Access All Areas

By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager

Access arrangements have hit the headlines recently, with the media focusing on ‘compare and contrast’ between independent and state schools. While the ratio for access arrangements is higher in independent schools, which has been attributed to ‘proper resourcing’ by the HMC, a group representing independent schools, I believe that Renaissance Star Assessments have a vital role to play in helping all schools to identify those children who need additional support.

To give a little bit of context, I should probably start by explaining that Star Assessments are available for reading, maths and early literacy. And it doesn’t matter which of the products you are using, the principles are still the same.

In terms of securing access arrangements, the first step is to identify those pupils falling into the bottom 15% of your cohort by using a standardised assessment – which is where Star comes into play.

In short, Star is a quick, easy and reliable tool to support progress monitoring and intervention, reporting results immediately to help inform planning and teaching. Essentially a suite of online, adaptive, diagnostic tests, Star is designed to support whole school assessment – but the way in which it is administered and the rich reports it produces – make it especially valuable for identifying additional needs without being hugely time intensive.

And here’s why:

  • Students take the Star tests online using a computer, laptop or tablet. So, no marking is required and there’s no need to transcribe data or results. A typical assessment takes just 20 minutes to administer. The results are available immediately and most importantly… are consistent.
  • Unlike paper-based tests, Star Assessments are computer-adaptive. In non-jargon terms this means the questions vary based on previous responses and adjust the level of difficulty accordingly (in line with the student’s understanding). The advantage of this over many other methods is that every student sits a truly personalised test that accurately measures their knowledge and ability. Within minutes the class can be differentiated and gaps in knowledge identified.
  • With a detailed screening report which can be produced at the click of a button, you have a highly visual way of identifying exactly where students are in their development but can also view this relative to other year groups, cohorts and specific characteristics – making it a very reliable way of identifying students who may need further assessment with regards to access arrangements.
Sample Screening report from Renaissance Star Reading

A sample Screening Report from Renaissance Star Reading

As with any area of teaching and assessment, technology is only ever designed to be an enabler and facilitator. I like to view Star as a helping hand when it comes to intervention and access arrangements, because it gives schools a valid and reliable benchmark from which further investigation can be undertaken if children are showing signs of developmental delays. There’s only so many hours in a day, which often makes it challenging to undertake assessments as regularly as we might like to – but with Star, you really can access all areas and ensure no child is being left behind.

If you are an existing Renaissance customer, or would like to know more about how Renaissance Star Assessments for reading, maths and early literacy can be used to secure access arrangements, please call our team on +44 (0)20 7184 4040.

Margaret Allen
Strategic Education Manager

Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.

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