2007 revision became too vague, loss of core knowledge. Lack of “sound transnational comparison” 2010 return to solid content and introduction of international benchmarking – important to do fewer things in greater depth
Assessment without levels - Feedback Group
Assessment and Feedback Group
8th December 2014
Assessment without Levels
Chair of Expert Panel on Assessment
• Why have a new national curriculum?
• I have listened to it so you don’t have to!
Criteria Relating to Assessment of new National
• Reliable (consistent over time and when done by different people)
• Valid (measures what it claims to measure)
• Sound construct base (measures something consistent with
• Consequential validity (The uses to which the assessment is
put are technically and ethically sound)
• Beneficial impact
• Utility (easy to deliver, not too costly)
Problems in UK Assessment pre 2014:
• underdeveloped formative assessment
• assessment dominates curriculum (not key constructs)
Assessment without levels takes us back to fundamental
purposes of education.
Concept of “construct” is vital
• The learner multiplies two three digit numbers together.
• The learner understands and is inventive with metaphor.
• The learner uses the concept of inequality to analyse social relations.
• The learner understands conservation of mass.
Asking a series of questions enables us to assess whether
someone has understood these constructs.
Constructs should be the focus of our learning objectives and
Levels – the problems.
They were being applied according to 3 contrasting, co-existing
• the score on a compensation based test (Level comes from a total
number of marks which could come from higher or lower Level content)
• best fit (assessing pupil progress against Level descriptors – could be gaps in
• threshold (pupils only fall just within that boundary giving false impression they
are ready to move on)
Levels mean something different according to which model
is used. Contradictions between schools and state and
between Secondary and Primary schools. Meaningless to
And there’s more..
• Levels encouraged undue pace.
• Ofsted expectations contributed to relentless progress
up the Levels.
• Levels led to labelling “I’m a Level 3” - not original
purpose which was to enable progress to be recorded.
• Most improved education systems (Singapore, Finland)
don’t use Levels.
Devising a system without Levels
• The issue of progress. Research shows learning is not linear
or evenly paced. A spiral curriculum is helpful.
• Expansion can be as important as progression.
• True differentiation difficult to achieve. Those who make
quick progress should not move on to next step but work on
same construct in more demanding settings or materials.
• Those who understand readily can support those having
problems. Social learning.
Devising a system without Levels
• The issue of ability.
• Researchers found Asian teachers explained their learners’
lack of understanding by saying the learning hadn’t been
presented in the right way for the learners yet whereas
American teachers responded with a statement about
learners’ ability. Could the same be said about English
• Model of innate ability versus all learners having access to
whole curriculum depending on how it’s presented.
The New National Curriculum encourages the idea of
• If a learner produces something (drawing, writing,
statement etc) it becomes an object to them. It’s an insight
into their mental life.
• They can look at it and think about what and how they are
• Thinking is externalised and teachers can optimise
The New National Curriculum encourages the idea of Practice:
• Higher performing education systems give learners more
opportunity to practise.
• Not just dull repetition – should be varied, systematic and
Living without Levels
• focus on deep learning of key constructs
• rethink ideas of ability and progression
What about data?
• tests devised by teachers – strong links to key constructs
• familiar contexts plus new contexts to check learners can
• data takes form of marks
• teacher can judge which ideas/concepts need more work
• year by year statement of content for Primary Schools
• every school to publish its curriculum and assessment
• levels no longer used
• benchmarking tests at KS1 in Maths and English
• phonic screening check
• statutory test at KS2 – reported against prior attainment
• non modular GCSEs
• non modular A levels and vocational qualifications
• formal (and formative) assessment needs to focus on key
Tim Oates’ personal ideal(?!)
• potent and valid formative assessment
• good diagnostic assessment
• higher density assessment
• assessments put together by teachers which match key
constructs they have been working on
• high autonomy in selection and use of assessment
• independent measurement of national standards
• high equity, high attainment, high enjoyment curricula
• all teachers to become expert assessors
• to be able to select/devise assessments linked to key
• get together in groups to discuss assessment schemes
• local collaboration in development of high quality
Questions for Assessment and Feedback group:
• what are the key constructs for my subject?
• are they already identified?
• does our curriculum focus on the key constructs?
• is it spiral shaped, allowing constructs to be revisited?
• are we labelling our learners with a particular ability level?
• do our learners produce enough?
• do they have enough opportunity to practise?
• can those who understand quickly go into greater depth on
• do our formative assessments tell us how well our learners
have grasped the key constructs?
• how can we gather data from our assessments?
• do we assess our learners frequently enough?
• who would be the best people to collaborate with?