptor below their target grade then they will either be ‘below target’ or well below target’. ‘Unclassified’ will apply to any pupil no matter what their target grade if they fit the bottom descriptor.
Awarding a ‘working at’ grade within a level
Once the most appropriate descriptor has been identified it may then be necessary to identify whether a pupil is working at the top or bottom of that descriptor in order to award the relevant ‘working at grade’ (this is not necessary if a pupil fits the 2nd descriptor). In order to do this, teachers should use the formative scores they have collected in their mark books and the performance taken from summative assessments, along with their professional judgement, to make a decision. The key to successfully assigning pupil to the descriptor that best fits their current attainment is regular use of formative tools during lessons and moderation across departments.
All subjects will assign formative tools to these components in order to assess what pupils know (or can do). These formative tools are planned alongside the curriculum and may include quizzes, tests, problem-solving tasks, short or extended pieces of writing, performances, discussions or simply observation of a practical skill. The results of these formative tools will be recorded in teacher’s mark books. These formative tools will primarily be used to answer: where are our pupils at? – what do they know / what don’t they know yet? Formative tools should be a regular feature of lessons and frequently revisited to support spaced practice and memory retrieval.
Pupils will complete three summative assessments each year. The third being a terminal examination at the end of the academic year sat in formal exam conditions to give pupils experience of examination conditions. Some subjects may opt to add additional summative assessments if they deem them to be necessary and useful in a formative capacity to support learning. All summative assessments must be:
- Cumulative – build on prior learning and not modular.
- Designed to accommodate the ability range – e.g. what questions should a pupil in targeted a grade 4 get right? which questions are targeted at the most able.
- Scaled (80-120) – allowing us to compare each pupil’s performance against the cohort and assess the quality of the test. Summative assessments in the form of a mock examination may be awarded a GCSE grade in years 10 and 11.
Summative assessments are a performance at a moment in time. However, they can help us answer our second question: Are pupils making good progress?
Teachers will review summative assessments in order to make a professional judgement on the progress pupils have made:
- From their starting point (this year or a previous year) – Have they demonstrated knowledge or skills that they did not in prior assessments?
- From the last summative assessment – Have they acquired the new knowledge and skills they have recently been taught?
- Have they got better at the old stuff?
- Have they learnt the new stuff?
Reporting to Parents
Teachers will use day-to-day formative tools and regular summative assessments in order to identify a ‘working at grade’ for each pupil in years 7-11 and a summative scaled score for the most recent summative assessment. In Years 10 and 11 the performance in summative assessments may be reported as a GCSE grade if the assessment matched the GCSE criteria (e.g. a past GCSE exam paper).
We will also report a behaviour for learning score (see guide to BfL at Netherwood), attendance and reading age and give pupils clear and specific guidance on what they need to do to improve.
This assessment system is designed to support teaching and learning, help teachers understand where pupils are at and if they are making progress against the curriculum objectives.
Staff will therefore report as follows:
Year 7 to 9
- A summative % score for assessment pieces
- A summative grade to show their ‘working at’
- A comment that says if they are on, above or below target
- A behavior for learning code
Year 10 and 11
- A summative % score for assessment pieces
- A summative grade to show their ‘working at’ A predicted GCSE grade showing what the pupils are expected to achieve in their GCSE if they continue to work as they are
- A behavior for learning code