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OfSTED Curriculum Research Reviews

OfSTED has released a series of curriculum research reviews on a range of subjects. These aim to support and inform those leading the thinking on subject education in schools.

Each of the reviews tackles the use of assessment in curriculum plans and suggests that using a range of assessment approaches will most likely ensure that assessment captures the range of knowledge that pupils need.

Formative and Summative Assessments

Teachers can use formative and summative assessments to determine knowledge development within a subject. In addition, teachers can consider how pupils approach assessment tasks and gain information about their attitude to learning as well as their progress.

A range of evidence suggests that using a combination of formative and summative approaches will likely be most useful in supporting curriculum planning. This means that teachers in schools need to understand the difference between these two types and work out how they can use them most effectively

Formative assessment is ongoing, and pupils’ progress is closely monitored. It deserves to be embedded in teachers’ professional routines, as it provides a wealth of information about their own teaching practice and how pupils are understood by their peers. This means that students, parents and teachers share a common understanding of achievement standards and progress.

Collecting data on an ongoing basis is essential in ensuring that teachers can monitor individual pupils’ progress and gain a clear understanding of the factors affecting their learning.

Summative assessments are often used in schools to judge whether students have mastered certain knowledge, skills and understanding. They are intended to summarise what learners have learned over an extended period of time (for example, at end-of-year exams). Summative assessments usually look back rather than forward. Still, they may also be used to look forward: for example, by setting targets for the future learning at the beginning of a subject area. However, suppose the assessment is being done only once per year. In that case, likely, it will only measure how much progress pupils have made over the year rather than looking forward and showing what they could achieve if given more teaching and learning opportunities.

Purpose of Programme Assessment Plans

The purpose of programme assessment plans is to provide guidance and support for the ongoing thinking behind curriculum planning. The aim of these plans is practical as they work to offer guidance on the use of assessments throughout the curriculum. They also suggest how different assessments can be used in order to ensure that all pupils are given a diverse range of approaches. The reviews outline an understanding of formative and summative assessments as well as highlight their importance in schools. Formative assessments are ongoing and provide information about teaching practices and pupils’ understanding of other peers. In contrast, summative assessments are done towards the end of the year to judge whether students have mastered certain knowledge, skills, and understanding.

Assessment plans differ from school to school as they are placed in the context of specific teaching and learning contexts. They also give clear information on how these assessments can be used effectively to support teachers and learners. The purpose of an assessment plan is not only to provide schools with guidelines but also act as a tool that enables all members of staff to ensure that pupils receive fair treatment while being assessed. This will include the following:

  1. Ensuring that there is consistency between different types of assessment

  2. Making sure that effective use is made of any resources available for assessing pupils’ work and/or performances

  3. Implementing ways by which such assessments can be designed so as to best to measure progress towards objective standards

  4. Establishing procedures for the administration and processing of assessments, including ensuring that pupils receive timely feedback on their work

Assessment plans have been seen to be successful in education as they are able to meet many of the practical and theoretical requirements for assessment in curriculum, especially if they are designed with attention directed at meeting these different needs.

Stedfast Assessment Plans

Using assessment plans, education and training providers are able to design and develop high-quality knowledge and skills programmes, define their intent, measure impact and improve quality. Stedfast Assessment plans are flexible and easy to use.

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