Assessment and Feedback
At Dereham Neatherd High School, we know that assessment and feedback are at the heart of the ‘responsive teaching’ cycle and have a significant impact on raising achievement for all pupils. Our approach is firmly based on the most widely accepted evidence from national and international research. When considering assessment and feedback, our teachers ask themselves the following questions:
- What have I set out to teach in this lesson or unit of work, and how do I know if pupils have understood and remembered it?
- If pupils have not understood or remembered something, how will I help them to catch up so that they do not fall behind?
- What is the most effective and efficient way of providing feedback to pupils so that they can make progress in their learning?
This forms the vast majority of assessment in schools. It is sometimes known as ‘assessment for formative purposes’, or ‘assessment for learning’. It happens constantly, in every lesson, every day of the week. Pupils will not necessarily realise they are being assessed, but teachers will use a range of strategies to check on pupils’ understanding and recall. These strategies may include:
- Low-stakes knowledge recall quizzes at the start of a lesson
- Whole-class or one-to-one questioning
- ‘Hinge questions’ – These are questions which are asked at a key point during the lesson. Depending on how pupils answer, the teacher may move on to the next stage of the lesson, re-teach part of the lesson to the class, or work with individuals or small groups to help them understand the content.
- ‘Exit Cards’ – These are short tests or quizzes presented at the end of a lesson. The teacher can use responses to make a quick decision on whether to move on to the next part of the unit, to re-teach some of the content or to intervene to help individuals or small groups catch up.
- Checking work in pupils’ exercise books – This may be done in class as pupils are working independently or in between lessons.
These techniques are a very important part of the responsive teaching cycle as they allow teachers to identify misconceptions or gaps in knowledge quickly and precisely, and to provide rapid feedback and intervention to help pupils make progress.
Feedback, like informal assessment, happens constantly. In recent years, ‘feedback’ was mistaken for ‘marking’, but evidence shows that written feedback in books has limited impact on learning and progress. Furthermore, it adds significantly to teacher workload for limited gains. For example, many pupils will face the same misconceptions in any given piece of work. Teachers could therefore spend several hours marking a set of books, only to find that they are writing the same targets repeatedly. Teachers are a school’s most expensive ‘resource’: such practices have little impact on learning, are not a good use of teachers’ limited time, and consequently do not provide value for money!
At Neatherd, we therefore provide feedback in the following ways:
- Verbal feedback (one-to-one, small group and whole-class)
- Re-teaching of content
- Self- or peer-assessment, where appropriate to the task
- Class summary feedback / ‘Examiner Reports’
- Numbered targets in books
- RAG-rated feedback (Red / Amber / Green, each linking to a suitable follow-up or extension activity)
There may be limited occasions where a teacher will judge that individual written feedback in books is the most effective way of providing feedback, but this should not be seen as the norm.
This is sometimes known as assessment for summative purposes, or assessment of learning. It provides a snapshot of what a pupil knows and can remember at a given point. The most obvious example would be the final GCSE exams in Year 11. Whilst therefore important as an ‘end result’ of learning, it provides limited impact on the process of learning itself. Formal assessments also tend to include a wide range of knowledge and skills, making it difficult for pupils and teachers to unpick afterwards what they have found difficult and what they need to do to improve.
At Neatherd, we use formal assessment in the following ways:
- In Key Stage 3 (years 7, 8 and 9), pupils complete two short formal assessments per year in each subject. The mid-year tests take place in January and February. End-of-year tests take place in May and June. Test results are reported as a percentage mark, along with the average percentage mark of the other pupils who took the same test. This gives pupils, parents and teachers an indication of how pupils performed on that one test, at that one time.
- To ensure that pupils are making expected progress, we also use a series of online standardised Progress Tests in English, maths and science. These are produced by GL Assessment and are used by schools across the country, giving us a reliable and valid indicator of how our pupils are performing in relation to their peers in other schools. The results of these tests allow us to check that our curriculum is sufficiently challenging and to identify pupils who require additional support.
- In Key Stage 4 (years 10 and 11), the frequency of formal testing increases, as pupils prepare for their final examinations. Pupils will sit end-of-unit tests and mock exams. In addition, pupils may also complete past exam questions as part of their homework or during lessons. These provide opportunities for pupils to improve their exam technique, as well as giving their teachers an overview of performance over time and across the range of content covered by the exam board’s specifications.
To find out more
For further information on assessment and feedback, please see our Assessment Policy: neatherd.org/Policies/
To find out how we report to parents and carers on how your child is doing at school, please visit neatherd.org/Information/Pupil-Reports-Information/