Most teachers 'lack confidence in assessing pupils'

A fifth of teachers do not know where to look for information on assessment, poll finds

Eleanor Busby

Free school pupils were not entered into their GCSEs

Only a third of classroom teachers feel “very confident” in their ability to assess pupils' work and understanding, a poll shows.

And a fifth of teachers do not know where to look for information on assessment, the survey of more than 1,000 teachers in England has revealed.

Meanwhile, the majority of teachers did not receive training in undertaking assessments as part of their initial teacher training, according to the YouGov poll.

The findings have been published in a report from education thinktank LKMco and education company Pearson.

The report defines assessment as including impromptu verbal feedback during lessons, classroom tests, comparative assessments to see how pupils are performing against their peers, as well as statutory tests and exams.

Based on a year-long research project, the report also says that many teachers and pupils feel that statutory assessments “do not adequately capture pupils’ achievements”, partly because the accountability system “incentivises schools to pick certain qualifications”.

It calls on the Department for Education (DfE) to stop reporting the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) measure in performance tables, to ensure pupils are able to access a wider range of subjects.  

The report, Testing the Water, makes a series of recommendations, including:  

  • Introducing a test on assessment that trainee teachers have to pass before qualifying.
  • Giving teachers greater access to in-person and online assessment training.
  • Providing teachers with high-quality materials through a bank of assessment materials.
  • Cutting the time teachers spend conducting summative assessments so they can focus on conducting formative assessments.
  • Decoupling pupils’ test results from teachers’ performance evaluations.
  • Publishing schools’ headline data as a three-year rolling average to present a more rounded picture of performance and to reduce the impact of year-on-year volatility.

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK, which runs exam board Edexcel, said: “Testing and assessment was invented by the teaching profession – because it plays a vital role in learning.

"But, given the pressures on assessment today it's time to rethink the role assessment plays in underpinning learning.

“This report shows us how much more we all have to do to support teachers in using assessment to improve learning.”

Will Millard, lead author of the report, added that: "[The] revelation that only a third of teachers feel ‘very confident’ undertaking assessment is deeply worrying."

A DfE spokesperson said: “We use a range of performance measures to assess secondary school performance in a number of areas and provide maximum transparency.

"Progress 8 is the primary accountability used by the department to assess performance.

“Our framework for initial teacher training content sets out our expectations on assessment, and makes clear that trainees should be taught how to make use of assessment in order to track pupil progress.

"We have also provided a range of resources to help individuals in the classroom develop their skills.”

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

Latest stories