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

Assessment of Progress

On entry to William Howard students are assessed to determine an expected standard of progress. This is based upon contextual, current and previous attainment data. SATS and/ or teacher assessment from primary schools is used to determine whether students are following the foundation, intermediate or higher learning pathway for each subject. A basic example of how the flightpaths are determined can be seen below:

  • Higher– SAT Score 105+ or deemed to be working beyond the expected level of attainment (at greater depth)  – expected to achieve a grade 7 or better at GSCE
  • Intermediate– SAT score 95 to 104 or deemed to be working within the expected level of attainment for his/ her age and expected to achieve around a grade 5 at GCSE level.
  • Foundation– SAT score below 94 or deemed to be working towards or below the expected level of attainment and expected to achieve around a grade 3 at GCSE level.

 

What does it look like in the Classroom?

Students will receive a flightpath grid for every subject and this will be used to assess progress on a lesson by lesson basis and to determine progress overall. Please see example below:

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. 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.

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 where the teacher believes the student is consistently secure in their learning. Classwork, homework and class assessments are used to determine whether the student is working where we would expect them to be given their starting point.

 

Attitude to Learning

Students attitude to learning will also be reported for every subject on every report. We whole heartedly believe when students have a positive attitude to learning they are more likely to achieve their potential. Students will fall into one of three attitude to learning categories as shown below:

 

So why not provide grades to show how students are doing?

The answer is very simple. No school knows or can predict these precisely – there is no benchmark of achievement that gets you any grade. The system is now one based on proportion and prior attainment. The grades awarded are mainly determined by the ability of the cohort nationally when they were in Year 6 compared to other year groups and previous national GCSE results. Comparable outcomes mean that no matter the standards achieved in exams by students the number of grades at each level is only allowed to vary a very small amount.  The attainment level awarded in GCSEs is basically determined by where a student comes in a national ranking – they are measures of relative attainment (how they do compared to the rest of the cohort) not of absolute attainment (what they know). 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 a band of attainment as described above.

So, for example we know the same number of students each year nationally who got a grade 7 or higher will remain virtually the same. The bar for the grade 9 is not 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%, depending on how any particular year group performs in their exams.

Therefore, giving students precise grades on reports is false, unhelpful and just inaccurate. It is for that reason that we would always encourage parents to talk to subject staff about progress, as it is skills and knowledge that students need to concentrate on developing. 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 and ensure that the challenge of the curriculum is appropriate to enable the students to achieve within the bands of their long term targets.


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 Years 10 and 11 students will receive the following grading:

  • 1 – 9: GCSE subjects
  • Pass/Merit/Distinction: Vocational BTEC subjects

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.