To develop your understanding of standards

Aim

To develop your understanding of standards, and thus the quality of teacher assessment.

Evidence and reflection

Chose one of the tests or other tasks that is used for summative assessment of the children you teach. Read the test then study the assessment criteria. If there are examples of children’s work that have been previously assessed, study these alongside the assessment criteria. Collect several examples of unmarked work trying to get a range of attainment, and assess each against the assessment criteria. Make notes or annotate the work to explain your assessment decisions. What are the next steps for each child? What are the implications for teaching this topic in the future?

If at all possible discuss your assessments and notes with colleagues. Developing an understanding of standards is best done through individual scrutiny of children’s work followed by dialogue. It is an ongoing process, and needs to be repeated regularly, sometimes focusing on different aspects and standards of work. Annotated work from these exercises build up into an extremely valuable resource. Schools should have a programme of such activities, sometimes called agreement trialing or assessor training, bringing together colleagues who assess children in the same year group or subject area. Moderation exercises are also very important, taking place once teachers have made initial assessments in order to align judgements with assessment criteria and ensure marking is fair.

Extension

Repeat the activities above as often as possible, especially with assessments that have grade boundaries and rely on holistic teacher judgements rather than the accumulation of marks from short questions. Pay particular attention to work that is close to the grade boundaries. What are the key points or combination of qualities that place work in one grade rather than another? How aware are you and the children of these factors?

Gather at least three and preferably more examples of unmarked work. Before using the assessment criteria, rank the examples of work in order of quality. Note down the bases on which you judged the work. Now apply the assessment criteria, marking the pieces accordingly. Are there any differences in the order, and if so what might be the explanation and implications?