The aim of assessment at Ark Acton Academy

 

At Ark Acton Academy our approach to assessment enables staff to gather data and make evidence- led decisions to refine their instruction and enable students to progress. We need to know what students know and can do, in order to move them forward. The goal is then to improve the learner and their capacity for future work, not just improving the current piece of work or correcting a mistake in their book.

We believe that regular and spaced, low-stakes assessment is more beneficial in embedding learning than one-off high stakes assessments. Assessments are diagnostic, they allow teachers to ascertain pupil’s understanding and increase the validity of teacher judgements about student knowledge.

Short diagnostic assessments have varying frequency depending on the weighting of the subject in our curriculum. Subjects with 3-5 lessons a week will quiz on a weekly basis, subjects with 1-2 lessons a week will quiz every three lessons.

The importance of assessment

Better studying = less studying!

We know that those who take regular low stakes tests do better than those who study more. The harder the test, the greater the benefit to memory. Even if you don’t get the answer right, you still see a benefit as long as you get corrective feedback before the next test.

Frequent low stakes testing is beneficial because:

  • Testing interrupts forgetting
  • Easy to interleave topics
  • Allows for testing to be cumulative
  • AFL- good proxy for learning
  • Low risk, culture of error
  • Gains increase with frequency

 

 Types of assessment at Ark Acton Academy 

Bench-mark/ start of academic year/ on entry to academy

These assessments shape our curriculum implementation/ adaptation and yearly school-wide priorities/ additional support.

  • NGRT reading age assessments – all students in year 7 – 10.
  • GL progress tests in English, Maths and Science
  • Ark Maths fundamental skills assessment – all students in year 7 – 9 (Sept. 21). Year 7 only from Sept 22.
  • July “writing Age Assessment” in Humanities, English, MfL and Science. Representative sample of Year 7 and Year 10 extended writing compared with students from Ark Academy, Ark All Saints, Ark Elvin, KSA.

Pre-Unit

On-line MCQ quiz in Maths, Geography and Year 7 History. Designed to inform departmental co-planning of ACC delivery by identifying common knowledge gaps and misconceptions. HoDs have the discretion over the deployment of pre-unit quizzing.

Lesson by lesson

Heads of Department choose from a menu of formative strategies:

  • Hinge point questions/MCQ/Whiteboard Check for Understanding (CFU)/questioning- designed to ensure a high success rate is achieved before moving on. Misconceptions can be addressed within the lesson as they occur.
  • Do now’s. Each lesson starts with a five-question recap. This can pick up errors from previous lessons and should interleave in challenging material. Teachers can use the do now’s to revisit errors and explore them as a class when they are corrected.
  • Circulating with purpose - teacher circulates with pen in hand, checking students' understanding whilst students are working. Teacher responds to common errors in the moment.

Within a unit of work/ enquiry.

Heads of Department have the flexibility to choose which type of assessment will yield the most useful insights whilst not distorting the domain:

  • Low stakes diagnostic quizzing - at the discretion of the HOD, dependent on the subject discipline and lesson frequency.
  • Intentional monitoring- planned use of feedback codes during extended practice.
  • Exit tickets- Completed weekly, a summary of the week’s learning that teachers will use to inform their planning.
  • Sample review- after an extended piece of work teachers will take in a selection of books for the class to look for common misconceptions, errors and successes and will feed this back to students using a whole class feedback sheet or a re-teach in class.
  • Whole class feedback sheets- (used by all Departments) taking in a set of class books, reading them through, noting down key misconceptions, areas for re-teach, areas/students to praise and then tasks to move the student on (improve the student not the work).

Half termly

  • Performance - In most subjects this will be a piece of extended writing - but this will vary across subjects such as Art or PE. This will be reviewed by the teacher and whole class feedback given. This will be based on the content studied in that half term.

Termly

  • Network Diagnostic Assessments (40 online MCQs). All students sit forty questions on current and prior core content (from Ark Aligned Frameworks where provided). Data submitted to Ark.
  • Diagnostic quiz on core content where there is no network-wide assessment.
  • Performance - In most subjects this will be a piece of extended writing, but this will vary across subjects such as Art or PE. This will be reviewed by the teacher and whole class feedback given. This will be based on the year’s learning up to this point.

*Data from these two forms of assessment will be used to report to parents the % of the taught content that students have mastered and whether they are on track to achieve their target.

Yearly

Ark CCP and AAF subjects

  • Cumulative End of Year Exams set by Ark Network Subject Leads. Raw scores % will be submitted to Ark using Smartgrade and Ark will generate and report age-related grades.

This data will be used to assess progress and progress relative to network-wide measures.

All other subjects

  • Cumulative End of Year Exams set by HoD using relevant Ark format. Raw scores % will be recorded internally. School to generate age-related grades/ % mastery.

Yearly data is used to report to parents the % of content their child has mastered relative to the content taught and whether they have achieved / are on track to achieve their target.

 

What does this look like in student books?

All reteach, redrafting, corrections on mastery quizzes, do now’s, response to sample review or response to whole class feedback will be done in green pen by students to indicate this has taken place.

How do we ensure all students develop detailed knowledge and skills as they progress through the curriculum?

In order to ensure all of our students, regardless of starting point, achieve well and progress through the curriculum, developing the required schema, we have a codified model of review and analysis.

  1. Each teacher reviews the work students complete in their books at least once a fortnight as part of our Intentional Monitoring cycle. The use of this data is detailed above.
  2. Each Head of Department reviews the work students complete across a year group once every 2, 4 or 6 weeks depending on the cycle as part of our Quality Assurance model.
  3. Each SLT line manager reviews books with the Head of Department twice a half-term using a set proforma.
  4. The SLT as a whole review a random selection of student books across every subject twice a half-term in the SLT morning meeting.
  5. Each Head of Department carries out a termly data analysis and gap identification process that is reviewed with the Principal.
  6. Each Head of Department carries out the bi-annual Department Evaluation, (explained above) that they review with the Principal.
  7. Each Head of Department carries out an annual exams analysis that they review with the Principal.

This process ensures we can be clear about what a student does and doesn’t know relative to what the specified curriculum says they should know and enables us to take action in the moment to close gaps and address misconceptions.

How can the data gathered be used? 

  1. To inform staff training needs and curriculum design: Each department meets at the beginning of the year and analyses the assessments from the July exams. This enables each department to identify aspects of the curriculum which students struggled with. Each HOD then makes this area the focus of professional development activities over the year. They also ensure it is given more curriculum time and moved earlier on in the year to enable more retrieval practice to be embedded.
  2. To amend SOWs: When the department meet to discuss their bi-annual Department Evaluation and look at the available assessment data, they will notice trends within the attainment. They then identify particular areas where the planning and delivery can be strengthened for the following year and add this into their DE and amend their MTPs.
  3. To inform post-test re-teaching: After a mastery quiz or half termly assessment, time is built into the MTP to reteach the common errors and close knowledge gaps.
  4. To inform planning: Students complete an exit ticket, mastery quiz or extended performance element for sample review at the end of the lesson sequence. Each teacher reviews these and adapts the next lesson as necessary.
  5. Establishing high success rates: Using cold call, mini whiteboards or other questioning techniques to check understanding from a high proportion of students before moving on or re-teaching if necessary.
  6. To adapt teaching in real time: From questioning, the teacher realises there is a misconception within the class. They use this data to re-explain/re-teach a topic and then question again to ensure there is no longer a misconception.