A Logical Impossibility

Earlier this week I went to a meeting at my kid’s school, where the new head teacher was introduced. At the end of the meeting, we were asked “Does anyone have any questions?” and my question was “What about Assessment without Levels?”. I felt a bit mean asking, since the answer to that question is “Nobody Knows!”. (This was, in the end, pretty much what he said – good for him.) But I am getting increasingly annoyed at what is happening to assessment at the moment, both as a parent, and on behalf of the primary teachers who are faced with it. (If you need more detail, Michael Tidd’s blog is a great place to start.) Partly, I am cross because of all the reasons that Michael so eloquently explains – the limbo into which schools have been placed, the upswing in ‘expected’ standards, the difficulty this means for schools in communicating confidently with parents. But the main reason for my irritation is that schools are being asked to do two things which directly contradict each other:

  • Find a way to assess children without giving them a number/level/grade.
  • Get children to sit National Tests which result in a number/level/grade.

I am in complete sympathy with schools, who have had the rug suddenly pulled out from under their feet in an unnecessary way, and who face being judged by Ofsted on the results their ‘assessed without levels’ children receive. The mass academisation of primary schools that do not meet ‘the expected standard’ seems the most likely result. But I am even more angry as a parent. How dare the DfE tell me that my child will be ‘assessed without levels’ during her primary school years, and then give her a scaled score at the end? This is a logical impossibility; a sleight of hand of the very worst kind. And, quite frankly, the cheek of it takes my breath away.

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