A conversation on Thursday got me thinking, about what assessments we’d move to with our new year 9 from September. It’s not my decision, but as with all these things I have a viewpoint (you wouldn’t expect anything less would you!). Let me explain what we do now with regards testing:
We do an initial test (using a KS3 SATs paper) in September and between that point and Easter any further assessments are done using SATs past papers. We report levels to parents and internally, the language in year 9 is all about levels. It’s what the students are used to from KS1 and KS2, and something that they can relate to. Their final assessment in year 9 has always been a past GCSE paper, but prior to this (basically once we get FFT data in) we introduce the concept of GCSE grades.
With the fact that our new intake are the first cohort for the new GCSE’s and we’ll be starting to teach the new content from September, I had assumed that we’d start using GCSE papers instead of SATs papers – I suppose I hadn’t really thought it through to the point of us getting a GRADE from them. They will not be getting a grade (it’ll be a level) at the end of their course and so this will bear no relation to what they are going to achieve – effectively if we changed, we could be talking to them about grades in year 9, and then having to switch back to talking about levels (this will be dependent upon getting more information about grade equivalencies etc), It’s even worse than that though, when these students get their exam results in August 2017 there will be a mixture of levels and grades as Maths and English are starting the GCSE’s a year earlier than all the other subjects. It does make me wonder what an employer will make of it?
Just a thought … why not change the first exam date for Maths and English to June 2018 and have all the changes happen at the same time? This would give schools time to recruit, exam boards time to get the specs sorted, and give schools time to develop plans for ensuring that the “assumed” prior knowledge at the transition between key stages (2 to 3 and 3 to 4) is in place (if you don’t get this point consider the fact that the new KS4 assumes key areas are covered in KS3 – they would have been covered, if the students had followed the new KS3 programme of study but of course they wont have done!). A deferred start date would, more importantly go someway to ensuring that we don’t have a cohort of student who get “lost” between two types of qualification.
Again, I’m going to say that I’m not against these changes, it just all feels a little rushed and desperate. But then again, being cynical … if the first years results with the new GCSE are rubbish …. the only way is up.
I would love to hear what plans you have for assessment from September onwards for your new year 9’s.