By Jo Gray on 20 Jul 2017
UPCOMING CHANGES TO THE INTERIM ASSESSMENT FRAMEWORK
The Interim Assessment Framework for writing is changing. Change has been in the pipeline for a while now, there have been rumours of it going back to the dreaded writing test - no more of 2008’s Pip Davenport please; there has been debate around it going to comparative judgements; and there were even a few discussions on social media about removing assessment of writing altogether!
However, on 18 July 2017, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) published a statement which suggests that we will see the return of ‘best-fit’ for teacher assessment of writing this September.
THE CURRENT ASSESSMENT FRAMEWORK
The current assessment framework requires schools to apply a secure fit, where children have to achieve all statements (apart from handwriting) to achieve the expected standard in writing.
This has caused concern for many teachers, consultants and education experts in that it is unfair on a lot of children, but it is especially unfair for children with dyslexia. Currently, children must be spelling most words correctly to be in with any chance of reaching the expected standard in writing at the end of key stage two, regardless of having a diagnosis of dyslexia or not.
The NAHT has been campaigning for this to change as soon as possible, and has issued a statement to its members which explains that it has been “encouraged by the level of engagement from government” on the issue and is “hopeful of an announcement to this effect when the government publishes its response to the consultation after the summer break”. Though a statement from the Department for Education (DfE) is not expected until September, the possibility of writing assessment returning to ‘best-fit’ seems strong.
JUSTINE GREENING’S COMMENTS
In addition to this, the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, has written a letter to the NAHT about the assessment of writing stating “that data should only be the starting point for a conversation about school performance” and that because improvements in writing have not yet been embedded, “in 2017, no intervention will be made on the basis of writing data alone”. Ms Greening also explains that, whilst 2017 has seen some improvements to the assessment of writing, she hopes to continue to work alongside the NAHT to improve the assessment of writing for future years.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE CHANGES
Unsurprisingly, feedback to the DfE earlier in the year indicated that the interim frameworks do not provide enough flexibility for accurate judgements to be made which reflect pupils’ writing abilities. The feedback also suggests that the creative aspects of writing are largely ignored within the current framework.
Therefore, I expect that it won’t simply be a shift to ‘best-fit’ using the same statements that are within the current framework for writing, but that we will see a change in the statements that children are assessed against. There is indication, however, that the ‘best-fit’ approach to assessing writing may not be the approach that stays – only time will tell!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jo Gray is a primary school literacy specialist who has experience of working in schools across Greater Manchester and the North West, including schools in Trafford, Warrington, Manchester City Centre, Oldham and Bradford.
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