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Magic markbook

Lynne Taylor's step-by-step guide to assessment with free support materials on the Online website.

Target Setting is the "buzz" word in schools these days. What does it mean and how can every teacher get involved? We continue our build up of free resources here and on the TESOnline website - with simple and straightforward target setting tips that every teacher can use.

What is target setting?

Target setting shouldn't be just a procedure to furnish LEA and national statistics. It should be a genuine way of stretching pupils to achieve realistic objectives. You can:

* review all evidence of pupils' achievements * set sensible, but challenging goals for you and your pupils to work towards * realise each individual's potential.

Effective target setting will trigger self-assessment to help you evaluate your own performance.

What are the legal requirements?

When you read DFEE Circular 1198, Target Setting you'd be forgiven for thinking it's got nothing directly to do with ordinary classroom teachers. The document relates to statistical group analysis, but these statistics come from achievements in the classroom. The legal requirements are simple and relevant to every teacher: "Every school year governing bodies must set targets for the attainment of pupils at the end of key stage 2 and in their last year of compulsory schooling as measured by national curriculum tests and public examinations or equivalent qualificationsI From September 2000, they will need to publish their schools' performance against those targets."

Crying out for expert help?

This target setting is a new experience for everyone and we are all learning. No one has practised formal target setting in schools on a large scale and seen long-term effects on achievement. A few schools have been "doing it for years" but not to agreed criteria and certainly not within today's curriculum frameworks.

It makes sense to gather good quality assessment data, present it in a logical form, so you can make accurate judgements of future performances of your pupils. Target setting can evolve into a very positive and productive process for all teachers and, with the right support, it will raise standards.

Haven't teachers always been doing this?

Yes, but now we have the tools to manipulate data in so many different ways, so we can use it in a variety of ways. Most primary teachers can accurately predict the pupils that will go on to achieve high GCSEs, bu what about those children who have latent ability? Einstein's teachers found him "average" - but what if they had been able to track his mathematics ability objectively? Perhaps his standardised scores would have gone off the scale? Maybe not!

In schools where I have helped to set targets from assessment data, we always find children who are obviously higher ability than expected. Teachers are genuinely surprised but it is wonderful to see immediate action to target these children to further their potential. See examples of school practice at What Evidence?

The more data that exists, the greater the accuracy of the targets set. Build up a history of achievement and a clear picture develops.

The target setting process Take these logical steps:

* establish the baseline achievement

* set targets for the end of the year

* once you know your pupils, carry out an assessment check to confirm targets - although targets have been set against an objective baseline, it is the new teacher that has to achieve them

* if targets are unrealistic, discuss with senior management, and provide evidence

* set other personal targets - targets should not just be curriculum orientated

* ongoing assessment should be standardised and recorded

* carry out a regular check that targets are on course

* send interim report to parents

* identify under-achievers

* action methods to put them back on course

* look for progress

* celebrate success

* send end-of-year report to parents

* evaluate curriculum (see Online June 9, 2000)

* set targets for next academic year

* report whether targets have been met.

There is more information on target setting to be found at

What to do next

* get some ideas from other schools in our case studies

* access and read our pages on target setting on

* download our latest files

* use standardised assessment data recorded in your system to set targets

* share these with all staff

* confirm which standardised assessment records are best indicators of pupil performance

* target underachievement

* make links with national and LEA targets

* begin to talk about your reporting to parents.

Lynne Taylor runs Cogent Computer Solutions, based in Kenilworth. Questions can be emailed to cogents@aol.comPrevious assessment materials can be accessed on the TES Online website

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