Systematic assessments are critical for a school to monitor what a child can and can’t do academically. This information allows teachers to take into account a pupil’s level of learning, and plan the most suitable next steps in that child’s development. Assessment methods fall into two broad categories and the information below seeks to explain this in a little more detail.
Formative Assessments: Often called ‘Assessment for Learning’, this method is used by teachers on a day to day basis in the classroom as they ask children questions during lesson and mark the subsequent work. It allows a ‘gauge’ to be taken of how well the children understand what is being taught, and enables a teacher to modify the lesson delivery; either increasing the pace if progress is swift, or slowing it down and providing more specific support where needed. A Department of Education booklet about these ideas can be found here.
It is generally agreed by educational professionals that Assessment for Learning is the most effective way for children to make academic progress, and demonstrates the quality of teaching a school can offer. Mr Dylan William is regarded as a leading authority on improving teaching standards through this method – below are some video clips of him speaking on the subject…
Summative Assessment: This method is better explained as assessment through exams. Usually implemented once per term, it provides an overall grade for reading, writing and maths which is then compared to a national average. How a child’s individual scores then contrast to this average shows if they are achieving the same as, below, or above their peer group. Overtime these scores are tracked, which allows teachers to spot those falling behind and thus who requires extra support.
Moderation: The process of assessment can be subjective, meaning different teachers can draw different conclusions about a child’s learning. To ensure the same levels of attainment and progress are delivered, teaching staff regularly work together, with colleagues in other schools, and with representatives from the Local Education Authority to discuss example pieces of children’s work. These sessions help to develop a collective opinion and view of how pupil learning should be monitored.