Magic markbook

9th June 2000 at 01:00
Lynne Taylor's step-by-step guide to assessment with free support materials on the Online website.

Since January, I have offered help and support materials to develop assessment data manipulation and published documents and templates on the Internet - I hope a visit to has saved time and let you focus on teaching. So as the academic year draws to a close it's worth summarising management issues that can be addressed using our methods.

Since the start of the year the Department for Employment and Education (DFEE) has issued several directives directly relating to our work, in particular to the transfer of pupil records, to threshold payments and to performance management.

Transfer of pupil records Pupil information transferred between schools has varied from a slip of paper to a portfolio of information dating back to nursery class. So the DFEE's rationalisation of the content of pupil records, offering not only guidelines but a statutory minimum, is most welcome. This transfer of information is mostly going to remain paper-based but the DFEE has offered templates in Word and PDF formats: find these at The major schools' administration systems have also developed procedures for the extraction of transfer information from their systems' databases. However, a spokesman from Capita summed up the mood when he said: "The sooner we make all transfer information fully electronic the better. It will save schools untold time and worry. We're just waiting for the DFEE's final specification."

Threshold payments By the time you read this, the deadline for applications for threshold payment will have passed. The advice we have given you should have been helpful to complete the last part of section two - teaching and assessment - and section three, pupil progress.

Performance management Most schools I support have already built up comprehensive electronic pupilassessment records. Many heads ask me how these relate to future performance management strategies and although most have received training on the theory, few know how it will work in a real school. (For details of the requirements of performance management go to and

I believe high-quality assessment data is the key indicator of the performance of local education authorities, schools, teachers and pupils. Performance management cannot begin without it. But even with it, it would be inaccurate and unprofessional to leap to conclusions. Performance management should be something that develops in the school, not something presented by senior management as a fait accompli.

The assessment cycle (Magic markbook, March) and a performance management cycle are the same process. On our website I have started a framework for the inclusion of performance management but, like you, I am still learning; all contributions and suggestions for this area of Magic markbook are welcome.

This is an important time in the assessment tracking cycle. In many of my support schools, we aim to ensure that on the last day of term teachers have comprehensive details of prior related achievements and have set realistic targets for the pupils they teach next year. Senior managers should not only have a summary of these but also be able to:

* ensure target predictions are in line with the school's Performance Assessment Data reports (see autumn package at;

* implement curriculum development resulting from assessment analysis;

* support all staff in the self-assessment of their performance.

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

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