How many of us have been party to that perennial conversation about how accurate the prior attainment profiles of students are when they transition to a new school? I suspect nearly all of us! We all know that we will ultimately be judged on said outcomes. But what exactly do our students know, and more importantly, what have they yet to grasp?
We believe it’s important to have a baseline from which to measure the progress our students make from when they first walk into an academy weeks after the transition of leaving primary school and embark upon their secondary education. KS3 students across our 12 E-ACT secondary academies are assessed when they arrive using standardised assessments in English, maths and science for the last two years. Assessing on entry to Y7 lets us see what skills and knowledge they possess from day one.
Our teachers use the results of those tests to then teach to the gaps. The question level analysis gives us a clear path for each student to follow to get them from A to B. We also use the data to compare with end of KS2 outcomes, scores from the Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) and other tests to provide a rounded view of where each student is on their learning journey. Since the tests have a large national sample, we know that our students are being benchmarked against a cross section of students from a range of different backgrounds and starting points.
That last point is key, since many of our academies are located in challenging areas with a much higher than average proportion of Pupil Premium students and students with English as their second language. Our students take the assessments at the start of the autumn term to act as a baseline, and again in the summer term so that we can check on the progress made during each year. These results are instantly delivered, and the test outcomes analysed at trust and academy level.
Many of our cohorts achieve average Standardised Age Scores (SAS) in excess of 100, which is admirable given their typically below average starting points. However, the real value lies in being able to identify their gaps in learning and address them, so that every E-ACT student is given the chance to reach their full potential.
Paul Robinson is a regional data system leader at the multi-academy trust E-ACT – visit e-act.org.uk