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Life beyond levels

Assessment without levels

This is a hot topic isn’t it? For the last years or so I’ve been having these conversations with colleagues in Primary and Secondary settings.

Eh, when is a level not a ‘level’?

The early conversations centre around two questions;

  1. What is this all about?
  2. How would it work in comparison to levels we currently use?

Perfectly reasonable questions, they’re the ones I immediately asked!

  • What is this all about?

Shortest answer is that this is;

Looking at a way to recognise progress and achievement that is standardised amid the mire of grades and levels used across courses and learning paths.

  • How would it work in comparison to the levels we currently use?

This is harder to answer quickly as it depends on what you currently do. However I’ll try to simply it like this;

If you’re a secondary school currently assessing learners using NC levels in all their subject you strip these out (the numbers and letters that is – you may leave the criteria in place) and replace with ‘markers of progress’ as simple as;

  • Foundation
  • Developing
  • Secure
  • Mastery

These recognise the progress a learner is making towards acquiring new knowledge or a new skill.

Big picture

That’s it in a nutshell, but like all good changes in education there’s so much more to it, changes such as this can’t be implemented without a real thought given the the organisations culture towards;

  • Assessment tracking
  • Assessment for learning methods/practices
  • Training/development of staff
  • Observation culture
  • Evidence expectations
  • Standardisation

Wider reading

There are some excellent resources for further reading on this topic, try some of these;

Class teaching blog

UK Ed Assessing without levels case studies

NAHT Secondary info on assessing without levels

The KEY support for assessing without levels

CAPITA SIMS how to implement 

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