Home > Commentary, GCSE, KS3, Maths, Teaching > How to assess year 9

How to assess year 9

Earlier today I saw a tweet from Luke (@bettermaths) which said that the subject of those evenings #mathschat was “how should we assess year 9, in light of the new 1-9 grading system?”

This got me thinking about year 9. It’s a funny year group in general. Traditionally it falls within key stage 3, but in many schools these days it us counted as key stage 4. This year’s are in a stranger place still, as they will be the first year to go through the new KS4 curriculum and sit the 1-9 exams. And they will do this without having done the new KS3 curriculum, never mind the KS1/2 curricula. This means they run the risk of having gaps in the assumed prior knowledge where said assumed knowledge is on the new curriculum but not the old.

It is important schools address this this year. We need to ensure that we are equipping year 9 with the requirements to access the new curriculum. Edexcel have drafted a transition curriculum for year 9 that is freely available on their website. (I don’t think the other boards have, if you know they have send me the link and I’ll add it!) As all the boards are using the new curriculum with no additional content, this transition scheme should help if you haven’t yet put anything in place.

So how should we assess?

The answer here is pretty obvious to me. We should be assessing against the content they need to know, identifying the gaps in that content and using that to inform our teaching. I believe that that should be the main focus of all our assessment, particularly with this year group who face extra challenges.

I do, however, feel the question is intended to be about tracking, rather than assessment. I think it’s really asking “should we be using levels, a-g grades or 1-9 grades?” This to me is an entirely different question. And I see it as far less important. We are moving into a “life beyond levels” and I see that as an opportunity to take back assessment. To restore it to its former glory as a way to identify gaps, rather than a way to impose a linear model of progress onto learning that doesn’t take a linear form at all. I know at the recent #TLT14 event Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher) spoke about the removal of levels from reports at his new school and recently wrote this excellent piece in assessment.

So what are you suggesting?

Well obviously we need to have some progress tracking, but does it need to have a numerical value every half term? Should we even be collecting data that often? I believe Kev Bartle (@kevbartle) spoke at #TLT14 about how he’s moved his school to 2 data collections per year, believing that this will mean more accurate data, which I think is a good idea.

So what should we use?

We know, as teachers, what are students need to know to get where they need to be. We know their start points and we know where they need to be at each step. Should we even be quantifying this with numbers or letters? Could we nit be rating them as “On target”, “Above target” “Below target”? In a post level world where progress is king (fingers crossed progress 8 moves us away from a threshold pass!) should we not be assessing against, and reporting on, progress?

#mathschat is a twitter chat which happens Wednesdays at 8pm. Follow the hashtag to join in. And feel free to comment here if you have opinions on this, I’d love to hear them.

  1. October 22, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I definitely agree that having data points less frequently is likely to lead to more accurate data. Entering data points in the first half term, in particular, seems pretty pointless!

  2. November 13, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Reblogged this on ryanjhay79.

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