10 simple steps to a better assessment system in your school

Published 16/06/2021

Ryan Hibbard, Headteacher at St Bede’s Catholic Academy, North Lincolnshire, looks at what schools should consider when introducing a new assessment system. 

Make sure you’re getting the most out of staff assessment with these ten top ideas.

  1. Your staff need time

Make sure staff have time to get to grips with your assessment programme and how they should use the resulting data to understand their students better. If you don’t allocate time to it, everything else will take priority.

  1. Remove the burden of marking

Where possible, take away the marking from teachers. With digital assessments this happens automatically, so see if it’s an option for your school. Staff can instead spend their time on more worthwhile tasks, such as analysing the data to inform their teaching.

  1. Ask for their input

Involve staff in the assessment process from the start – ideally during an Inset day, or failing that, in a dedicated staff meeting or twilight session. Ask them what they want to get out of the process and any potential difficulties they can foresee.

  1. Make it relevant

Provide your staff with the data that’s relevant to them and their class or department. Don’t burden them with more than they need.

  1. Understand the lingo

Standardised assessment data has its own language – standard age scores, stanines, percentile ranks, and so forth. Staff won’t always be familiar with the terminology, so make time to explain it.

  1. Know what you’re assessing

Knowledge of what you’re assessing, what you’re not assessing and the limitations your assessments may have is key. Data needs to be used carefully.

  1. Assessment is only the beginning

Ensure staff understand that assessment is just the start of the process and that it’s there to help. The next step is to use assessment data formatively to plan lessons and make adjustments, depending on need.

  1. Be open

Explain to your pupils what you’re assessing and what the data can be used for. Our students were pleased to hear that the GL Assessment tests we use were ones they didn’t need to revise for.

  1. Assess all new students

Assess every student who joins your school, whichever year they’re in and whatever time of year they start. We were previously reliant on the data provided to us, but with life after levels, it’s harder to use a variety of datasets. Try to use assessments that speak the same language for you and your school.

  1. Share information with parents

We shared the assessments’ parental reports, and our parents liked that we’d demonstrated knowing a lot about their children so soon. They appreciated seeing which subjects their child was likely to excel at and which they might struggle with, which got our home-school relationships off to a good start.

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