Exams & Assessments

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Assessment Overview

Assessment at Dean Trust Ardwick is an integral part of the sequence of teaching and learning to assess to what extent the enacted curriculum has been understood by pupils within individual lessons and teaching sequences and then has been learnt in the long term. Assessment ‘data’ (which can be quantitive (such as individual small grain analysis of test papers) or qualitative (such as oral and written responses within lessons) informs future planning including lesson and curriculum content, delivery methods, homework planning and future assessment.

The sequence of assessment, can be envisaged in summary as below, where subject collaborative planning meetings (which occur at least every two weeks within the cycle) work to share best practice and use assessment data of all kinds to continuously improve teaching and learning across all Faculties; therefore continuously improving pupil progress.

Formative Assessment and Feedback at KS3 and KS4:

Formative Assessment is the assessment which is used within teaching sequences and within delivery to assess to what extent lesson content and concepts have been understood by pupils and to what extent the content is being learned. The way in which teachers at Dean Trust Ardwick use formative assessment and give feedback is described within our Feedback Policy.

The underlying principles of the feedback policy are for it be:

  • Meaningful – research informs practices so that feedback advances pupils’ progress.
  • Manageable – the policy eliminates any unnecessary workload around marking and feedback, and it encourages faculties to adjust their approach as necessary. Teachers are trusted to incorporate the outcomes into subsequent planning and lessons.
  • Motivating – marking and feedback will help to inspire pupils to make progress by focusing on their thinking and what they are doing with their feedback.

At the start of a sequence of learning teachers will share the goals/success criteria with pupils via Knowledge Organisers. Knowledge Organisers specify, in detail, the exact facts, concepts and precise definitions that pupils need to commit to memory. At Dean Trust Ardwick, high quality feedback should be an ongoing process during learning. Pupils’ work should be regularly monitored, gaps in learning should be identified, and feedback should be employed to address these gaps.

Different types of feedback work best depending on the stage of learning and therefore it is recommended that teachers adapt the type of feedback they give dependent on where pupils are in their learning.

At the beginning of a topic pupils are novices and will lack the knowledge to successfully perform a task. At this stage of learning corrective feedback is best suited so that any incorrect answers are addressed quickly, avoiding pupils remembering plausible wrong answers. During this phase of learning, teaching practice at Dean Trust Ardwick is responsive; teachers should consider how best to monitor learning, determine if pupils are achieving well and the willingness to adapt their teaching accordingly — in real time. Teachers utilise Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction with particular onus on asking questions and daily review to monitor learning within these phases.

Process feedback is needed as the pupils develop proficiency in a topic they are learning. During this stage teachers should reduce, delay and summarise feedback to promote the retention and transfer of key concepts. Practice at Dean Trust Ardwick involves teachers taking the time to read pupils’ work, identify common mistakes and misconceptions and design whole-class feedback sequences (improvement lessons). The work teachers are assessing should be the best piece of work that a pupil is capable of so that teachers can give meaningful feedback and not be distracted by ‘error-seeking’ feedback that does not move pupils forward in terms of the core aspects of their learning.

Self and peer assessment can benefit learners internalise success criteria and it can be used as a scaffold to help pupils produce work of a higher standard. Peer-assessment, where pupils are helping each other improve their work, has benefits for the person that receives feedback but also has benefits for the person who gives the feedback. At Dean Trust Ardwick teachers are encouraged to use self and peer assessment when it can effectively contribute to pupils’ learning. Teachers should use self and peer assessment following retrieval practice activities to provide feedback non-recalled information. Providing immediate feedback increases the likelihood that information will be stored to memory. Additionally, self and peer assessment could be used as a scaffold to produce work of a higher standard before teachers take in and read their books.

Based on these principles, each Faculty has their own feedback protocols which ensure that corrective feedback and process feedback are provided timely and at the precise moments needed during teaching sequences both during individual lessons (mainly via questioning) to address any misconceptions and inform short term planning and over the course of a learning plan. These protocols include how each Faculty addresses spelling, punctuation and grammar errors and provides feedback which aims to develop pupils’ literacy skills needed to communicate and clarify their knowledge within that specific subject.

Summative Assessment at KS3

At KS3, pupils complete a termly examination in each subject which is designed to be cumulative and assess to what extent the pupils have learned the curriculum across the Key Stage.  Exams are designed within Faculties to assess the pupils’ learning of the key powerful knowledge and their ability to clarify and communicate that knowledge. As such, exams mimic knowledge organisers and learning plans, in that, short answer knowledge questions are utilised followed by pupils being required to answer the overarching challenging questions which are designed specifically to enable pupils to be able to use, adapt and apply the knowledge they have gained.

Assessments are designed in this way to assess knowledge, understanding and skills, rather than limit the assessment and subsequently curriculum and teaching and learning at KS3, purely to GCSE style responses. Exams are timetabled in line with the Dean Trust assessment calendar. Feedback to pupils following these examinations follows the same sequence as formative assessment in which pupils will receive corrective and process feedback in improvement lessons.

Summative Assessment at KS4

At KS4, pupils in Year 10 and 11 complete a programme of mock exams in line with the Dean Trust Assessment calendar. For GCSE qualifications, pupils will sit two full sets of mock examinations utilising past GCSE papers in Year 10 and two sets in Year 11. This includes a set of externally marked ‘Trust Assurance’ mock examinations for EBACC subjects. For vocational qualifications, summative assessment is more varied and falls in line with the awarding organisations’ rubric and the planned unit completion timelines submitted to them. Where appropriate this includes coursework marking and submission, as well as mock examinations in preparation for externally examined units.

Feedback from mock examinations is provided to pupils within improvement lessons including at a small grain level to identify specific areas for improvement in relation to topic content and assessment objectives. Teachers utilise modelling within these improvement lessons to develop pupils’ understanding and address misconceptions.

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