As we hit the half way point in the year, I’ve begun to think more purposively about the end of year expectations for KS1. As head of year two this year, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the interim assessment materials that have (or conspicuously haven’t) been appearing on the DfE website.
I must admit that there is a certain comfort in having statutory assessment standards. Without getting into a debate around when and how we should be assessing kids in primary (my tongue in cheek thoughts on that subject are here), it simplifies things massively to simply work against a checklist that has been handed down by the government.
Last year, as a year 6 teacher, I happily highlighted APP grids throughout the year, gaining a picture of exactly what a child had shown they could do in some piece of work or another, and what they still had to achieve to meet the next sub-level threshold. I’d select those gaps (say, ‘using adverb openers’) and add it to a target list in the front of the child’s book, so that they could do that in the next session(s) and I could highlight it off.
This practice, which was common across primary schools, was one reason that levels were abolished. We were all falling victim to Goodhart’s Law: when a measure becomes a target, it fails to become a good measure.
Learning from their mistakes, the guidance that accompanies the Interim Assessment Framework for KS1 states clearly that
“Individual pieces of work should be assessed according to a school’s assessment policy and not against this interim framework.”
This statutory interim framework is to be used only to make a teacher assessment judgement at the end of the key stage following the completion of the key stage 1 curriculum. It is not intended to be used to track progress throughout the key stage. (my emphasis)
Best practice, then, would involve a teacher not even seeing the framework until the data submission deadline, at which point they would review “a broad range of evidence from across the curriculum for each pupil,” which includes the score attained in the SATS.
This is just what we will do, then, I thought to myself. We’ll follow the guidance and make our judgements at the end of the year, drawing on a broad range of evidence and checking each of the statements in reading, writing, maths and science has been met.
Then it struck me just what this meant:
Let’s start with a class teacher taking one pupil. They will need to take out all of their work for the year, and then take out the interim framework to check that each statement has been met.
For Reading, this means:
6 statements in the Working Towards the Expected Standard section (which must all be met to gain working at)
7 statements in the Working at the Expected Standard section
(with the possibility of 3 statements Working at Greater Depth)
Cumulative Judgement Count: 13-16
For Writing, this means
6 Statements WTES
12 Statements WAES
(and possibly a further 5 statements for WGD)
Cumulative Judgement Count: 31-39
For Maths, this means:
7 Statements WTES
11 Statements WAES
(and possibly a further 11 statements WGD)
Cumulative Judgement Count: 49-68
For science, this means:
12 Statements WAES
Cumulative Judgement Count: 62-80
So, for each child, a teacher will need to make a minimum of 62 judgements, with the possibility of 80 judgements if you have a high flying class (which you should).
Now obviously, most teachers have 30 children. That means that each teacher needs to make 62 x 30 judgements, or 1,860 judgements, rising to 2,4oo judgements if you have a high flying class.
Each of those judgements should be arrived at considering a broad range of evidence. And they should only be made at the end of the school year, once Key Stage 1 is finished. And clearly they can’t be spread out, or some children would be unfairly advantaged (since they’d have more time to produce work that meets the statements of the standard.
Let’s suppose that each judgement takes just 2 minutes (which would hardly allow enough time for a sound judgement, considering a broad range of evidence), that means 4,800 minutes (or 80 hours) of assessing in the final week before data submission. This is before we’ve moderated across classes. And obviously during that time we’ll still need to plan, resource, mark and teach as usual.
So my question to the Standards and Testing Agency and the Department for Education is this: when will I be allowed to sleep?