Key Stage 3 Assessment
HOW DO WE ASSESS PUPILS?
Essentially we assess the learning of pupils in two ways, which act as two separate layers of assessment. These are as follows
Layer 1: Formative – on-going, ungraded and focused on smaller chunks of the curriculum.
Layer 2: Summative – roughly 2-3 times per year. Knowledge included will build cumulatively through the year. For most subjects this takes the form of a test.
Formative assessment is what we want teachers to focus on most. This is because research evidence tells us that this has the greatest impact on learning. It does not involve the grading of work but instead the teacher identifying pupils’ strengths and weaknesses and then adapting their teaching to help pupils improve.
Some examples of formative assessment are:
- Multi-choice questions
- Reading or observing pupil work (either during or after a lesson)
- Live marking (marking pupils’ work as they are completing it)
- Breaking a complex task down into several smaller parts and assessing one part at a time.
- Spelling and vocabulary tests
- Filling in blank knowledge organisers
- Written plans
Summative assessments will usually take place two or three times per year and these may take the form of a test, an assessed piece of writing or practical work as appropriate to the subject.
HOW DO WE JUDGE THE STARTING POINTS OF PUPILS?
We do not assign target grades to pupils at key stage 3 as we do not want to put any limits on their aspirations. We want to encourage the mind-set where all pupils strive for excellence and a culture of ‘I can’t do yet’ rather than ‘I can’t do.’
We do however use their achievement scores at key stage 2 and CAT4 tests taken in year 7, to assign each pupil a starting point. For subjects where these may be less useful in identifying prior skills, such as Music, Art, Drama and Physical Education, teachers will carry out baseline assessments during the autumn term of Year 7 and assign starting points based on this information. It must be stressed that this process is only a start point. Whilst overall school progress is measured externally in relation to the progress pupils make from their key stage 2 test outcomes, and we recognise why this is the case, we also recognise that key stage 2 tests and CAT4 tests only measure attainment at one snapshot in time. As such they don’t always give a true reflection of a child’s future potential. Key stage test scores provide some very useful information about what a child can and can’t do at that moment in time, but we don’t see them as a proxy for IQ. For this reason, we don’t assign rigid ‘flight paths’ for pupil progress; to do so would seem to be entrenching pre-existing inequalities in attainment measured at that one point in time. We also recognise that pupil progress isn’t linear and rarely follows predictable trajectories.
Based on their identified start points, pupils on entry will be placed into one of three attainment bands for each subject. These attainment bands are not fixed and where a pupil is working consistently at the level above, their band should be changed. No pupil can be moved down bands.
|Attainment band||'Expected' GCSE outcome|
We firmly believe that if teachers teach good lessons and pupils work hard, both in and out of school, this will lead to positive outcomes. We continuously monitor the quality of teaching and learning across the school in order to ensure all pupils have access to great learning. We also place a huge emphasis on monitoring and rewarding pupil effort in all areas of the curriculum. If pupils try hard in every aspect of their work, success invariably comes their way. We strive to create a culture in school where excellence is the norm; a school where working hard is something to be celebrated by everybody.The process of determining and assigning attainment bands helps us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each pupil in order to enable them to be taught in the most effective way and to make maximum progress. It will also give us a point from which to internally track pupil progress. Pupils are continuously assessed throughout years 7 – 9 in order to ensure they have gained the required knowledge and skills, at that point in time, in order for them to achieve their expected GCSE outcomes. If pupils consistently demonstrate that they are working at a level above their initial attainment band, they will be moved into the next band. Where pupils are performing below expectations, support will be put in place to help pupils to get back on track; this will often involve contacting parents to discuss the concerns identified. In line with our philosophy of high aspirations for all, the expectation is that all pupils make progress in line with the very best schools nationally.
REPORTING TO PARENTS
Three times a year parents will receive an update on their child’s progress in school. Parents will receive 3 Progress Reports and be able to attend a Parents' Evening. This will include:
- Attainment band for each subject.
- A judgement as to whether or not a child is on track to achieve predicted future outcomes.
- A judgement as to whether current effort levels are acceptable.
- A judgement on students attitude to learning in 3 areas:
- Effort and resilience
- Independent study
Parents will also be able to track homework and behaviour information throughout the year through the use of Class Charts.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY CAN’T MY CHILD BE GIVEN A GCSE TARGET AT KEY STAGE 3?
Whilst we can use data to look at how pupils with particular starting points usually perform at GCSE, we don’t want to use this to set them targets. The main reason is that we don’t want to put a ceiling on their expectations of themselves – we want all students to believe that with the right effort, we can all get that little bit better. Just because most students with a particular key stage 2 starting point end up getting grade 5 at GCSE, that doesn’t mean that has to be the case for everybody.
WHAT DO EACH OF THE DIFFERENT ATTAINMENT BANDS MEAN?
All attainment bands are initially assigned based on your child’s performance in their key stage 2 SATs. By comparing the progress pupils with the same key stage 2 scores have made in previous years, teachers can ensure they pitch their lessons at the correct level in order to make sure all pupils in their class make excellent progress. As a rough guide (and it is rough- see below) the expected GCSE outcomes for each attainment band are-
|Attainment band||'Expected' GCSE outcome|
Whilst the attainment band, to some extent, determines the curriculum coverage at key stage 3, most of our teaching groups are mixed ability and as such all pupils will be taught higher level content. We teach to the top and provide support, where needed, in order to ensure all pupils have the best possible chances of achieving high grades.
CAN MY CHILD MOVE ATTAINMENT BANDS?
Yes. If pupils consistently demonstrate that they are working at a level above their initial attainment band, they will be moved into the next band. Where pupils are performing below expectations, support will be put in place to help pupils to get back on track.
WHY ARE THE ATTAINMENT BANDS BROAD? I WANT TO KNOW THE EXACT GCSE GRADE MY CHILD IS CURRENTLY WORKING AT.
It is extremely difficult to predict GCSE grades during key stage 3 due to the amount of learning that has to take place before pupils eventually sit their exams at the end of year 11. As a result, we have designed a key stage 3 assessment system that deliberately avoids connecting our curriculum objectives too closely to GCSE grades. We feel to do so would be misleading and may lead to unnecessary anxiety for our students. We want our students to focus on getting better in every subject during key stage 3 rather than their eventual GCSE grades. The firm message we want to give at key stage 3 is ‘with the right amount of effort, anything is possible.’
IS THERE ANY LINK BETWEEN THE KEY STAGE 3 CURRICULUM AND GCSE?
We have recently rewritten our entire key stage 3 curriculum in order to raise the level of challenge for all pupils. As part of our curriculum planning, all subjects have identified the core knowledge and skills that pupils will need to gain at key points if they are to achieve in line with their attainment band at GCSE. As previously stated we aim high and, with the right amount of effort and commitment, we believe all pupils can make great progress during their time in school.
WHAT DO THE ATTITUDES TO LEARNING COLUMNS MEAN ON A SCHOOL REPORT?
For us, these is the most important columns on the report. If pupils try their hardest at all times, we are confident they will make excellent progress in school. Effort grades are ranked 1-4 with 1 being the highest grade. The key criteria for achieving each grade are given on the report. Where a child has an effort grade 3 or below, teachers will identify key cause(s) for concern.
WHO DO I SPEAK TO IF I HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS?
If you have any queries/questions about your child’s progress within a specific subject, please contact their subject teacher in the first instance. Where you have more general concerns i.e. across three or more subjects, please contact your child’s form tutor.