What’s Next for B Squared?
The contents of this page are extracted from our Response to "Rochford Review: Final Report" that was first published in November 2016. The document can be downloaded in its entirety by clicking here.
The content of the Report has not come as a shock to me. It reflects the changes in teaching and ideas that have been implemented over the last few years. We feel that the Government will accept the majority of recommendations with minimal alteration.
Our approach to assessment will not fundamentally change. We will still use small steps and use these to build the bigger picture. What will change is the structure of our frameworks, the breadth of our content, an increased focus on the holistic achievements of pupils and how we present the data.
Over the last few years we have been working on a range of projects that have increased the breadth of content from B Squared. We have produced a tool for profiling Autism that covers Communication, Social Interaction, Flexibility of Thought and Emotional Regulation. We have worked on a Developmental Continuum for pupils with profound and complex needs, covering Expressive and Receptive Communication, Social and Emotional Affection, Comprehension and Imagination, and Sensory and/or Physical operation. This currently covers the ability of pupils working between levels P1(i) to P3(ii) but we have already been asked to develop this further.
We have also been developing Evisense, our evidence software. Evisense is designed to not only make the process of capturing and storing evidence easier, but to make the evidence more powerful. Evidence can be linked to assessments when it is added and then teachers demonstrate this evidence by filtering in a variety of different ways – by student, by group, by subject or by ability level.
We are working on identifying the best approach to meet the needs of schools now and in the future. It is clear from the Report that all schools will be required/recommended to assess pupils with SEND across all four areas. It is currently unclear how in-depth this will be and how much focus will be placed on Communication and Interaction, Social and Emotional and Mental Health and Sensory and/or Physical for the pupils undertaking subject-specific learning.
We are planning on providing assessment across all four areas for pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. We will use the work from our Autism Progress profiling tool and Developmental Continuum to increase the breadth and coverage fully. We will use the seven indicators/aspects/aspects of engagement/areas as levels within Connecting Steps across the four areas. This will provide an equivalent ability scale as P1(i) to P4. We will put more emphasis on working across multiple levels as pupils are likely to be working across the curriculum at different aspects of engagement. The Report stated that pupils may still require different levels of support to work at the different aspects, so we will continue to use our levels of engagement.
Combining the four areas of need, the seven aspects and our levels of engagement will provide schools with a rich source of data when producing reports. The traditional reports showing progress on current level and using this to set targets will not work. We will need to find useful and meaningful ways to show the data. It has to be meaningful to parents, senior management, governors and outside agencies.
I feel that evidence will play a large part in non-subject-specific learning. It may be as simple as linking evidence to the four areas of need so schools can show as a whole how they are supporting their pupils’ development across the four areas. Alternatively, it may link evidence to specific assessments within Connecting Steps. Schools are required to use meaningful ways to demonstrate progress and with parents and carers this can easily be done by regularly sharing evidence of achievement.
The Report recommends that schools should help development for all pupils with SEND across Cognition and Learning; Communication and Interaction; Social, Emotional and Mental Health; and Sensory and/or Physical development.
Cognition and Learning
B Squared have been providing subject-specific learning assessment frameworks since the P levels were introduced. We are currently deciding the best way to continue providing subject-specific learning assessment frameworks. I personally feel that there will be a big shift away from P levels and schools using P levels will be viewed negatively in the same way as levels were viewed negatively when the new National Curriculum was introduced. The primary curriculum stated schools could choose how to assess pupils, this was limited by local authorities who had a set expectation on how they wanted schools to submit data. So far many local authorities have expected the same structure as the primary programme of study.
For this reason, I feel it would make sense to use the pre-key stage standards as levels for our formative assessment. We would also increase the range to include the end of Key Stage 2 standards for more-able pupils working in Key Stage 3 and 4. This would give us eight levels that in old money would cover from around P5 to level 6.
The Report states that the pre-key stage standards like the end of key stage standards are secure fit and not best fit. We will create two assessment frameworks:
- A summative scale that will use secure fit judgements, this will be reviewed at the end of term or annually. This scale will use the statements direct from the pre-key stage and key stage standards. This will only cover Reading, Writing and Maths.
- A formative scale that will use best fit judgements, this will be used on-going throughout the year. This will cover all National Curriculum subjects and will lead pupils into the Primary Curriculum.
The statutory pre-key stage standards have a narrow breadth. They are a small number of statements used as key indicators of ability. Schools should work towards these but should work on a fuller broader curriculum. There will be no link between our formative and summative scales, schools will need to review the statements from the summative scale at the end of term or year.
A pupil may achieve a very high percentage of standard 3 in our formative scale, but may not have achieved the key statements from the pre-key stage standard 3. Alternatively a pupil may have achieved a lower percentage of standard 3 in our formative scale and have achieved all the key statements from the pre-key stage standard 3.
One of our challenges will be providing a moderated system across subjects with only definitions for Reading, Writing and Maths as the key. While the breadth of the curriculum for SEND pupils has increased to include the four areas of need, the importance for each subject within cognition and learning has reduced. I feel that less emphasis will be placed on these subjects in the future and so we will be reducing our detail in the non-core subjects as a result.
Communication and Interaction, Social Emotional and Mental Health and Sensory and/or Physical
Our initial focus will be on Cognition and Learning but once we have completed our development of the subject-specific learning we will be extending our assessments for these three areas to work across the pre-key stage standards and key stage standards.
Levels of Engagement
We have been using levels of engagement since 1999. Our levels of engagement allow teachers to record the level of interaction with each skill. Our levels of engagement are currently:
- Encounter (N)
- Awareness (A)
- Attention & Response (R)
- Interaction (I)
- Gaining Skill and Understanding (U)
- Mastered (M)
- Confirmed (C)
Over the last few years there has been increased focus on the depth of learning and increased breadth. We are considering updating the levels of engagement, replacing Confirmed with two new levels:
- Increased Breadth (B)
- Increased Depth (D)
This will allow teachers to show where pupils have a secure understanding of a skill and can use that skill in a variety of contexts. These new levels of engagement will not give an increased percentage complete, but we will need to identify ways of showing this information in reports so that teachers are encouraged to use these new levels of engagement and show where pupils gave a greater level of mastery.
For the last 15 years schools have been able to use Not Applicable (N/A) as a way of dis-applying skills for individual pupils. We have always recommended using N/A sparingly and to always talk to senior management first. The effect of N/A when dis-applying assessments is to ignore the assessment when calculating the percentage complete, this increases the percentage complete as there are less skills to be achieved. As the P levels and National Curriculum levels have been statutory we have always advised against using N/A due to:
- All children are entitled to receive the full National Curriculum
- Using N/A raises attainment levels, resulting in increased expectations
- If the skills is part of the level, the child cannot complete the level
The last statement is a powerful one. P4 and P5 English Writing has a large part relating to physical processes – holding a pencil and vertical or horizontal movement. There are a number of pupils will not be able to achieve these skills, they therefore cannot achieve P4 or P5. When looking at P6 the physical aspect has been removed, pupils which cannot complete the physical aspects of P4 and P5 are able to complete P6. Assessment should be about recording what a student can or can’t do, it should not be about trying to fit pupils into government boxes.
If the Government accepts the Report’s recommendations, the content and breadth of the curriculum are left to the school to decide. Each school can decide what they want to cover and what teachers can dis-apply. We may need to change how we present data so that data is not misleading for pupils who have had a large number of skills dis-applied.
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