Assessment without levels: KS1 and KS2

The End of Curriculum Levels:

The Department for Education (DfE) decided that the children who were in Years 2 and 6 in 2014/15 would be the last pupils to be awarded a level in their end of Key Stage tests (Summer 2015).

So why did levels disappear?

The DfE want to avoid what has been termed ‘the level race’ where children moved through the old National Curriculum levels quickly to achieve higher attainment. The old National Curriculum was sub-divided into levels, but these were not linked to their National Curriculum year group. For example, a child in Year 4 could be a Level 3 or even a level 5. Children were achieving Level 5 and 6 at the end of Key Stage 2, but the DfE thought whilst that a significant number were able to achieve a Level 5 or 6 in a test—they were not necessarily secure at that level. Often they had gaps in their understanding that were overlooked because the emphasis was on a “best fit” level. The feeling from the DfE was that the old national curriculum and the levels system failed to adequately ensure that children had a breadth and depth of knowledge at each national curriculum level.

Assessing without levels:

The DfE announced that from 2016 there would no longer be National Curriculum levels in KS1 and KS2 Statutory Tests and that schools would have to set up their own way of assessing pupils.

Since September 2015 we have been working on developing our own system of assessment which is suitable for St Mary’s.

We now assess children  against the new curriculum expectations for each year Group. We focus on identifying children’s strengths and weaknesses and acting on this information rather than awarding levels.

Under the old levels system children who were exceeding expectations might have moved into the next level. The DfE now want children who are in the “exceeding” bracket to add more depth and breadth to their knowledge, and to have more opportunities to develop their using and applying skills. They are calling this phase of learning Mastery and Depth.

How we assess at St Mary’s:

  • Pupils are assessed against the expectations for their age group.

  • Where children are not yet working at age related expectations, teachers differentiate accordingly as they have always done. This may include working on objectives from an earlier year.

  • Children are now expected to deepen their knowledge and apply the objectives for their age in a wider range of contexts. Children will not be taught the objectives from a higher year group. This in line with Government guidance. Children who meet expectations for their Year Group before the end of the year will be given the opportunity to work on this content at greater depth.

How do we arrive at judgments about attainment and progress?

  • We make formal judgments six times a year and these are entered onto our electronic Tracking System.

  • Our internal assessments are based on a full range of evidence including work in books, verbal contributions to lessons, observations, formal tests. They are not just based on a test score.

  • We use these judgments to measure how much progress children are making each year from their starting points towards end of year expectations. Teachers and Senior leaders look at the books of individual children to check that they are making progress over time and that the learning planned is of sufficient challenge to ensure the children make progress.

  • In KS2 we use a set of SATS style formal tests Years 3,4 and 5 to help us assess the children’s strengths and weaknesses. The children take these tests in the first half of the Autumn term and in the Summer. We will then be evaluating their usefulness for use in the future.

  • The children in Years 2 and 6 take the new SATS tests in the Summer term and are also assessed against the new end of year expectations. The results of these assessments are reported to parents. In KS2 the tests scores and teacher assessments are reported separately.