Guest Blog: Teaching can be a blind alley without accurate assessment

By Gary Alexander, Deputy Head Teacher

Teaching and learning is the core function of any school. We all know that without accurate assessment, teaching can be a bit of a blind alley and that we have to assess what the children already know, and then assess what they have learnt to be effective as educators. This is why for years teachers have worked for hours and hours each term to assess the minutiae of a child’s understanding. A myriad of tick sheets, highlighted objectives or best-fit rubrics fill teachers dining room tables on a Sunday afternoon across the country! It was with this in mind that we invested in Star Assessments.

With Star Assessments, we can gain detailed assessments of all 350 children (years 2 to 6) in both reading and maths within a week, without a teacher having to do anything. This does not mean the teachers don’t assess anymore, they do it all the time, but it is purely ‘assessment for learning’ which doesn’t need to be recorded or tracked.

Once assessed, my teachers have information on every child in their class delivered directly to their laptops. They have current attainment data including an accurate ‘on track’ measure linked directly to KS2 SATs. They can identify children falling behind, children with SEN, or high achieving children in a flash. They can check for groups to see how Pupil Premium children are doing, or to measure the impact of an intervention they have been running. They even have relative progress data for each child.

The progress data shows how far each child has come compared to other children in the country who had a similar starting point. So, for example, it is easy to see if a teacher is really stretching the ‘more able’, as those children are compared to other ‘more able’ children in the country.

As a leader, it is fantastic to be able to answer so many accountability questions with certainty and accuracy, without having to burden our teachers with even more workload. I don’t know how our school would function without Star assessments.

Gary Alexander
Deputy Head Teacher

Gary Alexander has been working in education in the UK and abroad for 17 years.  He is currently Deputy Head Teacher at Battle & Langton CE Primary School in East Sussex; a large and successful school where he leads on teaching learning and assessment.  He is interested in all things educational, but has a particular interest in making use of technology to reduce teacher workload and enable them to spend more time thinking about and improving their practice.

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