Whole Education’s webinar ‘assessment beyond the current crisis’ in partnership with GL Education is taking place Tuesday 9th June. WE Associate Director David Crossley will be hosting the webinar – in advance he shares a provocation on assessment in the new world.
Find out more about #WEAssessment or register your places at the bottom of this page.
Moving beyond post-mortem assessment
I am a self-confessed data enthusiast but not a data geek. To me this is linked closely to our core moral purpose of enabling every student in our care to realise their potential. Sadly in England data has become too closely linked to external and internal accountability and too narrow in its focus on primarily academic attainment. This combines with an over emphasis on summative post mortem data rather than formative data that you can respond to more proactively. Whilst important for governments, localities and trusts this underplays its real importance i.e. helping teachers be data informed to best meet the learning needs of each student in their care.
An unintended consequence – teacher assessment matters more
One of the unintended and surprising consequences of Covid19 has been a new trust and reliance on teachers to identify the grades students should achieve in our high stakes public examinations. In reality, as I have always argued, it is not that difficult as most students over a country do as you would expect and when added to the teacher’s knowledge of their students and their work over time is clearly a strong combination. This is in direct contrast to our previous culture where teacher judgement was downplayed and not trusted. However, just as data is not enough on its own neither is teacher judgment. It is the partnership between the two elements that is particularly powerful. Good use of formative data enables us to do more than just predict the obvious – it enables us to help more students achieve more too.
Two events in my career helped me form these beliefs first when a researcher working for a leading professor visited my first school and advised me that students did better than similar students and how they knew. Second some years later my first Ofsted when the lead inspector told me that we had one of the biggest gaps between boy and girls attainment and I could say with confidence we knew and had been working on it for five years and those boys did better than expected. This was the power of standardised data and planned teacher interventions in response.
More recently in Whole Education we begin to explore ways to develop of potential of measuring what we value. Firstly, through more sophisticated use of CAT tests beyond simply predicting GCSE outcomes, secondly the potential of a greater proactive focus on student attitudes through use of the PASS test combined with teacher assessment. Finally the recognition in our work on the vocabulary gap in our “Words for all” programmes which clearly show the importance of not just learning words but all the wider cultural dynamics including both attitudes and aspirations.
Seizing the Agenda: How our schools are responding to both immediate and longer-term challenges
Whole Education schools have been sharing how they have been responding to the during the lockdown and now are looking beyond this too. They are seizing the agenda and exploring both practical ways they of responding to the challenges like transition, identifying and responding to wide ranging “gaps” that are emerging within different year groups. This extends to our major focus on the challenge of the vocabulary gaps particularly for disadvantaged students.