Friday, 21 September 2018

Ways to Ensure Consistent Assessment Judgements (and a guide)

Making consistent assessment judgements is so important in ensuring children are accurately assessed and their report truly reflects their abilities. The problem with making consistent assessments is their subjective nature, which means that each objective can be interpreted differently by each teacher. While there is no way ensure consistent assessment without cloning teachers, these tips will definitely help.

Training - The ability to accurately assess children doesn't always come naturally so it's important that all staff are given training on how to assess effectively. The task, level of support, resources and space all need to be considered in order to give children the best chance.

Assessment guide 
- An assessment guide or handbook can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to ensuring consistent assessment judgements. Teachers often like to have a reference guide and they gives them that extra confidence when it comes to assessments. By ensuring that the requirements are clearly laid out, there is little room for interpretation or opinion which plays a huge part in ensuring consistent assessments.

The guide includes
  • Objectives for each curriculum area of the EYFS Curriculum.
  • Examples of how children may demonstrate objectives. 
  • Guidance of what constitutes children emerging, developing or meeting expectation within an age-band.
This is something that has been implemented within our EYFS setting and has led to much more consistent and accurate assessment data.
Curriculum understanding - This is so key and it's something that I have previously noted as a big problem in ensuring consistent assessments. Curriculum objectives can be interpreted in many different ways and having a thorough understanding of what each objective really means and what a child would be able to do in order to achieve an objective is essential.

There are various ways to do this but some tried and tested methods that I have used with my team include:
  • Watching videos of children playing or completing activities independently, then identifying which objectives are being achieved, initially independently before sharing as a group. This opens up lots of discussion about what objectives mean and helps teachers to be on the same page. 
  • Provide evidence for an objective and discuss it as a team. What one teacher grades as achieved, another may not so this helps to align those views. 
  • Develop a guideline or narrative for each objective that teachers can refer to when assessing students. We did this together as a team so that everybody had a chance to input their thoughts. If you're looking for pre-made examples, you can find them in my Assessment Guide on my TPT and TES stores.
Team Assessments - When completing end of term assessments, it's helpful to assess children as a year group, particularly if you have a free-flow unit like we do. This ensures that conversations around individual child, abilities and judgements take place at the time of assessment. I often find that the discussions help you to re-think your judgements and ensure they are as accurate as possible. 

Moderation - Moderation is an essential part of the assessment process and it should be part of regular conversations about children's achievement. At the start of your weekly meetings, select a curriculum area and ask everybody to bring along three books along, contain work from a high, middle and low achieving student. Take 5-10 minutes of the meeting to discuss where the children are currently assessed at and discuss whether the evidence provided backs up these judgements. It's great to get in this habit.

Another way which I have previously moderated is by working with individuals to ensure that their ability levels match the assessment data. When leading a large team consisting of four year groups, it was difficult to be present in all of the year groups as much as I'd like so I didn't know the ability level of every child. Once teachers completed their assessments, I took their assessment data into the classroom with me and selected children at random to work with in order to verify the accuracy of the assessments.

When working in EYFS, I created an assessment guide which note only gives an example of the various objectives, it also identifies which objectives must be achieve in order for a child to be emerging towards, working within or exceeding an assessment band. This guide proved to be invaluable in our assessments and the data produced was more reliable than ever before as a result.

Check out my EYFS Assessment Guide in my TPT or TES store.

What strategies are in place at your school to ensure consistent in assessment judgements?

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