life after levels

In 2013, the government announced the removal of assessment levels in lower school, which means that schools have been given the power to take control and create their own assessment criteria.

Teachers have been given the opportunity to use their expertise to inform the assessments of students, which is a positive step towards trusting teachers as professionals in a move to raise standards.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the changes were being made to provide ‘an accurate picture of a pupil’s attainment and progress,’ and create greater ‘trust between primary and secondary schools’ saying that they were ‘vague and imprecise.’

Each school will now have their own assessment criteria and their own way of reporting this to parents/carers. Depending on how they choose to record progress, every school will have different ideas about what criteria should be included for their students’ development.

As a result of this, questions have been raised about standardisation across the country. It will also make it difficult when a child moves schools, as their assessment data will not be transferable.

The useful measure of levels against GCSE has also been removed, as GCSEs are now making the transition to the 9-1 scale, replacing the well-known A-G grading.

Prior to the change, teachers were able to track students’ progress, with a student on a level 5 expected to achieve a C grade at GCSE based on the national expectation of three levels of progress. With the removal of both grading systems, tracking progress may be more difficult. However, moving away from the ‘old system’ entirely, could be another step towards raising standards by encouraging a new approach.

Parents, carers, teachers and employers will all need time to get used to the new assessment language, and with many schools publishing their assessment models online as guidance to one another, this could be the time for an improved assessment process to be championed for the better and provide a more ‘accurate picture.’

Do you think assessment without levels will raise standards? 

As suggested by Nick Gibb, do you agree the move will create greater ‘trust’ between school phases? 

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