It has been a busy term for all of us and you can bet there are many varied ways that schools, SLT and maths departments have been looking at the new curriculum and how to assess and track the students. Having been at a recent heads of maths meeting I am very happy to work in a great school with forward thinking SLT. We will not be reporting the old KS3 levels, unlike some departments. The heads of maths were in agreement that we need to report on the new curriculum we are teaching and not the old! After all, I would not assess my daughters bike riding ability by timing her cross country run!
The big question facing us all, especially in light of the new curriculum and only having brief descriptors for grades 2, 5 and 8 is how do we track progress of the students? I have thought about this for a long time, especially in the last 5 years as head of maths. I am in the fortunate position in that many of my friends are also heads of maths and that we share good practice.
So over the past few weeks I have started to implement a way of assessing that combines other schools ideas but also fits our school. It may take a while (a year?) to start to run its course but the approach is sound. It does rely on some solid foundations and consistency but it is definitely better than making up grades for the new curriculum and effectively guessing at where students are and will be.
The starting point is historical data. Students come in on X to secondary school and leave with Y. They will mostly fit a ‘normal’ curve and we could probably have a guess at their (old A*-C) GCSE grades from entry. Obviously we try our best to improve upon this but if you look at your school trends as a mathematician could you predict every year group now? Within 10%? within 5%? 2%? If you have some stability and effectively your department know what they are doing and all goes to plan then why not?
So we know where students starting points are (CATs tests, entry tests, FFT aspire predictions etc) and we could rank our students from 1 to n in the year group. Then, after each assessment point we are going to compare their current rank with predicted rank to see if students are working above/at/below expected progress.
We have up to 12 topic tests a year plus additional end of term and end of year tests. All of this will be for the new curriculum based on exam board assessments. Students current progress will be based on a moving average to factor in different abilities at number, algebra, shape, data, ratio and probability.
We realise that the system is not perfect but it is a good starting point to improve upon over time. We will tailor this for our own school to work for our students and it makes sense – more than any assessment model I have seen.
What do other maths teachers think? We would love to know how you are tackling this!