Living without levels has been a major concern for all authorities, schools and teachers across the country. Authorities have had to devise their own systems of assessment to measure children’s progress in English and Maths which has created a mix-match of systems being used. Publishing companies have jumped on the band wagon to create their own ‘Progress Tests’, adding to the mix.
The lack of uniformity of any one system is going to have a massive impact on my Spellwise Synthetic Phonic Programme because I will not be working from a level assessment playing field. The Data I have collected over the years has relied upon consistent testing, using the Salford Sentence Reading Test and National Curriculum levels and sub-levels (increments) in reading, writing and spelling.
Now, schools are looking at a variety of systems that include 3 level; 6 level; 9 level stages of progression through each strand of the new reading, writing, speaking and listening curriculum. Or a child will be either ‘emerging’, ‘expected’, ‘exceeding’ or ‘below average’, ‘average’, ‘above average’. I have already had a parent show me her SEND child’s end of term report where every subject indicated he was ‘below average’. How soul destroying is that for the child and concerning for the parents? And how does it celebrate the small stages of progress that are real milestones for many SEND children when, at the end of the day, they are always ‘below average’ or ‘emerging’?
These new assessment procedures will also impact upon my Spellwise results. The children who need Spellwise are those still struggling with phonological processing, auditory, visual sequencing and memory. Their results, though impressive, will still be judged as ‘below average’.
This is not just a concern for Spellwise. It is for all other intervention Programmes out there that support children’s learning.
What is the answer? What assessment structure should we begin using that validates our intervention programmes and retains our credibility in the field of SEND Education?
I will be visiting a Birmingham School tomorrow to discuss this very same question. Birmingham have brought out a 16 Band Assessment Toolkit that gives expected Bands to be reached by Yr 6 e.g. Band 5 is the expected Band at the end of Reception; Band 8 at the end of Yr 1; Band 16 at the end of Yr 6.
It looks interesting and I am curious to see if it will deliver enough Data to be used as a measure of progress for SEND Spellwise children. I will definitely feed back with my thoughts.
I the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for an assessment programme to be used in conjunction with my Spellwise Programme AND for other intervention programmes out there, then I’m sure we would all be grateful of your ideas and support.