Tag Archives: Assessment

Blog of the Week: 17 July 2020 – Assessing learning in the new academic year (Part 2 of 2)

Having explored the different purposes for school assessment in the academic year ahead in part 1, here EEF senior associate Prof. Rob Coe looks at the role of quality assessment in helping teachers understand how best to help your pupils regain any learning lost during Covid-19 school closures.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the most high-profile topics in English education proved to be the content and aims of the school curriculum. Too often, curriculum was the subject of debate, but assessment received too little attention.

Any consideration of curriculum should be inextricably bound to understanding quality diagnostic learning assessments. If you want to use assessments to tell you whether students have learnt something, you need to be clear what it is you wanted them to learn in the first place. Clarity about the intended learning (ie, the curriculum) is crucial if we want to create or select questions for an assessment that will tell us what has been learnt.

Ideally, this includes thinking about the sequencing and anatomy of that learning. When a learning aim or task is complex, clarifying the curriculum includes identifying …

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Blog of the Week: 10 July 2020 – Assessing learning in the new academic year

Assessment – to help identify pupils’ learning gaps following Covid-19 school closures – has emerged as one of the top priorities for schools preparing for the new school year. In the first of this two-part blog, Prof. Rob Coe, senior associate at the EEF, looks at the different purposes of assessment to help teachers and school leaders think through what you want to put in place for the autumn.

Since the Covid-19 closure of schools in England to most children, there has been a lot of concern about learning loss and widening gaps. The EEF’s own rapid evidence assessment has suggested that school closures are likely to at the very least reverse progress made to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers since 2011.

Many teachers have suggested that when children return to ‘normal’ schooling, assessment will be crucial to identify gaps and target catch-up strategies, while others have argued that cancellation of Key Stage 2 and GCSE exams proves we can live without them and perhaps should downplay these kinds of assessments in the future. 

Assessment can certainly help to identify what students have, or have not, learnt and …

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Blog of the Week: 3 May 2019 – What the marathon teaches you about education

In my book Making Good Progress I developed an analogy between education and marathon running. Put simply, you wouldn’t train for a marathon by trying to run 26.2 miles in every training session. And in the same way, you shouldn’t prepare for an exam by doing exam-style activities in every lesson. I’d never run a marathon at that point, but I was influenced in this analogy by work by Michael Slavinsky and Daniel Lavipour, two educators and athletes who gave an incredibly thought-provoking talk about education and sport at Globe Academy in 2015.

Last September, I got a charity place in the London Marathon for Robes Project, a south London homeless charity.  The many hours of training I am doing now have given me the chance to ponder the links between marathon running and education in even …

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Blog of the Week: 29 March 2019 – What to do after a mock? Assessment, sampling, inferences and more

A Chemical Orthodoxy

A common question in the #CogSciSci email group is what to do after students have done an assessment or a mock. Most commonly, people spend a lesson “going over” the paper, where the teacher goes through each question and students make corrections. There’s often some accompanying document for students (or teachers) to fill in tallying their errors in particular sections. Highlighting is normally involved. Personally, I don’t think this approach is hugely beneficial (for the time spent on it) and below I will explain why I think this and conclude with what I do.

Student psychologyproblems

The first thing to note is what is going through the students’ heads when you go over a test. Likelihood is, they aren’t really paying attention to the feedback, and are more focussed on the grade or score they got. In my experience this is because they are any of:

1) just plain upset and…

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Blog of the Week: 21 September 2018 – HMCI commentary: curriculum and the new education inspection framework

What do we understand to be the real substance of education?

That was the question I posed nearly a year ago, in a commentary on the initial findings of our research into the primary and secondary school curriculum. I argued that the vast, accumulated wealth of human knowledge, and what we choose to pass on to the next generation through teaching in our schools (the curriculum), must be at the heart of education.

The research underpinning that commentary showed that there was a dearth of understanding about the curriculum in some schools. Too many teachers and leaders have not been trained to think deeply about what they want their pupils to learn and how they are going to teach it. We saw curriculum narrowing, especially in upper key stage 2, with lessons disproportionately focused on English and mathematics. Sometimes, this manifested as intensive, even obsessive, test preparation for key stage 2 SATs that in some cases started at Christmas in Year 6. Some secondary schools were significantly shortening key stage 3 in order to start GCSEs. This approach results in the range of subjects that pupils study narrowing at an early stage and means that they might drop art, history or music, for instance, at age 12 or 13. At the same time, the assessment objectives from GCSE specifications were being tracked back to as early as Year 7, meaning many pupils spend their secondary education learning narrowed and shallow…

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Blog of the Week: 13 July 2018 – Comparative judgment: 21st century assessment

The Wing to Heaven

In my previous posts I have looked at some of the flaws in traditional teacher assessment and assessments of character. This post is much more positive: it’s about an assessment innovation that really works.

One of the good things about multiple-choice and short answer questions is that they offer very high levels of reliability. They have clear right and wrong answers; one marker will give you exactly the same mark as another; and you can cover large chunks of the syllabus in a short amount of time, reducing the chance that a high or low score is down to a student getting lucky or unlucky with the questions that came up. One of the bad things about MCQs is that they often do not reflect the more realistic and real-world problems pupils might go on to encounter, such as essays and projects. The problem with real-world tasks, however, is…

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Blog of the Week: 22 June 2018 – What if we cannot measure pupil progress?

Becky Allen

Testing and recording what students know and can do in a subject has always been part of our education system, especially in secondary schools where teachers simply cannot hold in their head accurate information about the hundreds of students they encounter each week. However, measuring progress – the change in attainment between two points in time – seems to be a rather more recent trend. The system – headteachers, inspectors, advisors – often wants to measure something quite precise: has a child learnt enough in a subject this year, relative to other children who had the same starting point?

The talks I have given recently at ResearchED Durrington and Northern Rocks set out why relatively short, standardised tests that are designed to be administered in a 45-minute/one hour lesson are rarely going to be reliable enough to infer much about individual pupil progress. There is a technical paper and a

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