Teacher Assessments… do you trust your judgement?
By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager
So that’s another school year over which means another year of teacher assessments are now making their way to the start of the next term, where our expert evaluations will play a crucial part in helping children make progress in their ongoing development. But how much do you trust your judgement when it comes to the accuracy of your assessments?
If you’re anything like me, I always felt confident that I’d made a solid assessment. Until queries came in from parents or I was asked by Ofsted to provide evidence to support my justifications… It didn’t seem to matter that I was an experienced and confident teacher, not to mention I’d spent a whole school year with these children and knew each and every one of them personally. My assessment was sometimes deemed ‘subjective’ and I was left questioning my own abilities.
It also didn’t help that as a primary school teacher, my strengths lay in understanding and supporting children’s early development. I hadn’t gone into teaching to become an analyst and I certainly hadn’t received any training on how to collate and process data for detailed reporting purposes.
Thanks to computer adaptive assessments like Star – you don’t have to be a number cruncher to be able to deliver the insights and objective assessments that are increasingly demanded in education. Instead, by simply planning regular Star tests with your class (ideally at least four times a year), you collate valuable information as a by-product of the test which is then processed for you. No need for data entry and no need for manual spreadsheet analysis. In its place, you can access detailed reports which allow you to analyse individual children’s progress as well as compare this with other cohorts within the school and children of the same age and ability throughout the UK.
Star reports not only allow you to analyse children’s progress to date, they offer powerful insight into growth. Known as the Student Growth Percentile, or SGP for short, at the click of a button Star gives you a visual representation of where a child is currently and more importantly – the rate at which they are progressing. In doing so, it allows you to easily identify those children who are not making acceptable progress but also those who fall at the other end of the scale and are making exceptional progress. From a teaching perspective, this helps to inform where interventions may be required and then allows you to monitor whether any intervention programmes are being effective.
While there are not often many surprises between what we see on a Star report and what teacher assessments have concluded, because Star is an independent and validated assessment tool – it provides robust evidence to support your own judgement in an easy to access and simple to use format. So by using Star for assessment in your school, you can have complete faith in your teaching instincts… but the proof is not only there if you need it as evidence – the insight is also there to help you.
To learn more about using Star for whole school assessment and supporting children’s primary development, download a copy of the Essential Guide to Star Assessments.
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.