9 Approaches to assessing Computing and ICT–#6: Another Ladder Approach

The school feels that the ladders work extremely well as a practical checklist to inform students, parents and teachers of next steps in learning.
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The school feels that the ladders work extremely well as a practical checklist to inform students, parents and teachers of next steps in learning.


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: Another Ladder approach

West Exe Technology College, Exeter, Devon (primary and secondary)

Also using a ‘ladder’ approach (see 9 Approaches to assessing Computing and ICT–#2: The ladder), the school uses objectives driven by curriculum content. Each objective is a short, discrete, qualitative

Kevin Hadley, Assistant Headteacher said: and concrete description of what a student is expected to know and be able to do within a specific subject area and topic. In the interim, formative assessments act as periodic reviews of learning and in summative (end of topic) assessments. Accuracy of assessment judgments are moderated by experienced professionals to ensure consistency in their approach. The school feels that the ladders work extremely well as a practical checklist to inform students, parents and teachers of next steps in learning.

The judges were particularly impressed by the local collaboration that school has driven and the ‘all-through’ nature of their approach to assessment.

We’re delighted to have secured funding through the Assessment Innovation Fund which will allow us to share with other schools the great work we’re doing on assessment. As a school and member of the Exeter Learning Trust, we are always keen to share quality information with our parents and carers about the progress of their children.

Assessment Learning Ladders are helping us to further build a working partnership with parents and carers by making clear the next steps needed in learning so that the very best possible progress is made.

Applying this to Computing and ICT

The key aspects of this approach that lend themselves very well to use in Computing and ICT are:

  • Specific descriptions of what the pupil is expected to know and be able to do by the end of a particular unit of work.
  • The use of professionals for moderation purposes.
  • The fact that the ladders double as a checklist to help pupils see what knowledge and skills they need to acquire next.
  • And the fact that the scheme has been devised by both primary and secondary colleagues. If you can achieve this sort of collaboration then you are really on course to have a successful assessment approach I think. You may find the article 11 Reasons to collaborate with other schools in implementing the new Computing Programme of Study useful in this context.

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."