School Budgets: counting the cost of assessment
By Romy Short, Assessment Director
As we enter the new financial year, reports of budget deficits and funding cuts are widespread across the UK – and the outlook is bleak to say the least. Even more so when we factor in the additional demands on school leaders, school business managers and teachers to raise standards, increase accountability and support children in achieving their learning potential.
We’re now a few years into a ‘life without levels’ but the dust is still yet to fully settle. And when it comes to the new curriculum, it can be challenging to objectively determine whether children are meeting ‘expected standards’.
The availability of independently validated tests which align with the new curriculum provide a reliable and robust solution for school assessment in this new era of ‘freedom’, but these inevitably come at a cost. So, when evaluating where best to invest the very limited funds that are available, how can we ensure that maximum value can be realised?
Based on feedback from schools we work with, here are two priority points to consider:
What’s the total cost of assessment?
There are a range of validated assessments on the market for reading, maths and literacy – most of which are subscription based. For accurate budgeting purposes, confirm whether there are any additional costs for marking tests which are not included in the standard subscription fee. Having to pay for each test which is sent away for marking can make it difficult to forecast what costs might be incurred in future, particularly if re-marking is required for any reason.
Schools who use Star assessments frequently cite that the flat rate subscription cost makes it easier to budget and prevents any unforeseen expenditure.
How is training handled?
As with any new system, ensuring that staff are effectively trained on how to use it correctly is crucial for realising true value from an investment. When evaluating potential assessment packages, establish what support is available in the longer term – not just as part of an initial product induction.
Here at Renaissance, we appreciate that schools will develop their use of Star Assessments over time which is why we provide free support which follows their journey. One-to-one training sessions are offered initially with free workshops, webinars and online customer service easily accessible and targeted at specific areas of development.
To learn more about how Star Assessments can help make your assessment investment go further and maximise the impact of this year’s school budget, you can visit: www.renlearn.co.uk/star-assessments/
Romy is Director of Assessment at Renaissance®. She is an experienced educational assessor at both national and international level.