In 2014, to support schools in the transition to assessment in the new ‘level-free’ curriculum, we produced free Rising Stars Progression Frameworks for English, maths and science. These frameworks breakdown the curriculum, offering progression statements for each year group, covering all the expectations of the programmes of study for these key subjects.
Each progression statement is accompanied by three ‘what to look for’ guidance notes that enable teachers to evaluate individual pupil’s progress against the statement and to identify the next steps in learning. These are:
Working towards expectations
We also included links to the NAHT’s Key Performance Indicators, to make it really easy to find the associated ‘What to look for’ guidance.
We are delighted that our frameworks have been downloaded by 6,000 users directly from our assessment community website in just a few months, and as they have been so popular we have also released Frameworks for Teaching the More Able. But we are also aware that there are a number of different tracking and assessment tools being utilised in schools, so to make it as simple as possible for schools to make use of the frameworks, we have started fostering some really fruitful partnerships with assessment tool providers. One of these partners is Classroom Monitor, who provide an online platform used in nearly 2,000 schools across England and Wales to assess pupils against National Curriculum 2014, track progress and report to parents.
West Jesmond Primary is a larger than average community mixed school, with 600 pupils on roll. Deputy Head Dominic Martin has been there for two years, and has been teaching for nine years. As part of their transition to assessment beyond levels, West Jesmond Primary started using Classroom Monitor in September 2014 and staff are using the Rising Stars Progression Frameworks within the platform.
When the DfE announced that primary schools in England would be free to choose their own methods of formative assessment in National Curriculum 2014, Dominic and his team embraced the challenge. He explains:
“We saw this as an exciting opportunity to refocus the emphasis of school-based assessment. Here was a chance for us to:
build an assessment system that fitted with our school’s values and vision for the curriculum,
place more emphasis on reporting assessment outcomes to parents and children as a descriptive profile, rather than numerical values,
place greater emphasis on teachers using precise descriptions of pupil progress, gaps and next steps, rather than numerical values,
refocus our attention on how assessment can be used to support teaching and learning for all pupils.”
One of the issues facing the SLT was that their existing commercial tracking system was not robust enough to accommodate these changes: “With our existing tracking system, many members of the SLT found that the range of reports available to analyse data was limited. We liked Classroom Monitor as an alternative for many reasons. Initially we were drawn to it due to its link with Rising Stars, as we’d used their NC14 materials for a while and planned to use their Optional Tests in the new academic year.”
Regarding the school’s choice of framework, Dominic explains: “We were looking for a framework that would support us in teaching the depth and breadth of the curriculum in each year group, before children progressed further. This framework would also need to articulate the progression steps in each year group clearly to staff, children and parents.
“We chose Rising Stars because we liked the way they set out progress: developing, meeting and in particular exceeding. We really liked this approach as we thought it would support deeper learning and coverage before children moved into the next year’s learning. Old levels lacked breadth and depth, in my opinion.
“Rising Stars also seemed well matched to the DfE’s ideas on how attainment would be described at the end of Years 2 and 6. We did lots of looking round at different frameworks and systems before we made this choice.”
One term into using Classroom Monitor and the Rising Stars Progression Frameworks, formative assessment has already become more focused across the school. Dominic tells us, “The online markbooks in Classroom Monitor and absence of levels has really brought teachers back to a greater focus on gaps and next steps, as they can’t rely upon discussions about numerical values. Teachers have found the overview of how their class is getting on really helpful for planning and addressing the needs of all children, but in particular target groups who need to make rapid progress to catch up.”
“Using new assessment criteria has forced staff to become familiar with new curriculum content, objectives and higher expectations. Staff have really embraced this new assessment system; they can now focus more on what a child needs to do next to move on, rather than using numerical values, such as 5c, etc. Staff have also used their meeting times well to share best practice and work through the changes together as a team – this has been vital to creating an ‘in this together’ spirit.”
For more information on Classroom Monitor, visit www.classroommonitor.co.uk. To download the free Rising Stars Progression Frameworks, head over to our assessment community website.
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