Assessment overview at Ark Acton
Assessment at Ark Acton uses the common assessment across all Ark schools.
Fundamental aim: To ensure we have an assessment approach at Ark Acton that enables staff at all levels to make evidence-led decisions about how to refine their instruction and enable students to make continued progress.
“An assessment functions formatively to the extent that evidence about student achievement elicited by the assessment is interpreted, and used to make decisions that are likely to be better, or better founded, than the decisions that would have been taken in the absence of the evidence.” (Connecting the Dots: Formative, Interim, and Summative Assessment. (2011) G. Gage Kingsbury, Dylan Wiliam, & Steven L. Wise, NWEA)
At Ark Acton we believe that using frequent cumulative testing is more beneficial than a series of one-off high stakes assessments. We believe that this not only increases retention of content but increases validity of teacher judgements about student knowledge. Therefore at Ark Acton we see assessment as a continuous element of teacher instruction. We should spend most of our time thinking about this and not focusing on the data generated by stand-alone assessments.
All assessments at Ark Acton are inextricably linked to the curriculum and not to an external markscheme. The curriculum therefore is the progression model and so as a student progresses through Ark Acton the curriculum expands both in terms of size (amount of substantive knowledge being acquired) and depth (the increasing complexity of conceptual thinking taking place with the substantive content.) If students are learning what the specified curriculum states they should learn then they are by definition making progress.
Assessment Cycles at Ark Acton
To ensure that all assessment at Ark Acton is evidence-led and generates valid evidence the following cycle is adopted.
At Ark Acton we see assessment as taking on 7 main forms. These range from the big annual review of student outcomes to inform staff training needs through to a hinge question deployed in a lesson to make an informed decision about what to do next.
Formal summative assessment at Ark Acton
Formal assessments are essential in many ways and form the basis of all attainment tracking and monitoring at Ark Acton. They give teachers accurate information on the understanding of each child; they encourage children to reflect on their own understanding and revise independently and they prepare students for the rigours of external assessment at GCSE in Year 11, at A Level and eventually at University. Almost all GCSEs at KS4 are terminal and linear, therefore placing even more importance on a child’s ability to perform under pressure and recall knowledge learned over a long period of time.
Formal assessments show us which students need further intervention and support, and in which specific areas. They also allow us to improve the quality of teaching within departments and across the school as a whole. They keep parents informed of their child’s attainment and guide them towards how they can support further understanding at home.
Formal assessments are structured throughout the year in our assessment calendar. Each cycle has a block of initial teaching, a Revision Week, an Assessment Week and a Review Week. These serve several purposes:
- To highlight the importance of all formal assessments in the school.
- To ensure all assessments are preceded by thorough revision.
- To ensure all assessments are followed-up with detailed feedback and subsequent intervention or support.
- To ensure parents are kept informed of their child’s progress at all times and across all subjects.