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Assessment Beyond Levels

In May 2013, the Secretary of State announced: ‘As part of our reforms to the national curriculum, the current system of ‘levels’ used to report children’s attainment and progress will be removed.  It will not be replaced.’  This policy decision followed recommendations from the national curriculum Expert Panel (DfE: 2011) chaired by Tim Oates. ‘Reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools’ (DfE; 2014) stated ‘schools should have the freedom to decide how to teach their curriculum and how to track the progress that pupils make’ (p4). These announcements made it clear that central government was no longer going to dictate how schools should record and report progress between statutory tests.

Teaching Schools, as key players in a school led system, were invited by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) in January 2014 to bid for small-scale research funding to explore alternative approaches to assessment beyond levels within their alliance schools. This report summarises the research from thirty four teaching school alliances across the country. Following a contextualisation of the projects and an overview of the methodology adopted to collate this number of projects, this report then summarises the approaches schools developed or engaged with, under the headings of:

  • Assessment tools to support individual progress through feedback
  • Assessment tools to capture progress
  • Use of technology to track progress

The final section reports the outcomes identified by the schools and the impact they have identified to date, before concluding with recommendations.

The alliances featured within this study have taken the opportunity presented by the removal of national curriculum levels to review and trial a range of locally-developed tools and strategies.  In many cases the school alliances are at an early stage in their development of assessment resources, but this report aims to capture the key learning from each group in order that others may build on this within their own community of schools.