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Indicate your knowledge of the range of assessment processes available to teachers in your phase and subject. Evaluate the contribution that each assessment method makes to continuity and progression of pupil learning in your Secondary PE

Free essay example:

Mark Anderson

The Coventry Blue Coat CE School

GTP Assignment 2 Secondary

“Indicate your knowledge of the range of assessment processes available to teachers in your phase and subject. Evaluate the contribution that each assessment method makes to continuity and progression of pupil learning in your Secondary PE”

Date: 18 / 01 / 2007

Assessment is one of the most discussed issues in education, with numerous parties involved in its delivery and effectiveness, from pupils and teachers to parents and schools (Teaching 2006). Assessment within education has been criticised as having a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but the government has moved its assessment focus to a more personalised learning approach with its work on Assessment for Learning (AfL) (Prestage 2006). AfL has been defined as:

The process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use bylearners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there. (Assessment Reform Group 2002)

This move was as a result of the key document, ‘Inside the Black Box’, by Paul Black and Dylan William (1998, cited Assessment Reform Group 1999). The review concluded that the use of assessment for learning within education can effectively raise attainment (Black and William 1998, cited in Assessment Reform Group 1999). The Assessment Reform Group (ARG) (2002) argue that the research gained from ‘Inside the Black box’ is central to the teaching and learning process.

This assignment will firstly address my experience of assessment from my teaching practice. Having addressed my own experience, I will discuss the literature on assessment and evaluate how assessment contributes to planning, pupil learning and motivation.

I will firstly discuss my involvement with assessment in my teaching at Blue Coat School. The teaching that I have undertaken has been at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 in Physical Education (PE). I have taught years 7, 8, 9 and 10 core PE and have had a role within delivering GCSE and A-Level PE. This has been at different capacities from observing lessons, to team teaching and solely delivering lessons across all key stages. Through this experience, I have established that assessment is a multidimensional concept that cannot be merely categorised as a single area of education. Before beginning my teaching practice my perception of assessment was just identifying the national curriculum levels of pupils at different stages of their school career. I now have an appreciation that, although national curriculum levels are an integral contribution to assessment, they are only a single aspect of the assessment process. I have identified two sub categories of assessment that I have experienced through my teaching across key stages as being, informal and formal assessment. My experience in these two areas of assessment will now be discussed.

Informal Assessment

My teaching experience has shown me that assessment is an ongoing process, that, as a teacher you need to be aware of and attend to for a multitude of reasons. Therefore, informal assessment by way of continuously assessing both individual and groups of pupils has driven much of my teaching practice. For example, in all of the practical lessons that I have taught or been involved in teaching, I have used informal assessment to drive the delivery of my lessons.

With mixed ability groups, differentiation is fundamental in providing an effective learning experience for each pupil. Therefore, assessing the ability and progress of pupils is essential for distinguishing between pupils’ abilities that have been categorised as those pupils who are able and gifted, those pupils who have average attainment, and those pupils with learning difficulties (Teaching in England 2006). For example, a lesson that I delivered to a year 7 class in Tag Rugby focused on a 2 v 1 attacker versus defender scenario, where I began with instructing defenders to be static. For those more able, I increased the role of the defender to be able to run sideways and those able and gifted, I allowed the defender to run freely. For me to be able to ascertain which groups of pupils suited which of the above progressions in the lesson, I was required to assess pupil ability within the groups when the task was first set. This was achieved by observing the ability of each group and assessing their level of competence. Without the use of this informal assessment, the differentiation planned for this lesson would not have been possible. Assessment also allowed me to continually use relevant feedback to assist the pupils in their learning.

Another example of how I have used informal assessment is in selecting teams in games during lessons. This is particularly important when formally assessing pupils as it allows a fair game with pupils having the opportunity to perform to their potential. The informal assessment takes place by assessing pupil’s ability in lessons leading up to formal assessment and I then select the teams according to pupil ability.

Formal Assessment

Formal assessment has been an integral part of my development and has been a particular area of recent development in my teaching practice. I have undertaken formal assessment for all year 7, 8 and 9 classes that I teach. This is undertaken by assessing each class at the end of each activity block studied. In the lesson that they are assessed, they are put into a game situation for whatever activity is being taught to enable them to achieve their best possible mark. A game situation creates an environment where pupils have the opportunity to demonstrate a wide range of skills in the activity. Blue Coat PE department have used the National Curriculum (NC) (1999) attainment targets and identified 7 levels of attainment to use in formal assessment of pupils in years 7, 8 and 9.  These are shown in figure 1.

YEAR 7

NC Level

Description

1

Poor

2

Experiencing difficulty

3

Average

4

Competent

5

Working Beyond

YEAR 8
                 

NC Level

Description

3

Experiencing difficulty

4

Moderately skilful

5

Competent

6

Working beyond

YEAR 9

NC Level

Description

5

Moderately skilful

6

Competent

7

Working beyond

Figure 1. National curriculum levels and their descriptions for years 7, 8 and 9

The levels shown in figure 1 were used in all the formal assessments that I have completed (examples shown in Appendix 1). My assessment experience began by observing experienced teachers using these levels to assess pupils, which has increased to me now assessing groups individually. The descriptions shown in figure 1 give sufficient guidance as to what level pupils should be at and I have adapted these to include +’s and –‘s allowing more scope in differentiating ability (examples shown in Appendix 1). My experience of assessment has shown me that for each level there is a big difference from just being at that level, to nearly being at the next level, which is why I have found using +’s and –‘s so useful.

I have also undertaken GCSE assessment of year 10 pupils in Hockey, Badminton and Football. GCSE pupils are graded from 1-10 dependant on their practical ability in an activity. One particular example of an assessment tool used to obtain these grades was in a Badminton assessment lesson. A game called ‘King of the Court’ was set up and involved playing half-court badminton games on 4 badminton courts, therefore accommodating 16 pupils. After 90 seconds the teacher would blow a whistle and the winner of each game would move one place up the court and the loser would move one place down the court (figure 2). After ten or fifteen minutes of playing, the pupils would naturally order themselves across the courts in ability level, which helped in assessing their individual levels.

Loser moves down to next court

Winner moves up to next court

Figure 2. King of the court

Having discussed my own experience of assessment in PE at secondary level, I will now analyse the literature on assessment and relate this to my practice. Prestage (2006) cites that assessment of learning should be both formative and summative. These are terms that are at the forefront of much research into assessment in education (Smith and Gorard 2005).

 Formative assessment has been defined as:

…..evaluation of student learning that aids understanding and development of knowledge, skills and abilities without passing any final judgement (via recorded grade) on the level of learning (Harvey 2004).

This definition is supported by the Quality Assurance Agency  for Higher Education (QAA 2000) whom emphasise that formative assessment provides learners with feedback to inform development but does not contribute to overall assessment.

In contrast summative assessment has been defined as:

…….the process of evaluating (and grading) the learning of students at a point in time (Harvey 2004).

Wojtczak (2002) extends this definition in highlighting that summative assessment is testing that often occurs at the end of a course or term.

The above definitions highlight a parallel with the two categories that I identified through my own experience of assessment as being informal and formal assessment, with formative assessment mirroring my informal experience and summative assessment mirroring my formal experience. These two assessment concepts will now be discussed and evaluated in terms of their contribution to continuity and progression of pupil learning.  

Formative Assessment

AfL, as already mentioned, has placed more of an emphasis on assessment being more personalised. The Assessment Reform Group (ARG 1999) stated that improving learning through assessment is dependant on five key factors. These are: providing effective feedback to pupils, actively involving pupils in their own learning, adjusting teaching as a result of assessment, recognising the influence that assessment has on motivation and self-esteem of pupils, and acknowledging the need for pupils to be able to assess themselves (ARG 1999). Although the above factors of assessment cannot be categorised as formative assessment per se, they all do fit into the formative assessment bracket. These five factors will now be addressed and evaluated in terms of their contribution to pupil learning.

All of the above factors are present within my own teaching practice and I recognise them as informal assessment, which I have outlined in this assignment. For example, providing feedback from informal assessment (a group of players have performed a skill well and I praise them and tell that what they have done well) in my lessons shows the pupils that they are achieving and in turn, has a positive effect on their motivation and self-esteem. This is reinforced by ARG (2002) with their 10 principles to guide classroom practice. They promote assessment that encourages learning, and highlight that this, in turn, will have positive effects on motivation, emphasising progress and achievement rather than failure. ARG (2002) also offer practical guidance that providing choice and constructive feedback also increase the motivation of a learner through protecting their autonomy.

One factor highlighted by the ARG (1999) was adjusting teaching as a result of assessment. This has a profound effect on planning when looking at sequences of lessons. My own teaching practice has seen this in planning the next lesson based on what was learned in the previous lesson, which often deviates from what I had originally planned for that lesson. I think this has a positive effect on pupil learning and the continuity of their learning as it allows the group of pupils to work at their level. Sometimes this would require adjusting the next lesson to recap on the skills learned in the previous lesson to ensure they have learned it. However, it may sometimes require you to move on to the next progression as the pupils have learned the skill quickly. Whatever the result of the assessment is of pupil learning, I agree with the ARG (1999) that adjusting future teaching as a result of that assessment, is good practice.

Finally, two of the other factors highlighted by the ARG (1999) are allowing pupils to take responsibility for their own learning and acknowledging the need for pupils to assess themselves. These areas are indirectly reinforced by the NC for PE (1999) where they emphasis the importance of evaluating and improving their own performance. The NC (1999) extends this in saying that pupils should be clear about what they have achieved and analyse their own performance. ARG (2002) justify striving for self assessment stating that independent learners have the ability to gain new skills, knowledge and understanding, whilst self-reflecting and identifying the next steps in their learning.

The above factors of formative assessment are only an insight to methods that can be used to utilise its effectiveness. However, those methods identified have clearly shown the positive aspects of formative assessment and how it can be used to facilitate learning, reinforcing the evidence highlighted by Black and William (1998, cited in Assessment Reform Group 1999). This supports the government’s move towards more of an individualised stance on assessment (Prestage 2006).

Summative Assessment

Prestage (2006) highlights that summative assessment by way of external tests and setting targets have been the dominant culture in education for 17 years. He suggests that although summative assessment may benefit the more able pupils, evidence suggests that rather than just raising standards overall, it has widened the gap between high and low attaining pupils (Prestage 2006). Marcus Buck (2006), an A-Level student at St Edward’s College in Liverpool, suggests however, that most teenagers appreciate assessment when accompanied by worthwhile feedback. Buck (2006) proposes that, for summative assessment to be most effective, it is imperative that assessment criteria is clearly understood.

There is a danger that summative assessment can turn pupils into statistics (Buck 2006) and actually be an assessment of teacher’s ability to deliver subjects (Bangs 2007). There is also a danger that summative assessment, especially when contributing to examinations such as GCSE’s and A-Levels, can become a detriment to continuity and progression of pupil learning. This is supported by the governmental change from coursework towards controlled assessment (Bangs 2007). The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) state that the problem with coursework is that there is evidence of cheating, excessive help from others and that it causes and excess load on pupils (Bangs 2007). Although my own teaching experience has not involved setting coursework, for my future teaching practise it is important to recognise this and the fact that pupils can have numerous other coursework commitments in their school lives. The governmental changes for PE are to retain coursework with new safeguards (The Teacher 2007), so my future teaching must acknowledge the restraints that summative assessment can have on pupil learning.

Although summative assessment does have its weaknesses, it is an essential tool in mapping progress of pupil’s attainment and development. I began this assignment highlighting that assessment is an issue that not only effects pupils and teachers but parents too. Cottee (2006) acknowledges the parental involvement within assessment identifying that 71% of parents value written reports, although they favour descriptive rather than just statistical information. Parents do also recognise the need for schools to undertake assessment and make that information public (Cottee 2006).

Smith and Gorrard (2005) undertook a study that analysed assessment practice in a comprehensive secondary school. The study examined both formative and summative assessment by having a group of pupils who solely received formative assessment and three other groups who received summative assessment through grades and marks. The research concluded that receiving just formative assessment was ineffective and was also unpopular with the pupils. The study suggested that those pupils who received formative assessment with no input from summative assessment were actually at a disadvantage compared to their peers. This study therefore further advocates the use of summative assessment and its role in providing continuity and progression of pupil learning.

Conclusion

My own experience of assessment is that it is a multidimensional concept. Through my teaching practice, I have identified two sub categories of assessment as being formal and informal. Within these categories, however, there is a multitude of methods and techniques that can be used for the outcome of assessment. The literature on assessment identifies that assessment should be summative and formative. These terms directly relate to the informal and formal terms that I have personally developed through my own practice.

Having discussed both formative and summative assessment, it is apparent that both forms are effective in improving the learning experience of pupils. The evidence presented in this assignment suggests that combining the two forms of assessment provide a learning environment where pupils, teachers and parents reap the benefits. Where pupils, parents, schools and teachers are aware of attainment levels throughout pupil’s schooling career and are given continual feedback to reinforce and explain the levels they are at. Where pupils are encouraged to be aware of their own levels, assess themselves and independently develop their own learning. If this can be achieved with the right balance, pupils will receive and be apart of a learning experience that motivates, and cultivates the continuity and progression of their learning.

Bibliography

Assessment Reform Group (1999) Assessment for Learning Beyond the Black Box [online]. University of Cambridge School of Education: Assessment Reform Group. Available from: http://www.arg.educ.cam.ac.uk.

Assessment Reform Group (2002) Assessment for Learning Research Based Principles to Guide Classroom Practice [online]. London: Assessment Reform Group. Available from: http://www.arg.educ.cam.ac.uk.

Bangs J (2007) ‘From coursework to controlled assessment’ The Teacher January/February p16.

Black P and Wiliam D (1998) Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment  London: Kings College, School of Education. Cited inAssessment Reform Group (1999) Assessment for Learning Beyond the Black Box [online]. University of Cambridge School of Education: Assessment Reform Group. Available from: http://www.arg.educ.cam.ac.uk.

Buck M. (2006) ‘….and what do pupils want?’ Teaching Spring 2006 p10.

Cottee P (2006) ‘What do parents think?’ Teaching Spring 2006 p8.

Harvey L. (2004) Analytic Quality Glossary [online]. Quality Research International. Available from: http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/glossary/ [Accessed 11 February 2008].

National Curriculum (1999) Physical Education: the national curriculum for England [online]. London: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Available from http:/www.nc.uk.net [Accessed 06 September 2007].

Prestage M. (2006) ‘Assessing the way ahead’ Teaching Spring 2006 p6.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (2000) ‘Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education, Section 6: Assessment of students’ [online]. Available from: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/academicinfrastructure/codeOfPractice/section6/default.asp [Accessed 11 February 2008].

Smith E. and Gorard S. (2005) ‘They don’t give us our marks’: the role of formative feedback in student progress Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice12 21-38.

Teaching in England (2006) Planning for differentiation [online]. London: Teachernet. Available from http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachinginengland/detail.cfm?id=527

The Teacher (2007) ‘The government’s changes’ The Teacher January/February p16.

Wojtczak A. (2002) Glossary of Medical Education Terms [online]. Available from: http://www.iime.org/glossary.htm [Accessed 11 February 2007].


Appendix 2: ARG 10 Principles to Guide Classroom Practice

Principle 1: Assessment for learning should be part of effective planning of teaching and learning

Principle 2: Assessment for learning should focus on how students learn

Principle 3: Assessment for learning should be recognised as central to classroom practice

Principle 4: Assessment for learning should be regarded as a key professional skill for teachers

Principle 5: Assessment for learning should be sensitive and constructive because any assessment has an emotional impact

Principle 6: Assessment should take account of the importance of learner motivation

Principle 7: Assessment for learning should promote commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of the criteria by which they are assessed

Principle 8: Assessment for learning should ensure that learners receive constructive guidance about how to improve

Principle 9: Assessment for learning should develop the learner’s capacity for self-assessment so that they can become reflective and self-managing

Principle 10: Assessment for learning should recognise the full range of achievements of all learners

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