In the spirit of sharing, guinea pigs' assessment results revealed

23rd April 2010 at 01:00
Online pool of 100 schools' experiences will help teachers assess the new curriculum

The assessment bandwagon has started rolling at last. From this week, teachers' repeated complaints that they have little to go on in assessing the new curriculum have been partly answered.

More than 100 schools, which have been implementing new assessment approaches, have had the results of their labours placed online for others' benefit.

They have been chosen by Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) from more than 170 nurseries, primaries and secondaries, which have provided examples of their assessment in advance of the launch of the National Assessment Resource (NAR) later this year.

But LTS has warned that the material is not necessarily out of the top drawer. It is not the "gold standard", said Norman Emerson, programme director for assessment at LTS, which has been supporting the schools involved.

The focus was on experiences and outcomes in literacy, numeracy and health and well-being across the curriculum, he said.

The exemplars were credible, because they had been developed in "real classrooms".

Mr Emerson added: "I hope that people take the material in the spirit it is being given. It has been created by practitioners like them; it is not the finished article or the gold standard. It has not been quality assured."

LTS now hopes that teachers will review the materials, reflect on them and then respond by giving feedback via a form on the website. The best examples will make it on to the NAR, due to be launched in the autumn.

Mr Emerson continued: "In the past, we have taken a more linear approach to assessment: it has been about jumping across hurdles as quickly as possible. But now, it is about breadth and depth and challenge and asking young people to apply their learning in different situations."


- Darvel Nursery, East Ayrshire


I have explored numbers, understanding that they represent quantities, and I can use them to count, create sequences and describe order.

I use practical materials and can "count on and back" to help me to understand addition and subtraction, recording my ideas and solutions in different ways.

Darvel Nursery in East Ayrshire used books, such as Harry and the Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow, songs and rhymes to explore numbers with children and boost numeracy.

The first step, however, was to make sure staff had a common understanding of what numeracy development was all about, said headteacher Vicky Devlin.

"We talked about the steps you need to take so children have these skills."

Learning outcomes were identified and were broken down into stages. Staff then created mindmaps with the children to see what level they were at.

"We wanted to know how they thought they could learn more about numbers and where they saw numbers in the environment - on the telephone, on cars."

To ensure the children understood when activities began, staff used traffic lights, questioning and observation. They also filmed the children working, and used floor books to record their progress.

- Glaitness Primary, Orkney


Tools for Listening and Talking As I listen and talk in different situations I am learning to take turns and I am developing my awareness of when to talk and when to listen.

Technology I enjoy playing with and exploring technologies to discover what they can do and how they can help us.

Through my learning I share my thoughts with others to help further develop ideas and solve problems.

At Glaitness Primary in Orkney, pre-school and P1 pupils worked on the same outcomes. Pre-school pupils used Bee-Bots - programmable floor robots (pictured above) - to improve their listening, talking and turn-taking skills. P1 children, meanwhile, designed finger puppets.

Staff had to break down what they would expect from each class for each of the outcomes, explained depute head Ingrid Rendall.

"It was about really understanding and homing in on how the same things develop in three- and four-year-olds and in P1 children," she said.

Learning stories, teacher observation and questioning, traffic lighting and thumbs up were among the techniques used to assess progress.

"When I first started teaching, it was more task-led but now more thought goes into what you are getting them to learn and why," Ms Rendall continued.

- Dornoch Academy, Highland


I am learning to assess and manage risk, to protect myself and others (S1), and to reduce the potential for harm when possible (S2).

I can differentiate between pure substances and mixtures in common use and can select appropriate physical methods for separating mixtures into their components (S1 and S2).

I have contributed to investigations into the different types of micro- organisms and can explain how their growth can be controlled. (S2)

Dornoch Academy rose to the challenge of tackling health and well-being in science.

It was a bug-bear of science teacher Rebecca Machin that one unit of alcohol was commonly believed to be equivalent to a glass of wine. She set about dispelling the myth with her S1 and S2 pupils.

"The glass would have to be 125ml and 8 per cent of alcohol content for it to be equivalent to one unit," said the chartered teacher and school Curriculum for Excellence co-ordinator.

"No one drinks that now. If you order a large glass of wine in a restaurant, it's likely to be 250ml and 13-14 per cent, around 3.5 units."

She did a basic numeracy exercise with her S1 and S2 pupils so they could work out the number of units in different drinks. They also looked at fermentation, distillation and the impact of alcohol on the body.

She assessed them based on their ability to use labels to work out the units of alcohol present; the quality of their research into short- and long-term effects of alcohol on the body; and the quality of the advice they created.

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