Reporting & Assessment
Reports are an integral part of what we do and an important way we communicate your child’s learning. However, reports are only one piece of a jigsaw, that we endeavour to put together, of your child’s learning journey whilst at the Alice Smith School.
The information contained within reports comes from a range of sources. The reporting process not only begins from the moment your child arrives with their teacher, but is also continual. As soon as one report is written and issued to parents, teachers are already gathering data, making judgements and decisions about where your children are in their learning and where they need to go next. This teacher judgement is vital. Class teachers interact with your children on a daily basis and know your child - what motivates them, what interests them and what their strengths are. Teacher judgements are augmented by the use of standardised data and teacher judgements. A standardised assessment is a test that requires all test takers to answer the same questions in the same way and that is scored in a “standard” or consistent manner. This makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students.
We run a number of standardised assessment from the UK company GL. One assessment that we have recently introduced for Years 3-6 is the Cognitive Ability Test or CAT4. CAT4 is a series of short online tests which assess a student’s reasoning (thinking) abilities in key areas that support educational development and academic attainment. It comprises four ‘batteries’ of online tests that assess the main types of mental processing which play a substantial role in human thought. The CAT4 batteries assess thinking with words (verbal reasoning), numbers (quantitative reasoning), shapes (non-verbal reasoning) and shape and space (spatial ability). No pre-learning or knowledge is necessary or, indeed, recommended to complete the tests.
Results from CAT4 can help in intervention, monitoring progress and setting targets for future attainment. It can also help your child and his/her teachers to plan appropriately and set targets. Information from CAT4 forms part of the process of supporting children and helping them achieve their potential. This is just one piece of information which we use at school. Other information, including teachers’ own assessments, are also vital. Results from CAT4 are used by teachers, in combination with teacher assessment, to set targets for learning and identify any particular need, for example a need for support in literacy or mathematics. Towards the end of term 3, we also use GL’s Progress Tests in English and Maths which allow teachers to judge attainment against their potential (as identified by the CAT4 tests).
However, whilst standardised assessments can provide useful information, they are a snapshot of your child’s achievement - or potential achievement - on the day they took the assessment. There can be a myriad of factors that influence the results of these assessments. There are a range of other ways that teachers engage with your children. They participate in professional dialogues which allow them to meet with year leaders and discuss all aspects of every child in their class - are they achieving their potential? Are there any barriers to them learning? What are the next steps that need to be put in place to provide the requisite challenge for students? This process allows teachers to build up a detailed and intricate picture of what is happening in the class and helps inform planning and next steps.
The removal of levels in the UK back in 2014, paved the way for schools around the world to develop their own assessment system. At the primary campus our approach has been for teachers to use their formative (on-going) assessment along with evidence from a range of data, including student observation and dialogue, standardised data and tracking against the KLASS developmental curriculum skills to make judgements, for reporting purposes, as to where children are in their learning. The reports give an indication of where your child is currently working in relation to the expected end of year band for the skills they have covered so far. The children are assessed in three bands: 'Working Towards', 'Working Within' or 'Exceeding' (the expected end of year band). This also includes a detailed refinement for the ‘Working Within’ band. For example, when a child is working within the expected band, the teacher will also be able to tell you whether they are ‘developing’, ‘secure’ or ‘proficient’ within the band. to help make decisions as to where students are in their learning.
This year, reports will be issued for term 1 for all year groups from 1 through to 6. These reports will now include ‘ways to support your child’ in English and maths. This reflects our philosophy that your child’s learning should be a partnership between home and school. We hope you find these suggestions useful. In addition, and in response to parental feedback, we have added a Parent/Teacher consultation at the end of term 1. This will give parents the opportunity to discuss aspects of the term 1 report if they feel it necessary.
One of the many things we pride ourselves on at Alice Smith is that our teachers know the children in their care; they know what motivates them, where their strengths are and where there are gaps in their learning which need to be filled. We strongly believe teacher judgement is key in making sense of the range of data we have at our disposal and that this will be reflected in the reports you receive and the dialogues that you have.
Vice Principal Achievement and Progression - Primary Campus