What is Assessment Data?
In schools, data forms a huge part of our everyday lives. It is the litmus test by which we are able to identify successes, and areas for development; put intervention in place; and assess the success of those interventions. This is not a case of ‘weighing the pig’, but rather ensuring that our most scarce resource – time – is well spent.
At The Kibworth School (TKS) we use a number of key terms when talking data, and it would be prudent to define these first before moving on.
Progress is the increase in ability in any given subject, that a student has developed during their time at TKS. This is the primary goal of the school – to maximise progress.
Traditionally, attainment has been seen as the most import of the data assessment measures. This refers to the grades that a student receives, A*-G, or in the new GCSEs 9-1.
What’s the difference?
Attainment tends to focus on the number of students who pass a given threshold, for example, a percentage of students in the year who achieve a grade C or better. Progress, on the other hand, measures how far a student has moved from where they started, to where they are now. Whilst this requires us to measure the current attainment, this is to allow us to see the current distance travelled. By focussing on progress, we do not stop pushing a child to develop just because they have ‘got their C’.
A student’s Current Working Level (CWL) is their most recent assessment score. This is measured through a variety of methods (details below) at 5 points in the year – these are Data Drop Points. Student’s attainment will fluctuate through the year, and we strive to understand these ebbs and flows, in order to best support the child in making the best progress they can. A lower grade at Easter than February does not mean the child has lost ability but rather poses a question – what is it about this period that explains why the assessment is lower? And most importantly, how can we address this issue to ensure that its effects are no longer felt?
At TKS we set Target Aspirational Grade (TAG) for our students. The target setting policy and methodology is below, but the primary goal of our process is to raise aspirations: to provide each student with a challenging goal to aim for. This should be realistic, but should require effort and dedication on the part of both students and teachers to reach. TAGs are set at the start of Year 7 for Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8), and in Year 9 for GCSE. We review GCSE targets at the start of Year 10, and Year 11, to ensure that they meet both our, and the student’s, requirements.
In the final year of primary school, all students sit their Key Stage 2 SATs. These tests provide each child with a nationally standardised benchmark, and forms the basis of all data in secondary schools. By combining the child’s English-Reading and Maths scores, secondary schools are provided with a ‘start point’.
Using the KS2 scores, we can look at past GCSE data for the whole country and ask ‘what grades did other children with the same start point achieve at GCSE?’. This will then give us a range of ‘likely grades’ which help us to set appropriately challenging targets.
To demonstrate our target setting progress, we will work through two examples; Tom and Mahnoor.
Tom is a gifted Mathematician, and plays the piano. He likes to read, but finds it difficult. He achieved a level 5c in Maths, and a 4c in Reading. His overall grade was a high 4b.
Mahnoor loves to draw and paint. She struggles with spelling, and does not find maths easy, but she works very hard, and was happy to get a 4b in both SATs. Overall, she also achieved a 4b.
The chart below shows the range of outcomes in English by all children nationally who had the same starting point as Tom and Mahnoor at KS2 – a 4b.
By using these figures, we can say that the average (50%) English GCSE grade for students who achieved a KS2 4b was a ‘4’, whilst children in the top 20% achieved a ‘5’, and the top 5% of children achieved a ‘7’.
The grade distributions are different for each subject. They are also slightly different for boys and girls. These small context factors, along with a few others, such as the child’s date of birth, are taken into account to produce individualised benchmarks and grade distributions. This statistical modelling is done by the Fisher Family Trust; a national, education, data-modelling charity used by 13,500 schools. (Details can be found at fft.org.uk)
During the first term, both Tom and Mahnoor’s teachers are carefully assessing their ability in each of the subjects studied in year 7. Just before October half term, the teachers level each student as Developing, Mastery or Expert in their subject based on these initial assessments.
Tom and Mahnoor’s data is below.
Using the teachers’ assessments, each child is set an end of Key Stage 4 (GCSE) target, based on the FFT benchmarks for top 50% (developing), top 20% (Mastery) and top 5% (Expert) of students. By doing this, we are setting realistic targets, but with the expectation that all of our students will be in the top 50% of students nationally, from their individual start points, but more importantly based on their individual strengths and aptitudes.
Tom and Mahnoor’s KS4 TAGs are:
Key Stage 3 Targets:
It is a long journey from Year 7 to the end of Year 11, and so we use the KS4 TAGs to set interim targets for all students. Again, using nationally model statistics, we know that students make roughly 50% of their progress in years 7-9, and 50% in years 10 and 11. Accordingly, we map their KS2 SATs to an entry level on the GCSE scale and calculate the difference between the two. This number is then mapped out, for target setting purposes, as below:
In this way, we can use the target at GCSE to provide interim targets for all years. Each subject is slightly different, and each student’s targets are individual – based on their KS2 scores, their ability in each subject, and the context factors used by FFT in their data modelling. It should be noted that not all subjects progress at the same rate. Maths and Spanish, for example, have very different progress expectations, with Spanish starting much slower, as students meet a new language, learn basic vocabulary and rules, but then progress speeds up in the later years when application is based on frequency of practice and maturing understanding of language construction.
Tracking and Assessments
At TKS we assess students continually, using a wide variety of techniques. Our knowledge-based curriculum is based on regular testing of recall during the ‘Do Now’ stage of each lesson; questioning is explicit, and designed to assess all students’ wider application of that knowledge, with a strict ‘No Opt Out’ policy; and through regular book marking teachers are able to formatively assess each student’s application of the knowledge to the subject’s skills. In addition to this, there are formal, summative assessments which provide a snap shot of the child’s progress at that point. These are all used to provide our Data Drops.
There are 5 Data Drops in the year, with data collected from teachers, roughly every 6 weeks, at the end of each half term. The data is then analysed and evaluated, subject by subject, by the teacher, subject leader and senior leaders. Students who are performing above their targets are rewarded, whilst those who are under-performing are identified, and cross-referenced with the Progress for Learning Team (formerly Heads of Year) to identify any potential explanations for the under-performance. Interventions are put in place at whole-school, departmental and classroom level, depending on need, to address the issues. Intervention strategies used range from Personal Support Plans, to extra-sessions: from set moves to academic mentoring and parental meetings. The impact of these interventions is closely monitored, to ensure that students are making accelerated progress to catch up any lost ground before the next Data Drop.
Reporting to Parents
After each Data Drop, the students’ data is uploaded to Student Folder. This will plot the information, and inform the parent that a new data point is available. This data should be seen for what it is – a snap shot of the performance of the child, measured against a target line. It is useful to think of the data report as a bank statement. It merely shows the current measurement of a variable – it is usual for the data to fluctuate, and not all children make progress at the linear rate that the target line is projecting. It is not a full ‘report’ of everything that is going on with a student – it does not celebrate their sporting achievements for the school team, for example, in the same way that a bank statement tells you what a meal cost, not how much you enjoyed the evening. What a data report does do is highlight current working levels and progress towards a target. This information should prompt questions, and open discussion around the term’s successes and areas for development. Discussions with your child, scrutiny of the subjects ‘Progress Steps’ in Student Folder or a conversation with the teacher can be undertaken from an informed position.
More detail surrounding Student Folder will be published over the remainder of this half term as the service is launched with parents.