Maybe nothing new, but it is always good to revisit some key messages.
So what’s new for Key Stage 1 statutory assessment? Well… not much actually. The Teacher Assessment Framework (TAF) hasn’t changed for this year, but please don’t stop reading. Even if there is nothing new to report and clarify, it still seems to make sense to run through some key messages from the annual Standards and Testing Agency (STA) training and possible things to consider in relation to building up to the statutory assessment window. I’ll only be referring to writing and reading here, but for more content and reference to maths, it is worth looking at this blog post from the last academic year since all the advice remains the same.
In addition to exploring teaching and learning ideas and moderating pupil work in reading and writing, we included an activity about the attainment gap in our recent Year 2 moderation clusters. It felt important to raise this as an issue since this attainment gap is very visible in Key Stage 1 results.
We wanted teachers to consider and discuss the variety of barriers that may have an impact on the attainment of our disadvantaged cohorts, and the different interventions or strategies that may help our pupils overcome these. The moral obligation teachers feel to address the impact of economic and social barriers to learning and achievement was clear and closely linked to the conversations about assessing pupils using the TAF. In particular, there were many discussions regarding how clear it is that for pupils with less exposure to varied experiences, language and books, securing the skills needed for Greater Depth in reading and writing would be difficult.
This is a discussion that we will need to keep going back to, and reflecting some of the ideas or strategies out there deserves a blog in its own right, so… watch… this… space.
In the meantime, please do check out the Education Endowment Foundation website. I am sure you are already familiar with elements of their work (such as the Toolkit), but there is so much in the way of guidance and inspiration to be found there. Their summary on Closing the Gap is a good place to start. Also, if your school hasn’t already been involved, the HfL Great Expectations programme is definitely worth looking at. Schools should already have been sent a copy of the book exploring case-studies from the pilot programme.
With that firmly staying in mind, let’s turn our attention back to the TAF and the statutory assessment window.
The annual training by the STA focussed wholly on writing, as usual, so it seems like the most logical place to start.
Given nothing in the TAF has changed, the training was more about clarifying elements of the TAF.
The major emphasis was on coherence with activities revolving around spotting the difference in the level of coherence needing to be meeting the first ‘pupil can’ statement for ‘working at the expected standard’ (‘write simple, coherent narratives about personal experiences and those of others (real or fictional)’) and distinguishing it from the corresponding statement from ‘working at greater depth’ (‘write effectively and coherently for different purposes, drawing on their reading to inform the vocabulary and grammar of their writing’).
Coherence is obviously about how well writing reads and whether it makes sense or ‘flows’, but the training made sure that this was broken down to highlight the range of elements that we would expect to be seeing in pupil work to demonstrate coherence. These ‘pupil can’ statements, more than any of the other statements at the respective standards require more to be apparent in writing, such as logical sequencing, consistent tenses, use of subordination and coordination, appropriate pronouns, different sentence types, using expanded nouns or vocabulary for effect and so on. These aspects that together create coherence are not intended to be assessed separately but rather taken as a whole. Where aspects are missing, the whole sense of coherence may be affected.
In order for a pupil to meet the ‘greater depth’ standard, this must also be done while ‘effectively’ having an impact on the reader and ‘for different purposes’. This is clearly showing the higher standard requires a developing awareness of the reader and how writing can be suitable for a variety of contexts. Along with the range of aspects of coherence, punctuation and grammar is obviously used to aid coherence and the effect on the reader as well as being appropriate for the purpose of the text. For the part about drawing on reading, it could be that the pupil matches their writing style and voice to the original text used for the stimulus or the model. Pupils working at greater depth will also be probably imitating styles and phrasing from their experience of different texts/language they’ve encountered before in lessons or at home or their own reading. This is of course harder for pupils to demonstrate if their experience of language is more limited, but I will deal with this in that future blog focussing on ideas for closing the attainment gap.
Another element of ‘working at greater depth’ that was discussed in the STA training was the statement ‘make simple additions, revisions and proof-reading corrections to their own writing’. The STA clarified that they view each of these as different, defining them as following:
‘Additions are words, phrases or sentences inserted into a text to enhance the overall effect.
Revisions are changes or removal of content from a text to improve effectiveness.
Proofreading is the process of finding and correcting mistakes in texts before publishing, for example, spelling errors, punctuation or grammatical errors.’
So for a pupil to be ‘working at greater depth’, we would expect to see all three of these types of editing across the collection. It is not necessary to have them in every piece, but across all of the pieces of work, we would expect to see evidence of this.
It is always a good reminder that when we are assessing writing, we are doing it over the range of writing in the collection rather than individual pieces. That means we need to make sure we have enough of a range of pupil writing that we can judge what skills have been secured when looking across them. It is important to have examples of pupil writing that demonstrate independence, however there is no need for special ‘assessment’ activities. For more detail about independence please see our blog from 2018 that explores this.
If you’d like more detail from the STA training, I am going to deliver the training that LA leads and moderators received on the 19th March at the ‘Be more moderator: Key Stage 1’ course. It is an opportunity for schools to hear all the exact same messages and work through all of the same training exercises as the moderators receive in their training. We trialled this with Key Stage 2 last year and it was such a success we wanted to roll it out to Key Stage 1.
For accurate assessment it is essential that we ensure the pitch of the text is correct. The STA do not offer extensive guidance about this. They say that teachers should refer to the reading test as a benchmark for what ‘age-appropriate’ looks like. They STA do not say that any particular book band is linked to any of the standards. Book bands can vary in different schools and even within a band, texts can vary, so it is difficult to come up with a particular rule for this. As a very general rule of thumb, we would say that for a child to be achieving the expected standard, they would probably be reading and accessing ‘white’ books in class/guided reading contexts, and perhaps very comfortably reading ‘gold’ books in school or at home.
GDS reading requires breath of reading beyond banding. Lack of exposure to books and language outside of school means that this puts some of our cohort at a disadvantage and means it is less likely they will be able to meet the GDS criteria. It’s worth us thinking about how we can increase exposure to texts from outside of the reading schemes, and creating opportunities for exploring and enjoying different texts whether it be whole books or excerpts or models (eg. letters). This sort of exposure would also help pupils in the reading tests where they are presented with unfamiliar texts. As mentioned above, this will be considered in a subsequent blog.
Make sure you are familiar with the STA exemplification for guidance on what to be listening out for from pupils and also the sort of questions that can help assess them accurately. This is especially relevant for GDS.
In a recent inter-LA moderation we discussed the statement ‘make links between the book they are reading and other books they have read’. This is a tough one to get written evidence for and most of the time evidence is likely to be expressed verbally. Of course, the sort of links pupils make need to be a little more sophisticated than ‘both stories have chickens’ or something similar. Links made about themes or authorial style or the types of characters that the book has would be far better evidence of a pupil meeting that statement. A pupil could be comparing the features of characters across different Roald Dahl texts, or comparing characteristics of types of characters – ‘are witches always ‘bad’?’ for example.
We often get asked about the sort of evidence that moderators would expect to see for reading. There isn’t a simple answer to this because there is no one ‘model’ of what sort of evidence should be gathered. There needs to be enough evidence in addition to the test to allow the teacher to have made a rounded, justified assessment judgement of the pupil. As always, we must remind ourselves that the test is just a piece of evidence to inform assessment and is to be considered alongside the variety of other evidence available.
Evidence can take all manner of forms – guided reading notes, running record, benchmark assessments, comprehensions, reading record/diary, reading activities like character mood lines or ‘open mind’ ones, anecdotal notes from teacher/TA and of course also, the evidence that teachers have in their head about pupils. Some teachers have started collecting video or audio evidence of children reading, but teachers should only do this if they find it helpful – there is no expectation that this will be happening. One school who found that pupils were put off by being recorded introduced a ‘reading tent’ with a dictaphone in it so that children could choose to go in there and record themselves reading and become more used to the process. What is nice about that is that the purpose is not all about summative assessment, but rather about pupils being able to listen back to themselves to help their reading develop. It always makes me happy when assessments are more formatively useful rather than just being about a snapshot for summative purposes. As always, we do not want statutory assessment to be the tail wagging the dog.
This brings us to the end of this brief look at key messages relating to the Key Stage 1 statutory assessment. We will, as usual, be hosting our summer Year 2 clusters where we will be supporting teacher assessment judgements in all three subjects (information about these will be sent out to schools in due time), but please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns regarding statutory assessment.
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19th March 2020 - Be more moderator: Key Stage 1 – writing standardisation training for teachers and school leaders. Book your place online