The portfolio approach
The cambridge Assessment for Primary Schools materials for Assessment for Key Stage 2 Mathematics have been carefully written by an experienced team with the aim of allowing teachers maximum flexibility and ease of use. This package has also been extensively trialled in schools.
Based around twin themes of "Parties" and "Our School", the core of the book is the 68 photocopiable questions and activity sheets addressing attainment targets 1, 2, 3 and 4, usable with individuals, groups or a whole class.
A simple key allows the teacher to see which questions relate to each level descriptor. So, for example, if you are looking for material to assess the state of pupils' knowledge of "begin to use fractions identifying halves and quarters" (AT2, level 2) before commencing a unit of work on fractions, you can see very quickly that questions 7 and 9 within one topic and 3 and 7 in the parallel one will allow you to do this. This would be helpful in gaining an idea of the amount of differentiation needed before you start to plan. As a free-standing resource this looks a very useful package.
A different approach to assessment is offered by the two substantial volumes constituting the mathematics component of Scholastic's Portfolio Assessment series - Maths Assessment: Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The portfolio approach places emphasis on the assessment process as an ongoing dialogue with the child, helping to build up a collection of work which provides evidence of continuity and progression.
The photocopiable sheets have more of the flavour of activities or tasks than tests, acting as vehicles for qualitative teacher assessment rather than providing scores or marks. This is an ambitious approach. For best results, though, the themes employed need to be incorporated into your teaching.
Fortunately, teachers are likely to find that the kind of quality activities suggested here will be compatible with the more focused teaching required by the national numeracy strategy when it arrives.
Laurie Rousham teaches a Year 4 class in Ipswich, Suffolk