You are here:

Assessment approach: age-related expectations

Ref: 31933
Last updated on 19 January 2017
School types: All · School phases: All
In-depth article
How does an assessment system based on age-related expectations work? We pick out the key principles of this approach. We also relay case studies from three primary schools and a secondary school that use age-related expectations as their internal assessment system.

Article tools

Contents

  1. 1 End-of-year expectations approach: how does it work?
  2. 2 Approach developed by the NAHT
  3. 3 Case studies from primary schools
  4. 4 Case study from a secondary school

Article features

  • 5 external links

End-of-year expectations approach: how does it work?

Explaining concept or term icon

Terminology in this article

Our research showed that schools and organisations use similar terms for this type of assessment approach. Terms include:

  • Age-related expectations
  • End-of-year expectations
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Some schools choose to assess against age-related expectations as their assessment system. The details of such a system vary between schools, but the key principles can include:

  • Looking at the curriculum and agreeing the knowledge and skills pupils should achieve at the end of each year group
  • Assigning grades or descriptors to each level of competency. These form the 'expectations'
  • At the end of the year, teachers assess whether pupils have achieved the criteria for them to have met the expectations, and have therefore made sufficient progress from the start of the year

Approach developed by the NAHT

The approach developed and advocated by the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) is based on having a set of KPIs at the end of each year.

Another article from The Key looks at the NAHT’s system in more detail, including how it works and tracking and reporting progress. The article also highlights how two schools have adapted the framework:

Case studies from primary schools

Yerbury Primary School

We spoke to the deputy headteacher at Yerbury Primary School in Islington about its assessment system. The system was developed in partnership with 18 other schools in Islington over 2014/15, was implemented in schools over 2015/16, and will be evaluated and refined during 2016/17.

In it, the National Curriculum is broken down into statements and objectives, which show what pupils should be achieving over each academic year. Teachers also pull statements from the interim assessment frameworks. The statements are transferred onto grids.

Teachers highlight statements on the grids whenever they see evidence the pupil is achieving them

Teachers highlight statements on the grids whenever they see evidence the pupil is achieving them. Evidence comes from:

  • Observing and talking to pupils in lessons
  • Pupils’ work in exercise books
  • A low-pressure assessment week every term

Different colour pens are used to highlight statements in each term so teachers can easily see if pupils have been doing it regularly, or if it was achieved once in term one, but not again.

The percentage of statements highlighted puts each pupil into a category of either ‘beginning’, ‘working within’ or ‘secure’.

You can read the full case study on this system, including practical information on how judgements are moderated and progress is tracked, in the following Showcase article from The Key: 

Stamford St Gilbert’s Church of England (CofE) Primary School

Stamford St Gilbert’s CofE Primary School in Lincolnshire also uses age-related expectations to assess pupils internally. There are descriptors for each year group, which are all available on its website:

A presentation from an assessment information evening for parents says on slide 4 that progress towards the expectations will be reported using the categories: beginning, beginning +, developing, developing +, secure, secure +, and exceeding.

Pupils classed as ‘secure’ will be said to have met the end-of-year expectations, but there is still room for these pupils to develop their knowledge further.

Pupils classed as ‘secure’ will be said to have met the end-of-year expectations

The presentation also explains:

  • Progress will be discussed at parent’s evenings and will focus on how well the child is progressing towards the end-of-year expectations
  • Teachers will use a software programme called ‘Classroom Monitor’ to track pupils’ progress towards these expectations

St John's Meads Church of England (CofE) Primary School

St John’s Meads Church of England (CofE) Primary School in East Sussex has adopted a system that takes the end-of-year expectations for each year group and divides them into five judgements:

  • Emerging – pupils have achieved 10% of the statements for the subject in their year group
  • Developing – where pupils can achieve 30% of the statements for the subject in their year group
  • Expected – where pupils can achieve 60%
  • Exceeding – where pupils can achieve 75%
  • High – where pupils can achieve 90%

In October, once teachers have had a chance to assess how pupils are working, they will forecast where they think each pupil will be by the end of the year. These forecasts will form the pupils' targets. Teachers will use their professional judgement to come up with this forecast, which will be based on what each pupil can already do, and what teachers think they have the potential to achieve. 

Throughout the year, parents will be informed whether their child is emerging, developing, expected, exceeding or high

Throughout the year, parents will be informed whether their child is emerging, developing, expected, exceeding or high for his/her year group. 

A separate document shows how the assessment system measures progress in points based on the five judgements.

Case study from a secondary school

The approach

We visited West London Free School in Hammersmith and Fulham, and spoke to headteacher Hywel Jones and assistant headteacher Wade Nottingham about the school’s approach to assessment.

Wade explained that heads of departments and subject teachers have agreed upon the knowledge and skills appropriate for each group in each subject, and assigned corresponding grades ranging from A*-G.

Article answers icon

Assessment approaches: more from The Key

We also have articles on the following types of assessment system:

You may also wish to look at our assessment bundle, where we draw together our most useful assessment articles. 

Grade ‘A’ for a year 7 pupil reflects that pupil’s achievements, given his/her age. To achieve the same grade, a year 10 pupil would need to demonstrate a relatively greater depth of knowledge and understanding in that particular subject area.

This assessment system is distinct from levels because the assessment system is tied directly to the school's own curriculum and is relative to each year group.

The school does not assess whether pupils are ‘working towards’, ‘meeting’ or ‘exceeding’ grades in each subject. Hywel said that a pupil is “either working at a particular level, or not”.

Hywel also said the school may adopt an equivalent grading system based on numbers 9 to 1 as GCSE reforms become embedded.

How it works

Pupils sit a half-termly unit test in every subject. Subject staff set the questions, and the tests are set out in a way that mirrors formal exam papers. Each pupil is given a grade, capturing their attainment in these tests.

Pupils also sit end-of-year tests in every subject. These tests assess the ‘whole domain’ of learning in that subject rather than what pupils have been taught that year. To achieve top grades in their assessment, year 9 pupils, for instance, should also refer to relevant subject content taught during years 7 and 8.

Week-by-week, class teachers conduct ongoing formative assessments of pupils’ learning. Hywel said there is an emphasis on the importance of questioning at the school as a means for teachers to ‘unpick’ what their pupils have learnt.

Teachers often use quizzes with their classes to capture pupils’ grasp of a particular topic, and pupils regularly complete self-quizzes in lessons or for homework.

The school does not ask its teachers to conduct and report formal weekly or fortnightly assessments.

Evidencing judgements

Hywel and Wade explained that while staff refer to a set of grade descriptors for each year group, the judgements “are not set in stone”. Teachers are encouraged to use their professional judgement when allocating a grade, taking into account, for example:

  • The degree to which a pupil has understood and reflected upon curriculum content
  • The extent to which a pupil is able to recall relevant content taught during previous years and/or in other subjects

This article was written in response to questions from several of our members.

More from The Key

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence.