New science survey hopes to end 5-14 inconsistencies

The new AAP science survey being undertaken by the Strathclyde team under the existing arrangements will overcome problems in assessing pupil standards in the 5-14 programme, the Scottish Educational Research Association's conference in Dundee was told last week.

Rae Stark, a member of the team, argued that 5-14 targets and levels do not offer a blueprint for assessment. "There is a lack of consistency between targets (some are 'big', others 'small') and an imprecision in specifying progression across the levels," Ms Stark said.

She added: "If, with more than a decade of experience in assessing performance in science, we have difficulty in negotiating the Alice Through the Looking Glass chessboard which is the matrix of levels, strands and targets, we are sure many practitioners must feel equally confused."

The AAP has to measure performance in the same areas in each survey to allow for comparisons. The Strathclyde team has devised a new "index of achievement" which will allow "a more precise and useful measure" of performance within 5-14 guidelines. In particular, it will measure part success in a task. Applied to 5-14 levels, pupils could be judged to show "little understanding", be making "steady progress" or have "secure knowledge".

Ms Stark concluded: "It is important that we discourage the image of a level as a narrow rung on a ladder and draw attention to the potential development two years of schooling represents."

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