Assessment without levels

Assessment in the context of the National Curriculum

The DfE’s Review of the National Curriculum in 2011 resulted in the Curriculum with which all maintained schools now work. This development was supported by detailed advice in the form of a Report by an Expert Panel on the construction and content of the new National Curriculum. The Panel was unequivocal about the importance of Assessment, Reporting and Pupil Progression, stating that the way in which the achievement of pupils is assessed and reported has a profound impact on the operation of an education system…’ The Framework for the National Curriculum: A report by the Expert Panel for the National Curriculum Review, December 2011, Chapter 8.1

The Panel’s concern for Assessment, Reporting and Pupil Progression to concentrate on high expectations for all and focus on specific curriculum content as opposed to the generalised concept of levels, was clearly expressed:

We have … opted to recommend an approach to pupil progression that emphasises ‘high expectations for all’ – a characteristic of many high-performing jurisdictions. This conveys necessary teacher commitment to both aspiration and inclusion, and implies the specific set of fundamental achievements that all pupils should attain. Chapter 8.17

… all assessment and other processes should bring people back to the content of the curriculum (and the extent to which it has been taught and learned), instead of focusing on abstracted and arbitrary expressions of the curriculum such as ‘levels’. Chapter 8.24

For further background see also:

The national curriculum for England to be taught in all local-authority-maintained schools.

Primary Assessment Consultation (2017)

Commission on Assessment Without Levels

Some links exploring the implications for assessment in the National Curriculum

This area of the AAIA website has been developed to support both primary and secondary teachers in addressing the opportunities and challenges for assessment within the National Curriculum.  Guidance has been structured in a series of website pages addressing key questions and has been designed to support schools in developing and refining their assessment practice. In particular, the guidance addresses how:

  • formative assessment/assessment for learning should continue to be integral to effective learning and teaching because supporting learning is assessment’s most important purpose
  • embedded/mastery learning should be a fundamental characteristic of learning within the National Curriculum and how assessment can support a commitment to aspiration, inclusion and high expectations for all pupils
  • formative and summative assessment are inter-related and how evidence generated by day-to-day learning and teaching, informed by formative assessment, can provide evidence over time for summative assessments; in turn these can be used to help track progress, evaluate teaching and learning, report outcomes and provide information for inspection and accountability purposes
  • summative assessments can be made directly in relation to the curriculum without the need for levels

The guidance also summarises current statutory assessment requirements and the expectations for assessment in the latest Ofsted framework.

The pages available below explore these and associated issues, and provide links to a range of informative materials, publications and websites:

What are the fundamental principles and purposes of assessment?

Currently, what are the statutory requirements for assessment in primary schools?

What are the statutory requirements for assessment and accountability in Key Stages 3 and 4?

Does the school’s assessment practice support pupils’ learning as it happens through the skilled and intelligent use of formative assessment? Do pupils develop as autonomous learners?

How can schools ensure that pupils’ learning is embedded and as many pupils as possible achieve the required standards of the National Curriculum? (Available soon)

How can pupils’ attainment and progress be assessed without using levels?

How can attainment and progress be recorded and tracked?

What is the place of periodic testing when assessing in the National Curriculum?

What will the new Ofsted framework expect in relation to assessment, recording and tracking?

Currently, what accountability measures are used to judge attainment and progress in primary schools?

How can schools report pupils’ progress to parents and carers in a way that is clear and accessible? (Available soon)

What assessment information should be provided for secondary schools at the time of transition?

See also:

Primary school accountability

Secondary school accountability

Assessment as learning

Assessment Reform Group