Parents and learners who have been on the NAISAK journey since it started know that, as a school and a learning community, we aim to reflect on our practice, research what best practice looks like, listen to feedback, explore local examples of good practice, and combine these factors to design what suits our context and student population best. Our approach to pupil progress has been part of our continuous review process and has greatly evolved over the years.
Pupil progress is the ultimate goal of teaching and learning. Assessment is at the heart of an effective curriculum and is a fundamental part of good teaching and learning as it helps evaluate pupil progress. It enables learners to recognise achievement and make progress, and teachers to shape and adapt their teaching to individual needs and aspirations.
Where are we now?
The objective is to design a method that puts the learner at the heart of the assessment process and that offers consistency across the three stages of the school. NAISAK is contemplating a three-way approach to evaluating progress:
1-External and aptitude tests: This year, we have trialled tests that are used worldwide by international schools and English-speaking state schools. These tests are externally-set and non-curriculum-based, and offer feedback on students’ abilities and learning styles. These tests are available for all ages and allow for external validation of pupil progress. Trialling different tests is helping the academic team decide which is best suited to the specificity of our context and offers the most impactful feedback to inform future planning.
2-Teachers’ assessment: As most of you know, the Primary and Secondary School teachers have worked hard and collaboratively to develop FLOs (Fundamental Learning Objectives) at Primary and YLOs (Yearly Learning Objectives) at Secondary for the core subjects. These are age-related curriculum statements used by teachers throughout the academic year to record progress to date and discuss next steps. The judgments made against the FLOs/YLOs are based on the evidence of achievement in the classroom.
3-Cambridge Checkpoints: Taken at the end of Key Stage 2 (end of Year 6) and at the end of Key Stage 3 (end of Year 9), these tests are externally-set and assessed, and curriculum-based. They offer validation of students’ attainment in the core subjects (English First or Second Language, Mathematics, Science) and allow for progress tracking from one key stage to the next.
In terms of Pupil Progress at NAISAK, three items need consideration:
1-Once the trialling of aptitude tests is completed, a decision will be made on which test to implement in the long term.
2-NAISAK is data rich and will improve/increase its data bank. Our data-handling system needs to be polished so the data collected is easy to access across the key stages, year groups and subjects, and convenient to manipulate so a variety of analyses can be extracted from it and impact constructively on planning and delivery.
3-Soft skills and mindsets have been identified by research as key factors in one’s success. Further reflection is needed, as a school and within our family of schools, to adopt a coherent approach able to bear fruit, in terms of evaluation and support to implement.
A few interesting facts
More than class sizes and same-ability grouping, research has shown that the quality of feedback and high-level questioning impact the most on students’ progress and attainment. Both school and family structures have an essential role in guiding and waking curiosity, metacognition and future potential.
Research shows that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the individual differences in mindset (Horsburgh, Schermer, Veselka & Vernon, 2009). Mindset has been shown to be a narrow plastic (i.e. capable of change) personality trait. Studies in the UK and the Netherlands indicate that mindset accounts for 25% of the variation in attainment.