This case study looks at how a secondary mathematics team organised assessments during their Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP) project, including their assessment approaches and recent progress in addressing periodic APP.

Day-to-day assessment approaches

The day-to-day assessment that the team felt would be invaluable in informing the APP process was well advanced at the school. Teachers were employing a variety of strategies to assess progress through learning activities. One teacher had a notebook with her all the time, which she used to jot down particular pupils' progress or achievements as she walked around the classroom. Another teacher used a sheet of probing questions and responses were scribbled onto the sheet itself to remind her of answers given and progress towards meeting targets.

It has helped me to re-engage with my own teaching. It has changed the way we think and work.

Mathematics teacher

One teacher had started to use a highlighter pen to indicate where a level had been achieved on the work itself. This allowed him to see progress made over a period of time on a particular activity. He felt that in the past he had concentrated on assessing a finished product, whereas this method showed him how pupils had progressed and gave him a much clearer view of their thinking, their strengths and what he could suggest to them to improve. He thought that on balance he was doing a lot more assessing in the classroom itself and much less assessing of written exercises, which in the past had been done outside the classroom.

Other practical strategies included:

  • a 'scale of understanding' to allow pupils to indicate where they felt they were on a particular topic
  • asking the pupils to indicate the questions that they wanted feedback on. This helped to focus the teachers' efforts when marking on issues that really mattered
  • scanning a piece of student work to produce an 'identifying misconceptions' activity for use in the next lesson
  • placing an A3 sheet in the middle of each table and encouraging pupils to jot down things that they knew, or even things they were struggling with
  • using the lesson scheduled for the computer room as an opportunity to spend time talking in more depth with individual pupils

One teacher found the strategies to be so successful and effective, he was thinking of 'ditching the mark book altogether and moving to a wholly APP approach to assessing work'.

I now know so much more about the pupils than I used to. I could get alarmed about what they don't know. But now I know where they are at least I can now do something about it.

Mathematics teacher

Recent progress

Teachers were starting to make some headway in addressing periodic APP; the A3 Assessment Guidelines sheet was being used. Teachers were highlighting in green for secure understanding, cross-hatched green for partly secure and blank but with a date indicated for work completed but not yet secure. The team had also made some tentative exploratory moves to address moderation of the assessment process. They started looking at just a handful of students in their groups, pairing up teachers, visiting each other’s groups to talk to identified pupils, going through folders and then comparing assessment judgements afterwards.

It's all about trusting our own judgement.

Mathematics teacher