Clarity? What clarity? DfE response to NC consultation still ambiguous re assessment.

Janet Downs's picture
“We have been clear that we will not prescribe a national system for schools’ ongoing assessment…Schools will continue to benchmark their performance through statutory end of key stage assessments, including national curriculum tests,”  the Government’s response to the national curriculum (NC) consultation says.

So how did the Department for Education (DfE) publish its “clear” thought on assessment?  Was there a press release?  A major speech?   Was it leaked to the Daily Mail?  No, the document, Assessing without Levels was hidden in a dark corner of the DfE website following a question-and-answer session at the National College for School Leadership.  But the DfE cites this concealed communiqué in its consultation response as if it were a widely-publicised press release.  Clarity isn’t clarity when it’s obscured by a cloud.

So, will schools really be able to develop assessment systems which are no longer yoked to levels? No, because any system must still be benchmarked to “end of key stage assessment, including national curriculum tests.” These tests are measured by levels.  So it’s misleading for the DfE to say schools can devise their own assessment systems free of levels while saying any system must be benchmarked to a system which includes levels.

Squealer from Animal Farm would put it like this:

“Fellow animals, Napoleon says he will give freedom to those of you given the responsibility of educating young animals.  No longer will you be chained to a centrally-imposed assessment system.  You now have freedom to devise your own ways of measuring and reporting pupils’ progress.   And these systems need not be shackled to levels.”

“But your assessment systems must be fit for purpose.  So you will need to benchmark your system to statutory tests.  The levels laid down in these tests will act as a guide.  They will help you devise the most acceptable assessment system.  Napoleon would be only too happy to let you make up your own methods entirely unaided. But sometimes you might decide on the wrong method and then where should we be?”
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