End of year

10 July 2015

As the end of the year approaches and assessments are being completed, it’s important to think about how you’re grading your students, especially in light of the new numbered grades. So how will you assess your students next year?

Year 11 shouldn’t be a problem, they’ll be receiving grades as per usual, and I think it would be counter-productive to change things for them. It’s not ideal from a logistical point of view, to have different year groups assessed differently, but I think the extra hassle is worth it when you consider your year 10s, this year’s Y9s. They’re getting a pretty rough deal anyway as guinea pigs for the new specification and grading, so give them a break and change your assessments early!

There are a number of issues:

  • How do you create your papers?

  • How do you grade your papers?

  • What do you report to students and parents?

Let’s deal with them. There aren’t enough GCSE papers with numbered grade boundaries and new spec questions to go around for every year group. I wouldn’t recommend giving all year groups the same paper as we all know how impressive our students can be when it comes to finding out what the paper is going to be, and there’s no way we can get all year groups doing the test on the same day. So my advice is to do what my school is doing: use createatest. I’ve been in touch with the team and over the summer a load of new spec style questions will be added. They’re also going to provide grade boundaries for every test you create, with the option of grades or numbered grades. I can’t see any alternative.

To deal with the second two points at once, I think there is a danger of students and parents misunderstanding the grades they’re given. I recommend giving students both old-style grades and new-style numbered grades for now. One year of this should be sufficient, provided enough information is given to parents.

Finally, I think that the changing system is a fantastic opportunity to start improving formative assessment as well. Schools should start reporting areas of weakness so that students are very aware of them. How you do this is up to you, but CAT is certainly the option that my school will be plumping for.

I hope everyone has a nice relaxing summer and spends some time ensuring that their assessment practice is as robust as it can possibly be once the new year arrives.

Happy holidays!

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