Changes to KS3 assessment
KS3 is the stage in each child’s education covering Years 7, 8 and 9 in secondary school.
A part of the 2016 changes to the KS3 National Curriculum included the removal of the assessment system at KS3 called ‘National Curriculum Levels’. This was a governmental decision. The impact of this decision was to require schools to create their own assessment schemes to track and monitor student progress.
Students entering KS3 no longer receive National Curriculum levels (expressed as 4a, 5b, 3c etc.) from their KS2 (Primary School) tests. Students leaving KS2 in 2014 and 2015 received what was called a ‘KS2 Fine Point Score’ (KS2 FPS) and students leaving KS2 from 2016 received a standardised score (with a score of 100 or more being a pass). These were based on tests taken at the end of year 6.
What we mean by 'learning'
In order to quantify progress it is useful to be clear on what we define as learning. We define learning as a change in long term memory, which has both durability and flexibility. By this we mean that for something to have been learnt, students must be able to remember this the following day, two weeks later or several months later. They must also be able to apply what they have learnt to new situations and in new contexts. Each subject area has a subject-specific progression model which sets out how students will progress through the content to be learned. The curriculum is the progression model and is rooted in what we expect our pupils to know at each particular stage.
Our approach to assessment
We have taken a three-pronged approach to assessment. At the classroom level, teachers use ongoing assessment to check pupils’ understanding of the main curriculum elements. They then respond appropriately through their teaching, with an expectation that the information captured from assessment is used not only for identifying gaps in pupils’ knowledge, skills and depth of understanding, but also to inform and improve on future curriculum design. At the Department Level, each department has set out how they will periodically establish the overall progress a pupil is making using a broad range of assessment materials such as end-of-unit testing, essays, artifacts or performances. These judgements are shared with parents at three points during the year. At the whole-school level, we have set out assessment windows across the year in which pupils will sit standardised tests. So that we can have maximum reliability in our testing, these tests are not seen by subject teachers in advance, are marked 'blind' so that the marker does not know who's test paper they are marking and are sat in standard conditions in the school hall. The results are also converted into a scaled score and shared with parents.
A scaled score is used so that it is easier to compare a pupils performance across subject areas and in relation to their year group. 100 is made the avergae score for the year group and a score between 85 and 115 is considered statistically average. A score below 85 is low and over 115 is high. The full range of scores are between 70 and 130.
KS2- Information from primary School
This shows the results of the KS2 (end of primary school) national tests. This is in the form of a “scaled score” for English, Mathematics and Reading. The scaled score has 100 as the governments expected pass mark and the test results are within the range of 80 to 120.
CATS (Cognitive Ability Tests) scores
All students in Year 7 sit a range of tests called “CAT” which stands for The Cognitive Ability Tests. This is designed to give a measure of a student's reasoning (thinking) abilities. The tests are taken early in Year 7 and give useful information that we can share with teachers to best support your child’s learning. There are four pairs of tests which assess different aspects of a child’s ability. The first tests deal with “Thinking with words” in which students identify words with similar meanings. The second set of tests deal with “Thinking with numbers” in which students complete number series and look for relationships between numbers. The third set of tests is “Thinking with shapes” and students look for shapes with similar properties. The final test is “Thinking with shape and space” in which students look at folded shapes and pick out patterns. In the same way as the primary school tests, a standardised score (SAS) is given for each of the four sections and also as an overall score.