Developing an assessment framework for a multi-academy trust
Creative Education Trust (CET) is a UK network of 17 schools in postindustrial and coastal urban centres, educating 13,500 children and young people. They recently completed a bespoke project with the team at Cambridge Assessment Network which involved 60 teachers, 13 subjects and 5 weekly webinars, to reimagine the Trust's assessment framework.
“Drawing on the expertise of the Cambridge Assessment team, their wealth of experience, and being exposed to research within the field, enables leaders to be challenged and supported to deepen their own understanding of assessment… The training has enabled the creation of an academic community across the Creative Education Trust, who share a common understanding of the benefits and limitations of assessments.”
Alexander Laney, then Vice Principal and KS3 Assessment Lead, CET
Established in 2010, CET has a strong track record of transforming schools previously deemed to be inadequate into good ones, giving students the best start in life. A key focus area is bringing together creative, integrated and pro-active thinking, equipping students for 21st-century work and life.
By working with Cambridge Assessment Network, CET was able to take this philosophy and apply it to their school-based assessments.
Creative Education Trust has taken a bold step, moving to setting common assessments across year groups. This is built on a shared approach to curriculum planning. To assure quality and consistency of every assessment, the Trust approached us to help with the professional development of multiple subject leaders from its schools. Too often, teachers have to learn about assessment ad hoc. CET approached us to systematically explore their assessment issues and develop a standardised approach.
Assessment Network solution
Fitting around the busy schedules of several schools, the Assessment Network developed a rapid and intensive assessment programme within a professional learning framework. This comprised five weekly webinars (of 90 minutes each) for 60 teachers across 13 subject areas, building on principles learned and putting these into practice.
Subject leaders gained the tools and understanding to write effective end-of-term assessments for their Key Stage 3 students, grounded in the Trust’s curriculum. This included tailoring exams and tests, so that teachers could best assess specific classes and students. Post-webinar support included set tasks and an online learning environment to encourage feedback on assessment drafts and further enhance quality.
“Feedback from our senior and middle leaders has been overwhelmingly positive … Our middle leaders can now clearly distinguish between validity and reliability, can understand the benefits and pitfalls of multiple choice questions and are now fully versed in the importance of item ordering.”
Luke Bowers, Director of Performance, CET
The subject leaders of each school put their assessments in place immediately. In the long-term CET can confidently generate full sets of assessments for all subjects to measure student learning and progress at important educational stages. Valid data from these new assessments will help to reliably address where students shone, and what students have yet to master and how to address this. CET will use the data to identify areas of content that need readdressing, as well as to adapt its upcoming plans and refine its aligned curriculum. Insights will provide answers to questions such as: “Did we cover the content in enough detail and provide ample opportunity to enable the students to achieve fluency in the content?”
“The CPD was transformational. We now have a group of senior and middle leaders who not only understand the underlying principles of assessment, they now know how to apply these to the construction of assessments for our students.”
Nimish Lad, Vice Principal Senior School, Curriculum and Research Lead, CET
The Trust will also benefit from ‘an army of assessment design experts’ who can confidently pass on their knowledge to colleagues. Moving forward, our five-week CPD assessment programme will be part of the induction for every new teacher who joins CET. At a Trust level, summative assessments will help identify schools or departments that require support, alongside areas of real strength. This information will ensure CET better support its schools and learners.
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