‘Testing the Water’ and the Future of Assessment

4 December 2017

Author: Alex Quigley, Director of Huntington Research School

This past week, LKMco and Pearson, released a new report on assessment in schools, entitled ‘Testing the Water‘. It is a really helpful document for school leaders as it surveys the turbulent waters of assessment, whilst offering us some ballast as we steer our future course through choppy seas.

The report surveys attitudes from teachers in the classroom. Rather unsurprisingly, the results are rather depressing with regard to how teachers lack confidence in dealing with assessment – especially given it is such a fundamental aspect of effective teaching and learning:

  • “Only one third of classroom teachers feel ‘very confident’ conducting assessment as part of their day-to-day teaching.
  • One in five classroom teachers would not know where to look for information on assessment if they needed it.
  • Under half of teachers received training in assessment as part of their initial teacher training, and teachers’ access to assessment training over the course of their careers is far too limited.
  • The need for training is greatest at the chalkface; classroom teachers are less likely than their more experienced colleagues to have access to ongoing professional development in assessment.”

The report unpicks the complex interrelated aspects of assessment, as it is bound to teacher workload, national assessments, teacher and school performance, OFSTED accountability, and more. Clearly, any change in school practice needs to be carefully considered and steered with expert leadership.

Like any good report, it offers food for thought and debate. The ‘Workshop questions‘ on page 11 could form a very powerful leadership meeting discussion in any school. The insights for ‘What are the ways forward?‘ are of course essential for us to consider too.

The report was pulled into the rocks of shock headlines about trainee teachers failing assessment tests before they have even began teaching proper, but the reality of the report is lots of sane recommendations, like devising a ‘Central Assessment Bank‘ with diagnostic questions etc., alongside articulating the need for teacher CPD to better understand reliable assessment.

It goes onto explore the obvious challenges that relate to assessment and accountability, with the obvious knock-on for teacher workload:

Testing the water accountability

Huntington School were very happy to support the evidence base for this report. We recognise that the challenges of the new curriculum that face our students are mediated through assessment and so getting it right is paramount. If we tackle the meaty issues raised by this report – at a policy level, as well as at school level – then our students will benefit most.


Posted on 4 December 2017
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