This book is a rewrite of Shirley Clarke's Formative Assessment in the National Curriculum: Mathematics Levels 1-3 (published in 1992) updated to take account of the post-Dearing national curriculum orders. It retains most of the strengths of the first edition and it accurately reflects the Dearing approach to assessment.
The first thing to say is this is not a set of SATs practice activities. The author strongly promotes the effective use of assessment as integral to good teaching. Its aim is to help teachers find out what pupils know and can do and suggest how teachers can use this information constructively to help pupils move forward. The book provides plenty of useful, down-to-earth advice in meeting these aims.
Each statement in the revised programmes of study is amplified and explained. Suggestions are provided for classroom activities to promote the particular skills or knowledge within the statement. For each statement the author proposes situations suitable for assessing pupils singly or in groups. Some of these are likely to occur naturally within the classroom; for others, specific activities with supporting photocopiable resource sheets are provided.
The most significant feature of the book is the tabulated list of possible pupil responses and what these indicate. Where a pupil does not provide evidence of achievement in relation to the statement, advice is offered on appropriate next steps. For pupils who are successful, a section called "Developing and extending understanding" identifies ways in which learning can be reinforced, deepened and applied in broader contexts. In this way the assessments are truly formative and can offer teachers real insights into their pupils' stages of learning.
The new format of the mathematics Order enables progression within aspects of mathematics to be identified more clearly and this is reflected throughout the book. So, rather than grouping statements together by level, a particular strand, such as "solving numerical problems", is considered progressively. This feature makes the book a valuable aid to planning which many teachers will find useful.
Schools with the original version may find it hard to justify buying this edition, particularly as the price has nearly doubled. For others, it has to be recommended as valuable source of advice on teaching and assessing key stage 1 mathematics.