Cadmus Services is a SEND advisory and behaviour service in Walsall which provides a holistic range of support to educational settings to help them meet the needs of vulnerable learners. Beccie Hawes, Head of Service, shares her top tips for teachers on how to get the most out of pupil assessment.
It can be really difficult to find the time to administer a standardised assessment amongst the many millions of jobs that a teacher/teaching assistant has to do in a single day. We’ve all been there. We know that a particular pupil needs our time to complete a reading assessment as soon as possible so that we can match our teaching to their needs and capitalise on their strengths. This is often on top of our busy group/class assessment timetable.
We know that we will need to carve out thirty minutes to sit 1:1 with the pupil to get it done and we know that finding the physical, quiet space to do so can be difficult in a busy school. So what happens? From a good place and loaded with the best of intentions, we pull the pupil from PE, sit together in a busy corridor and blast through the assessment. We do get information about how the pupil reads and useful data to inform our pupil progress judgements. But did we really get the best information which will make the biggest difference to that pupil’s learning?
Here are some top tips to help us get the most from each and every pupil assessment:
- Think carefully about your choice of assessment material. What do you want to find out? Does it need to be a 1:1 assessment or could the same information be gathered through a group or class assessment? Although 1:1 assessment can give us a rich picture of the pupil’s strengths and what needs supporting, it can be more labour and time intensive to administer.
- Read the manual carefully beforehand. What’s the script and how much support is allowed? It is essential that each adult who administers a test sticks rigidly to the script so that assessment conditions remain consistent regardless of who leads. This helps to ensure that assessment findings are reliable and valid.
- Timetable assessments in advance and give them a high profile. This includes dedicating appropriate spaces in school for assessments to be conducted in.
- Ensure that assessment materials are up to date, valid and reliable. Many assessments are regularly re-standardised to reflect the changing skills of our pupils. The more up-to-date the standardisation, the more reliable and valid your data will be.
- Make sure that the assessment links directly to what the pupil has had the opportunity to learn and provides the information that we need to inform our teaching. If you have taught a block of phonics to develop reading accuracy a single word reading test involving non-phonetically regular words won’t allow us to judge the success of our phonics teaching.
- Think about technology – many assessments and screeners are now done online which can cut workload.
- Consider accessibility – what barriers to accessing the assessment might a pupil experience? Are we giving our pupils the best opportunity to truly demonstrate the level of their knowledge, skills and understanding?
- Do all staff understand and can they interpret the statistical terms such as standardised score and percentile? Provide support for this as needed so that everyone can make informed and accurate judgements about pupil progress.
You are probably aware of all of these points but it is always worth revisiting our assessment practices so that our pupils have the chance to shine!
Cadmus Inclusive is one of our Centres of Assessment Excellence