Getting the most out of classroom assessment with Maths — No Problem!
This is an updated version of a blog post originally published on October 26th, 2020.
From a micro level with individual pupils to a macro level when informing whole-school, trust or local authority policy — Assessment data is important.
Linking all kinds of assessment data is crucial for staff to continue to develop and for children to continue learning.
Are you using the Maths — No Problem! Programme in your primary school? Here’s how you can get the most out of classroom assessment.
Daily assessment in the classroom
The first kind of assessment in the Maths — No Problem! Programme is the daily assessment that teachers gather when working with their learners. This formative assessment data can tell us things about how well our pupils are learning and how well they are understanding a concept on any given day.
It isn’t the whole assessment picture, but it’s where we should start when building links between assessment and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
Assessment in maths lessons
Maths — No Problem! Programme encourages teachers to undertake daily assessment using prompts, questions and suggestions to collect information and then act on that information accordingly. Any recorded information including workbooks and journals also provides assessment data to add to the overall picture.
Assessment in Teacher Guides
The key to conducting good daily assessment is preparation. Knowing in advance what you need to do to support your learners will help you get the most out of every lesson, as well as help to make your formative assessment more responsive to your pupil’s needs and more in-line with the results of tests and yearly checkpoints.
Maths — No Problem! Teacher Guides include a section on Formative Assessment for every lesson. Here’s a breakdown of the areas we will be able to assess in a Year 2:
Maths — No Problem! Textbook 2A, Page 48
This provides a good start for conducting daily assessment, but it becomes even more powerful when we ask ourselves the following questions in advance of the lesson:
- Which questions can I ask to assess whether a learner can carry out these examples?
- How can I use the CPA approach for each of these examples?
- How will I best aid the transition from one known idea to an unknown idea in the context of this lesson?
- Does the task/s I am using offer opportunities to assess these areas?
If we are unable to answer any of the questions — don’t panic! This is an opportunity for professional development to help us grow our assessment skills. Your colleagues and the Maths — No Problem! Global Community Facebook group are excellent sources of support and advice. The resulting conversations may give rise to an area of CPD that is needed in order to meet your needs, as well as those of your learners.
These conversations may also tie in with the school’s more formal assessment approach of yearly checkpoints and testing.
Yearly checkpoints and testing
Summarising a child’s learning is a difficult task. A high level of skill is needed to write questions that can help form an idea of a child’s understanding. Summative assessment is sometimes viewed negatively on its own, but works well as part of a comprehensive, interlinked assessment programme.
Assessment in Insights
Maths — No Problem! Assessment Papers are not only designed to provide achievement data in different content domains, number, addition and subtraction, geometry, measures, statistics, multiplication and division, fractions, decimals, percentage and ratio.
When used alongside the Insights tool, results can be analysed at an individual, class and school level.
Using Insights can provide a breakdown of achievement by cognitive domains, knowing, applying and reasoning. This level of data allows teachers and school leaders to make decisions on day to day teaching, school-wide focuses and to inform a professional development programme.
Maths — No Problem! Insights
Links between daily and yearly assessment approaches and CPD
But even with a steady stream of formative and summative assessment, our data is only as good as how it’s used.
Accepting assessment happens everyday in our classrooms between the teacher and the learners, this data should give a clear message to the teacher about how well the children are understanding new ideas. Yearly assessment checkpoints allow the teacher to see how well these new ideas can be applied over time.
If yearly checkpoint assessments indicate a discrepancy between what is seen in the classroom and what is seen in the results data we should be asking a key question quickly.
Do I know why this discrepancy has occurred?
Whatever the outcome to this question there should be an action taking place. Whether it is formative assessment CPD, more practice for the learners or further diagnosis of the summative assessment to name some areas we could look at, it is important that the outcome of summative assessment is not just an exercise in data collection.
How to ensure assessment is linked in your school
Schools should be very clear about their overall assessment programme. This should include a regular cycle of discussing the data that both formative and summative assessments provide, and combining an ongoing professional development cycle that is informed by this assessment data.
If questions can’t be answered about the role of assessment in teacher development, learner progress and the role it plays in whole school development, help is at hand. Talk to your colleagues about assessment techniques, discuss trends you may notice in your classroom and use data analysis to see where deep learning is taking place and where further questions may be asked.
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