9 Approaches to assessing Computing and ICT–#5: A Growth Mindset


The DfE recently announced the winners of its Assessment Innovation Fund: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-win-funds-to-develop-and-share-new-ways-of-assessing-pupils

The purpose of the fund was as follows:

By collecting and promoting examples of innovative approaches to assessment, we want to give schools ideas and options as they upgrade their systems in response to the removal of levels.

We are therefore asking schools and organisations to present their approaches to the Department: where needed, we can allocate funding (of up to £10,000 per unique application) to help create a simple, easy-to-use package for others schools to transfer and use in their own setting.

Each package will then be made freely available for other schools to access, download and use.

(See https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/268361/Assessment_Innovation_Fund_launch_doc.pdf )

Over the next week or so I will report on the winners and the descriptions of their approach. These descriptions are more like thumbnail sketches at the moment. I have used them to suggest ways in which they might be adapted for use in assessing ICT and Computing. I hope you find these suggestions useful, or at least a good starting point for your own further work.

In each case I have kept the text of the DfE’s announcement, and then added my thoughts under the heading “Applying this to Computing and ICT”.

Today: A Growth Mindset approach.

Durrington High School, Worthing, West Sussex (secondary)

The school describes its approach as a “growth mindset” that encourages pupils to improve their knowledge and skills using effort, feedback and resilience to aspire to excellence. In the first instance, the school uses key stage 2 data and other supporting assessments early in year 7 (eg CATs, reading tests, internal tests), to group students into 4 ‘thresholds’ based on their prior assessments - excellence, secure, developing and foundation. These banded thresholds of knowledge and skills can then be used to give students ongoing formative feedback, based on their day-to-day work, about how to improve and move through the thresholds, towards excellence. Summative assessments (half termly/termly) are used to further assess how well students are doing towards the end of the unit of work against each threshold.

Deputy headteacher Shaun Allison said:

The key goals of any assessment system should be simple. It should celebrate what students already know, whilst building their aspirations towards excellence and supporting them to achieve this, through high expectations and quality feedback. This is what our growth and thresholds model of assessment aims to do.

Applying this to Computing and ICT

I love the idea of a “growth mindset”. In the context of Computing and ICT, this approach would involve finding out what pupils already know, perhaps by setting a baseline test or task, or by asking diagnostic questions at the start of the year, term and each new piece of work.

By incorporating the results of such explorations into a formal assessment scheme you would be actively acknowledging pupils’ achievements outside school and/or prior learning.

As with any assessment approach you would need to be clear about the criteria for being put into each threshold in each area of the Computing curriculum.

See Assessment without Levels for a much more detailed exposition of the school’s approach.

Information from the DfE and Ofsted has been used in accordance with the terms of the Open Government Licence http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/2/

To read the first post in this series, please go to 9 Approaches to assessing Computing and ICT–#1: Skills Passport. To gain access to the whole series in one document, just sign up for Digital Education.

cross-posted at www.ictineducation.org

Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant with over 35 years of experience in education. He publishes the ICT in Education website and the newsletter “Digital Education."