DfE seeks to reassure teachers with “clarification” of controversial new primary assessments

The government has sought to reassure teachers who are up in arms about new primary assessment arrangements with a much-anticipated clarification document published tonight. Here are the main points:

  • Writing redrafted by a pupil is acceptable for assessment as independent work. Redrafted work may be in response to self or peer evaluation, or after discussion with a teacher.
  • But work which has been copied or where the teacher has directed to change specific words or punctuation would not be judged independent.
  • Writing where pupils have independently used classroom resources such as dictionaries or websites is also acceptable.
  • The evidence required to support teacher assessment judgements must show that a pupil demonstrates attainment of all of the ‘pupil can’ statements within the standard they have been awarded. But there is no need to produce specific evidence to show they have met lower standards.
  • There is no requirement to provide tick sheets for a moderation visit.

Teachers and headteachers have been widely concerned that the standard set for the new writing assessment was not the level 4b which they had been expecting, but instead closer to the higher level 5.

The clarification document states: “In the new system the threshold of the expected standard is broadly equivalent to the previous level 4b, but pupils working at the expected standard will have a range of attainment.”

On the controversial subject of exclamation marks, it states: “The national curriculum states that an exclamation is one of the four forms of sentences. An exclamation must be introduced by a phrase with ‘what’ or ‘how’…The definition of an exclamation should not be confused with the uses of the exclamation mark for punctuation. The exclamation mark can be used in a variety of sentence forms and not just in exclamations.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT heads’ union, said:

“Whilst there is still much that is not right about assessment, we welcome this clarification and the way in which the government has engaged positively with us to produce it. NAHT will continue to work with the government to address the wider failings of assessment.”

The union is asking school leaders to sign up to support its pledge for a “stable, coherent, valid and proportionate approach to assessment that raises standards for all and involves the appropriate use of testing.”

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