Friday, September 01, 2006


Types of Performance Assessments at Different Ages

Due to UK Governments desire to measure the effectiveness of teaching and learning in schools and so that international comparisons can be maintained, there is a lot of pressure on schools to test their pupils at certain key stages in their educational progress, these are know as SATs (Standard Attainment Tests) and are undertaken at 4/5 (Baseline measure), 7, 11, 14 and then via GCSEs at age 16. These tests tie in with the end of each Key Stage. Following on from the Dearing Report (1994), level description/ descriptors (LDs) were introduced to provide teachers with guidance on the level of knowledge, understanding and skills that students would need to show for attainment of each level. Teachers then use these LDs to produce a ' "best-fit" of their pupils' work to these level descriptions; in other words they will select the level description that most closely fits the work of each pupil' (Baumann et at., 1997, p. 141). Pupils will therefore be assessed as 'working towards', 'working at' or 'working above' the level that matches the Key Stage they are in.

In attempting to encourage learning teachers will often use many types of assessment to develop this process throughout a students' school experience. They will be either formative (giving informal impression of progress during the course) or summative (to summate student performance at the end of a period of study). In addition they can either be norm referenced (scores compared against the norm, either within the school or nationally) or criterion referenced (measured against a set of specific criteria that the student can either achieve or not achieve). So for example a GCSE mock exam can be both formative or summative depending when the exam is taken. It can also be marked against standards set within the school or more likely using an exam mark scheme which can compare student scores against national exam standards.

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