Assessment cut to sensible levels

11th November 1994 at 00:00
Teachers have welcomed the new, broader "level descriptions" which have replaced the old statements of attainment. But they are concerned about how to use them, and about how teachers will interpret them consistently from one school to another.

The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority will be responding with examples of pupils' work that relates to the different levels.

SCAA chairman Sir Ron Dearing told The TES that advice on using LDs in the core subjects of English, maths and science would come out in the summer, and other subjects would follow later.

Education Secretary Gillian Shephard has lifted her crackdown on bumpf for this occasion. The statements of attainment notoriously led to massive tick-lists and atomised the curriculum. Now, there is no question that the programmes of study are the basis for what is to be taught. The level descriptions - one for each attainment target at each level - are aids to help teachers judge broadly which level of attainment fits each child.

Because the 10-level scale no longer applies to key stage 4, it has become the eight-level scale, with an extra category for "exemplary performance" for really high-fliers.

Concerns about consistency of standards have been heightened because of the Government's decision not to continue to fund moderation of teachers' own assessments. Sir Ron has reiterated his insistence that teacher assessment is equal to test results in status, and SCAA and the Office for Standards in Education are to issue guidance for schools.

The consultation report says: "SCAA's priority will be to ensure that assessment requirements do not overburden schools, teachers or pupils. Trials have been held this summer to investigate manageable approaches to the quality assurance of teacher assessment."

In a letter to schools Sir Ron and Chris Woodhead have reiterated that schools do not need to keep extensive records of their assessments. In moving to LDs, "We are looking to teachers to make a rounded judgment on which description best fits the overall performance of the individual child. There is no question of looking for an exact fit."

End of key stage descriptions for art, music and PE have been re-drafted to be more like the level descriptions.

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