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4) Assessment

In June 2021 we reviewed our approach to assessment. Following this review we introduced a more cohesive and transparent assessment system designed to support students to measure their progress across a consistent scale of assessment throughout Year 7 to Year 11. 

As part of this redevelopment, we made the decision to assess at Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9) using GCSE exam-style grades. In reaching this decision, we consulted with a range of students and staff. From this consultation it was resoundingly clear that this would be their preferred approach to assessment.  This system allows similar assessment criteria to be used from Year 7 until Year 11 and ensures a greater degree of continuity between Key Stages 3 and 4. Under our new system students can see how the progress they make in Key Stage 3 is related to GCSE (Key Stage 4).  

In each of the sections below we have provided guidance to support you to interpret and understand the information that we will report to you within your child's report. These reports are distributed twice per year. The first of these is at the mid-point of the academic year and the second is an end-point report at the end of the summer term. 

Achievement 

In Year 7 we report students’ achievement on a 5-point scale: grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4 and grade 4+. A grade 4+ is the highest grade on this 5-point scale. We have included a 4+ grade to ensure that we do not artificially cap a student’s achievement. In Year 8 we will introduce grades 5 and 5+ and in Year 9 we will introduce grades 6 and 6+. We report all these grades alongside sub-levels (+, = and -). For example, a grade 3 would be split into 3-, 3= and 3+.  A grade of 3+ would indicate the student has mastered the assessment criteria at this grade. A 3= would indicate a secure understanding and a 3- would reflect an understanding of some elements of the requirements of this grade. A grade 3- is directly above a 2+.  

For each of these grade points teaching staff refer to grade descriptors during lessons and in assessed tasks. These descriptors can be accessed through our school website to support you to understand how teaching staff have reached their grading decisions. The descriptors will allow you to identify your child’s strengths in each subject area as well as any areas for development required to secure further achievement.  

Expected progress 

Your child’s report will also outline a flight path (expected progress) for each subject. The information that we use to generate students’ flight paths uses a student’s prior achievement at Key Stage 2 (primary school) to estimate the grade that she/he is most likely to achieve in each subject at GCSE. Where this information is not available (e.g., students’ absence in KS2 assessments or revised assessment arrangements in primary schools in response to the pandemic) we will use baseline assessment data collected internally (e.g., through MidYis) when students join us in year 7.    

Baseline data is used to calculate the expected progress that we will share with you. Expected progress reflects an average of how students with similar prior achievement profiles to your child, in similar schools to Norton College, have achieved in each GCSE subject in the past.  They are not, therefore, a prediction of what your child will achieve in the future. In most cases, these estimates reflect realistic and ambitious target grades for students to aim for at GCSE.  There will always be individual students for whom these grades may seem unrealistic. 

Progress 

The information that we will provide to you will indicate whether your child has progressed between the previous and most recent assessments undertaken in each subject area. Our system has been deliberately designed to avoid a direct comparison against a student’s flight path. Although the expected progress grade provides a useful benchmark, the most important concern is whether the student has progressed since the last assessment. We will use the terms Above, No change and Below to indicate whether progress has been made between these assessment points (mid-points and end-points). We will not report on progress in the first reporting cycle as earlier assessments will not have been conducted using a comparable reporting system.   

Behaviour, effort and home learning 

We will report on your child’s behaviour, effort and commitment to home learning in each subject that they study. We will report this to you using four categories. These are: 

  • Excellent 
  • Good 
  • Variable 
  • Poor 

You may find that your child has less excellent grades than you might have expected. Please do not be concerned by this; it is simply that we are reserving this to recognise genuinely excellent performance demonstrated consistently. A grade of good under any of the headings indicates that there are no significant problems or concerns. The descriptors for each of these grades can be found below.