Get judgmental

21st May 2004 at 01:00
Liz Craft gives guidance on assessing key stage 3

This summer, for the first time, schools are required to assess citizenship for all pupils completing key stage 3. By now, schools should have provision for the subject and be developing assessment strategies. But how can citizenship be assessed? This is the question I am most often asked by teachers. There are three important points to consider when planning assessment:

* First, citizenship should be a distinct subject at KS3 and 4. The programmes of study need time to be taught and assessed. Evidence from Ofsted inspections and from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority shows that most schools have chosen to provide citizenship through PSHE programmes or other subjects. Often the citizenship remains hidden and this makes assessment problematic. How can pupil progress be assessed if teachers are not clear where it is being taught and pupils not aware they are learning it?

* Second, citizenship is an active subject. It involves pupils in active learning and participation, for example through discussion and debate and taking action with others on real issues in their schools and communities.

The programmes of study have three interrelated strands: developing skills of enquiry and communication; participation and responsible action; and knowledge and understanding about becoming an informed citizen. When assessing citizenship, an equal weighting should be given to each so skills are valued as much as factual knowledge.

* The third point is that assessment should be both formative and summative. It should reflect the principles of assessment for learning.

Pupils need opportunities to set goals and plan how to achieve them and should receive regular feedback. Pupils have a right to know how they are doing so they know where to go next.

There is also a place for summative assessment. End-of-KS3 assessment involves teachers making a judgment about pupil progress. This can be achieved with a record-keeping system with examples of pupils' work, for example, a citizenship file, a student record book or diary. Some schools are adapting progress files for this purpose.

A judgment should be made on the basis of several pieces of work of different types where pupils demonstrate what they know. Schools could use planned assessment tasks (perhaps one or two a year), where pupils know in advance they will be assessed and are clear about the standards they should aim at.

This ensures all pupils in the cohort are assessed systematically and judgments can be standardised. The school should keep a record of the judgment for each pupil. The QCA has suggested using three categories to describe attainment - working towards, working at, and working beyond the end of key stage description. Schools do not have to submit information about citizenship to the Data Collection Agency.

* For further information see citizenship at key stages 1-4 guidance on assessment, recording and reporting at: Examples of pupils work to illustrate standards: Liz Craft is QCA consultant for citizenship

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