Published on: 02 Jun 2017

Progress 8 is a retrospective measure and therefore the focus must be on finding reliable ways to challenge all pupils – regardless of their current ability – and to check learners’ progress throughout their scholastic journey

Plotting a path to positive progress

Last week a number of school leaders from across the country came together for our first event hosted in conjunction with our partners Doddle; offering delegates the chance to gain insight on measuring progress in a period of uncertainty, whilst preparing for the new Progress 8 measures. The group saw first-hand how a number of other educational experts have adapted to ongoing curriculum change – including the EBacc and the 5-year GCSE, setting challenging targets supported by aspirational flight paths as well as capturing Assessment for Learning (AFL) to improve interventions.

Given the sheer volume of educational change, what’s in or out: more ‘rigorous’ GCSEs – in, curriculum levels – out, new accountability measures for progress – in, grading structure A*-G – out. Aside from the distinct feeling like we, as a sector, are taking part in an elaborate game of the hokey cokey, the day kicked off with a balanced introduction of factors affecting measures of progress. Although it’s easy to think the goal is about achieving a positive Progress 8 score, Dominic Bristow (Head of Innovation, Doddle) reminded us that Progress 8 is a retrospective measure and therefore the focus must be on finding reliable ways to challenge all pupils – regardless of their current ability – and to check learners’ progress throughout their scholastic journey. 

Reassuringly, we saw reoccurring themes like setting aspirational targets, and the importance of consistency from each expert as they talked us through their methods for measuring progress. Anu Monga (Raising Standards Leader, St Paul's Girls) highlighted the need to change the expectation gap and set more aspirational targets before tackling the attainment gap.  Matthew Pinder (Deputy Head, Hinchingbrooke) championed the triangulation of data including Key Stage 2 results, reading comprehension with NGRT and natural ability with CAT4 to baseline pupils; setting personalised and challenging targets. This has helped provide immediate insight for teachers in planning potential progress, which in combination with Doddle Progress as a common assessment framework, has changed how teachers communicate with parents; putting more emphasis on the progress of their children.

For me one of the highlights was hearing how Clare England (Deputy Head, Writhlington School) and her team have embedded ‘RAG culture’ with their learners. They soon realised that introducing a red, amber, green system with AFL, left pupils who scored ‘red’ feeling demotivated because of perceived ‘failing’. Following some RAG rated teacher challenges in assembly they managed to change pupil perception from associating ‘red’ with failure to simply not knowing it yet. Alternatively when it comes to raising aspirations, if they are ‘green’ it doesn’t mean all done, pens down – it means ‘great, what next?’ The school even promote ‘go green’ week to revisit secure ‘green’ skill areas to ensure learners haven’t forgotten key topics as they journey the linear pathway to their GCSEs.

By Jade Sewell, Business Development Manager, GL Assessment

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