Assessment levels are no more. Hooray.
Alex Ford recently brilliantly described this as a ‘storming of the Bastille‘ moment, where the prison was open and we were free to leave. Unfortunately as Alex states “the initial euphoria of the new Republic has been tarnished as some old enemies rear their heads“. In other words rather than celebrating the end of a system none of us like, most of us are still using the old system due to fears of Ofsted, SLT, progress, parents etc.
In fact I’ve found it difficult to find a teacher, or more specifically, a history teacher who is scrapping the National Curriculum levels. What a shame. What a missed opportunity.
As Michael Fordham stated in Teaching History recently now is our chance to grasp “What do we think good history is?” and “What do we think it means to get better at history?”
With a colleague we’ve decided we are going step out into the brave new world. Lots of the current discussion on this have focused on the importance of task specific mark schemes. I don’t deny that these are crucial and we’ve been using them for a while at my school, but I also think we need an overarching progression model to hang these upon. A master framework. Not something that stifles teaching and learning but something that breaks down exactly what we think makes a good historian so that it guides us as teachers and gives our students a clear notion of how to get better.
As much as I would like to move away from levels completely I need to be realistic that my school are not going to do this and I’ll need to report levels at some point. But I hate a numbered system, as Gove is right, it’s meaningless, thus I’m going to rename the levels so Levels 3 to 8 will become Novice Historian to Exceptional Historian. Yes, this is a surface change, but it’s an important one, we’re making it subject specific.
Additionally the overly long descriptions of each level are ridiculous, vague and difficult to understand. So we’ve decided to break it down into 5 key concepts – Causality, Significance, Change and continuity, Interpretations and Using Evidence.
Next step is to fill in each of the five concepts. This is the tricky bit.
Once we’ve got this then we can go ahead and make some task specific mark schemes.
As this all VERY much draft please leave comments or tweet me @kenradical