Assessment at KS3:
In June 2013, the government published a document for schools on ‘Assessing without Levels’, in which it was explained that the old system of Levels at Key Stage 3 would be abolished and not replaced. They said the following:
"We believe this system is complicated and difficult to understand, especially for parents. It also encourages teachers to focus on a pupil’s current level, rather than consider more broadly what the pupil can actually do. Prescribing a single detailed approach to assessment does not fit with the curriculum freedoms we are giving schools. The new programmes of study set out what should be taught by the end of each key stage. We will give schools the freedom to develop a curriculum which is relevant to their pupils and enables them to meet these expectations."
At The Kings School, we agreed that levels weren’t very accurate and that they were potentially distracting from learning and the feedback we actually wanted students to act on.
We thought we could do a better job in assessing your child so that they learnt more at KS3, so we devised our own model to best suit our students. We are instead moving toward the completing two full years with our new system of assessment without levels.
We developed our own system of assessment which focuses primarily on improving the learning of our students, and which builds on the following overarching principles:
- A move away from giving levels or grades to focusing on just giving great feedback;
- A move towards charting progress relative to a student’s starting point and away from simply charting attainment e.g. Alex is exceeding we expect him to be at this stage in year 8.
- A focus on the Growth Mindset ideals, whereat a focus on effort is explicit and really important;
- An end of year examination or practical assessment in Years 7, 8 and 9 – to produce summative data, and to prepare students for the challenging demands of the examinations required by the new GCSE and A Level courses;
- Flexibility to allow for subject level distinctions, but nearly every subject will need to prepare students for written examinations at the end of Year 11.