Assessment and Grading

Qualification and assessment structures continue to change and evolve under the Government’s curriculum reforms.

At William Howard School we have developed a KS3 assessment system that focuses on learning to ensure students are achieving at least in line with what is expected. At KS4 there is still a mixed economy of old and new GCSE courses leading to a different grading system, particularly in Year 11 but less so in Year 10. At post 16 little has changed to the grading system, although all qualifications have been reviewed and reformed and continue to be.

The information below will hopefully provide guidance and support to help you understand how well your child is progressing. If you require further support, please do not hesitate to contact me at school.  I appreciate in times of change there may be confusion and further discussion is needed.

Ms Pigdon (Deputy Headteacher) kpigdon@williamhoward.cumbria.sch.uk


Key Stage 3

Reporting

The first thing to outline is that each student receives three reports. Two are pure data reports showing their Attitude to Learning and whether your child is working at the expected standard. The third will contain the same type of data, but also have a written statement of a strength in each subject, along with a focused action point for improvement and a comment from the Headteacher on the students’ progress and internal exam results. The exact order of these varies between year groups to reflect key points in the year. A tutor evening and progress evening is also held at key times in the year to discuss your child’s progress further.

 

Assessment of Progress

The reports will show next to each subject whether a student is making progress in line with expectations, above expectations or below expectations. This is measured from their starting points and is based on what we expect the student to be able to achieve at the end of Year 11 in the new GCSE grading system.

A student in Year 8 or Year 9 who did leveled SATs will basically be working within a band of potential grades, similarly for Year 7 the raw score is used. These are based on the new GCSE grades, but roughly mean:

  • I got a Level 5 (105+ for Y7) – expected to achieve a grade 7 or better in my GCSEs
  • I got a Level 4 (95 to 104 for Y7)  – expected to achieve around a grade 5 in my GCSEs
  • I got a good Level 3 (below 94 for Y7) – expected to achieve around a grade 3 in my GCSEs

The new ‘average’ expected level of attainment will be a grade 5 (a borderline C/B roughly in current grades). So a student reached the expected standard in primary school if they got around 100 for Year 7 or for Years 8/9 they achieved a Level 4.

That said it has to be remembered that the content of the new exams is much changed so direct comparisons with old style grades is not very accurate. In Maths for example, the new GCSE has 50% more content than the one taken for the last time, last summer.

 

So why not provide the grades?

The answer is very simple. No school knows what these are precisely, no one has actually sat one of the GCSEs and actually there are no grade descriptors. That is why we are describing to parents that we believe that their children are currently working at a level that will enable them to achieve within the band as described above.

The only descriptors that exist are ‘guides’ around grade 2 (approximately current grade F), grade 4 (approximately current grade C) and grade 7 (approximately current grade A). These are no longer going to be set in stone, e.g. you can do so you will get… A set proportion of students will achieve each grade based on what the cohort did nationally in their respective KS2 tests.

So for example we know in this year’s GCSEs in Maths and English the same number of students as last year nationally who got A*/A will get a grade 7 or higher. The bar for the grade 9 is not though a standard to be met, but will be a set percentage of those who get above a 7. That may mean a 9 has a pass mark of 89% say, or indeed 98%, what one year group will do in order to get a grade 9, will be different to the next potentially.

Therefore, giving students precise grades on reports is false, unhelpful and until more data becomes available from the exams as they are sat, just inaccurate. Our assessment matrices are changing and evolving as staff get provided with more details and information. Eventually we will arrive at a situation where the Department for Education hope to set centrally targets for every student and they think this may be possible for Year 9 in 2019 (current Year 6 students).

It is for that reason that I would encourage parents to talk to subject staff about progress, as it is skills and knowledge that students need to concentrate on developing and do not be transfixed on arbitrary boundaries that actually are not set and will not actually be known for any year group exactly until post the siting of their GCSEs.

The staff of the school do understand the system that is being introduced and ensure that the challenge of the curriculum is appropriate to enable the students to achieve their long term targets.

 

What does it look like in the Classroom?

The assessment within the classroom uses a learning criteria model appropriate to each expected standard. For example, students who are expected to be working at the standard for a 7, will be taught and assessed by the learning criteria for a 7 (see grid below). As a school we have looked at the demands at GCSE for each particular grade for each subject as accurately as possible and written the learning criteria that will enable students to be working at that level when they start their GCSE courses in Year 10.

PE Assessment Grid Example:

assessment-tracker-pe-example

History Assessment Grid Example:

assessment-tracker-history-example


Key Stage 4

Reporting 

In Year 10 and 11 each student receives three reports. One is a pure data report showing their Attitude to Learning and the grade that they are expected to achieve at the end of Year 11, if they were to continue to perform at their current rate of progress. The second will contain the same type of data, but also have a written statement of a strength in each subject along with a focussed action point for improvement, and a comment from the Headteacher on the students’ progress and internal exam results. The third report is a data and tutor comment report, which will also have a comment from the Headteacher about current progress. The exact order of these varies between year groups to reflect key points in the year and when progress evenings are.


Assessment of Progress

Each subject will report the grade that they believe your child will achieve at the end of Year 11, if they were to continue progressing at their current rate. The reported grade should be at least the same as the target grade if your child is deemed to be achieving. In year 11 students will receive the following grading:

  • A*- G – All GCSE subjects except Maths, English and English Literature.
  • 1 – 9 – English, English Literature and Maths.
  • Pass/Merit/Distinction – Vocational BTEC subjects

In Year 10, the majority of GCSE subjects will be on the new 1 – 9 grading system. BTEC and vocational subjects are unchanged.

What the new GCSEs mean – A guide for parents and carers

Why are GCSEs in England changing? – Information from the Government
Click here to view further information about the new grading system


Key Stage 5

Reporting 

In Years 12 and 13 each student receives three reports. One is a pure data report showing their Attitude to Learning and the grade that they are expected to achieve at the end of their examination year, if they were to continue to perform at their current rate of progress. The second will contain the same type of data but also have a written statement of a strength in each subject along with a focused action point for improvement and a comment from the Headteacher on the students’ progress and internal exam results. The third report is a data and tutor comment report, which will also have a comment from the Headteacher about current progress. The exact order of these varies between year groups to reflect key points in the year and when Progress Evenings are.

 

Assessment of Progress

Each subject will report the grade that they believe your child will achieve when they sit their examinations at the end of the year. The reported grade should be at least the same as the target grade, if your child is deemed to be achieving. In Year 12 students will receive an A – E and in Year 13 students will receive and A*- E.