We know that making assessment both manageable and effective is hard; interestingly this has been confirmed, as we publish the assessment papers described below, by a report from Pearson, Testing the Water; How assessment can underpin, not undermine, great teaching, which we think is consonant with what we have written
We also hear many stories of teachers who have been pushed into carrying out ineffective forms of assessment driven by accountability pressures more than the needs of students and their teachers.
While we believe that abandoning National Curriculum levels was broadly a Good Thing, we also understand that devising replacements hasn’t always been easy and that, in some schools, approaches based on one-size-fits-all-subjects haven’t, in fact, fitted the particular needs of assessment in design & technology especially well.
So, we were intrigued to see that the Schools, Students and Teachers network (SSAT), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) have produced of a series of Refocusing Assessment documents concerning English, geography, history, mathematics, modern foreign languages and science.
The documents consider four key questions for each subject:
- What does it mean to be successful in a particular subject?
- What is the purpose of assessment in that subject?
- What does progress look like in that subject?
- How can progress be assessed most effectively in that subject?
We were impressed with these documents and thought it would be useful to have one focused on the needs of design & technology; so, we have produced Refocusing Assessment – Design & Technology in which we explore the answers to these questions for our subject.
We are delighted that ASCL, SSAT, and NfER will be putting a link to these materials on their websites.
Writing the Refocusing document got us thinking in some detail about the process of assessment in design & technology, particularly assessment for learning in which feedback to students is of paramount importance. This led us to write the working paper Assessment in D&T, in which we consider three aspects of assessment:
- ‘in the moment’ feedback which takes place during learning,
- approaches to feedback at the end of design & technology tasks and
- how teachers might be able to know the impact of their teaching.
With the demise of levels, it is more important than ever that teachers are clear about what they want their pupils to learn, how to help pupils to achieve this learning and what success in that learning looks like. We hope that the approaches to assessment we have written about will help with these endeavours.
If you think they are realistic and are able to try them out in your school, we’d really like to know about your experience.
And if you think what we are advocating can be improved on, and have suggestions for this, we’d like to know about that too.
You can give us your views and tell us about your work by contacting us.