Ralph Allen School – In-school assessments
The purpose of assessment is to make teaching and learning as effective as possible.
- Assessments should be transparent and clear.
- Assessment has a “formative” purpose which is to ensure that teaching is clearly targeted and that any shortcomings in learning are identified and remedied. It also should provide encouragement to students and encourage a “growth” mindset.
- Assessment also has a “summative” purpose which is to inform students and their parents about the progress that each student is making.
Targets and setting:
- The setting of aspirational targets is part of the ethos of the school but such targets must not become labels that will impair students’ progress; they will however allow for students’ progress to be measured.
- A range of baseline data on individual pupils (e.g. Cognitive Ability Test scores, Key Stage 2 test results, GCSE grades and FFT D projections), together with curriculum teams’ own internal baseline testing, will form the basis for targets that are set for individual students and classes.
- These targets need to be in place by the end of term 1 of the academic year.
- Students in Year 7 should not be told what their target should be (in line with the recommendations of the Life without labels working party), but encouraged to be as ambitious as possible in all subjects.
- All teams will keep assessment records either within Assessment Manager or using their own spreadsheets.
- Every student will be given a formal assessment twice a year which will be recorded in Assessment Manager, together with attitudinal measures, which will be sent home as a mail merge progress check.
- There will also be one written report each year.
The purpose of feedback is to reflect the progress that a student is making towards the planned learning outcomes through identifying the strengths of their work and to make clear how it could be improved. Generally, there should be at least as much positive as developmental feedback. Feedback can take many different forms and includes verbal as well as written comments. Feedback should also show that the student’s effort is particularly valued. Wherever possible time in class should be given for students to reflect on the feedback they have received and to act upon it. The school is committed to developing Learning Dialogue (through initiatives such as Triple Impact Marking) as a means to making feedback as effective as possible. Our thinking on assessment has been shaped by Dylan Wiliam’s book Embedded Formative Assessment.
We will do this by:
- providing high quality oral as well as written feedback; we recognise that a dialogue between teacher and student is a rich source of dialogue, especially when the key points of oral feedback are captured by the use of stickers etc.
- giving key assessments an effort grade and students will also be asked to give themselves a grade for effort
- using a common feedback system: feedback should identify WWW (what went well…) & what would make the work EBI (even better if…)
- directing students to follow up feedback they have received on key assessments in class by making suitable alterations to their work or adding to what they have done (a key aspect of an effective learning dialogue)
- using the school’s reward system to recognise very good effort, in addition to other departmental praise systems (such as sending postcards home)
- ensuring that work is regularly checked and reviewed: key assessed tasks should normally be marked and returned within a fortnight
- ensuring that comments are legible and written in language that students and parents can understand
- pointing out to students that incomplete work, or work done in a half-hearted way, needs to be done again
- using self-marking & peer marking to ensure that assessment is also a tool for learning and is a key part of a rich learning dialogue
- marking in either green pen or in pencil.
Progress checks are published to pupils and parents twice a year; these interim reports use codes to reflect pupil performance against a range of criteria in each subject. There will be one full report per year which also contains a summative written comment from subject teachers. The purpose of the Ralph Allen reporting structure is to clearly indicate the progress being made by pupils in each subject and what the student needs to do next in order to make further progress.
- Reports also reflect behaviour, effort in class and effort with homework.
- In writing the comment on the full report, teachers & tutors should consider the pupil’s willingness to participate and his/her personal skills and qualities.
Curriculum team leaders are consulted annually, with team leads asked to ensure that the assessment practice of their teams is in line with school guidelines.