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Assessment plays a fundamental role in learning and is an essential part of the education process. At its heart, it is an interaction between the teacher and student; a way of acknowledging the students’ work, identifying what has been learnt and what needs to improve further. Most importantly, it guides and supports the teacher and students with the next steps in learning. Effective, high-quality assessment can have a very positive impact on students’ learning and progress.
At Birkdale, assessments are designed to focus on two areas, knowledge and fluency. We define these two areas as follows:
Knowledge: the ability of students to accurately recall information from their long-term memory
Fluency of knowledge: the ability of students to apply and elaborate on pieces of knowledge
Your son will be assessed continually throughout the year; however, the frequency and method of assessment will vary between subjects, depending on the nature of the subject and the number of lessons allocated in the timetable.
There are two main forms of assessment: formative and summative.
Formative assessment takes place on a day-to-day basis during teaching and learning. It involves teachers using a variety of methods to diagnose specific areas to improve, and supports students in doing so. The majority of our formative assessment will be verbal, in lessons, through coaching and conversation and via deeper questioning, with teachers providing students with instant, live feedback in response to any misconceptions and errors revealed. In addition, formative assessment will also be in the form of tasks, quizzes and regular, low-stakes testing.
Summative assessment provides a judgement about what a student has achieved at the end of a period of time, relative to the specific learning aims for that subject. In the majority of subjects, students at Birkdale are assessed more formally, during the internal assessment period, held twice during each school year. In Years 7 to 9, these assessments will include a separate “knowledge” test to help us identify gaps and misconceptions. Depending on the subject, the test may also include a “fluency of knowledge” section, to assess how effectively the students can apply their knowledge in answering complex questions; this may be in the form of an extended written response or problem solving task. The assessments during Years 10 and 11, will be designed to complement the requirements of the subject specification for the qualification being studied and will incorporate exam style questions. These assessments will summarise attainment at a particular point in time.
At Birkdale High School we believe that, apart from the external examinations, all assessments should have a formative purpose. Our assessments should act as a bridge between our teaching, and the learning we are trying to achieve; checking that students have learnt the information taught to them and whether they have fluency in that knowledge. It is possible, through analysis of performance in summative assessments, to identify gaps in skills and knowledge, and to use this to improve teaching and learning.