Thinking Out Loud – Assessing ICT
Sunday, November 27th, 2011 | Author:

How do you assess ICT in your school? That is one of the questions I have been asking myself since starting at my school just over a year ago. It’s been on my to-do list since then and I keep pushing it downwards, until now. We currently report to parents twice a year and this involves a statement in the Spring and then a level in the Summer.

The level in the summer is a whole level and not a sub-level. For the statements in the Spring, we write some generic statements for upper and lower levels e.g. upper level 3, lower level 3, and then assign these to the children. There is also a brief description of some ICT work that we had been doing that year. This reporting is just for Key Stage 2 children.

Last year I wrote the statements for the whole school and one of my targets is to make my role sustainable. This means making the assessment process sustainable too. So where to start?

I think that the assessment process should be:

  • Easy for staff to use
  • Not too much work!
  • Laid out in such a way that the children are included in the process and know what their next steps are
  • Flexible so we can adapt it to different ICT areas as we embed  it within the curriculum
I have always found assessing ICT to be very difficult. In my time visiting schools as an ICT Mark Assessor I always ask to see a school’s assessment procedure as I have been looking for something that will work. Nothing has grabbed me so far. I’ve seen skills-based lists where the teachers tick off the boxes as the children learn to change the font size or colour, but in reality does it matter?? Surely once you get to Year 3, you want to know which children CAN’T do these tasks don’t you?

In my previous school we introduced child-speak levels from 1-5 and each child had 1 A4 sheet which had their current and next level on it. We then ticked off the objectives as they achieved them. This went so well they soon got introduced for all other subjects meaning the children were trying to assess themselves using 10+ pages of objectives. Not ideal.

So, now what?

I want something that will recognise the excellent abilities that some of my children have, challenge others to improve their learning and focus the teaching even further to ensure children are able to succeed. By this last point, I don’t want teachers teaching to the assessment procedure just to tick the boxes, but I do want them to know the progression from beginner to advanced abilities.
I read Kevin McLaughlin‘s blog post about the badge idea. This is a system that gives recognition for skills and achievements. I was thinking of making these badges linked to the National Curriculum levels so that a bronze badge would equal level 2, silver is level 3, gold level 4 and platinum level 5. I don’t feel like I need to have anything for level 1.

To achieve the badge, the children would have to meet certain criteria. Now this could be achieved as part of their ICT lessons in school or at home. So for example at the moment in Year 5/6 the children have been looking at Audacity to import audio and make a radio broadcast. They could then assess their work and decide if they are ‘applying’ for the bronze award or the gold award. This would ensure children are able to assess their own work and if we make the different badges public, they can see how to get to the next one. So surely they’d want to try and apply the skills needed to get the gold/platinum awards?

I also think it is important to include work that they do outside of the classroom too. Now I know there is the possibility that their siblings or parents could help, but is it really worth it just for the sake of a certificate/badge? We have some children that are happily blogging and commenting at home, so it would be great to award them a badge for this commitment and ability that they are showing.

The badges would be linked to the new ICT planning that we have in school so it all makes it easier to manage. One thing we need to do is record the levels as we go, so we could create a document with names down the side and topics along the top. The current award could be listed in the boxes and we just change it as the children progress through the awards.

So does this sound like a possible way forward? Is it the sort of scheme that could work? I think the children would really enjoy collecting their various awards as they work their way up the school.

The next step is to draft out an example award scheme. I think I’ll start with blogging. What would a bronze blogger look like compared to a platinum one? I am sharing this idea with the other teachers at my school on Tuesday this week, so I would love to hear any comments (positive/negative) so that I can anticipate what they might ask me!

Like I said, I am very keen for your comments. Do you think this would work? This would be public so would it be something you’d like to try in your school? Or do you already have an assessment procedure that works? If you do, what is it? How do you assess ICT?

**I do have to point out, I would much rather use intrinsic rewards within my teaching rather than certificates etc, but for this, I think extrinsic rewards would help. It doesn’t have to be a physical certificate, it could just be an online award, but still, extrinsic seems to be the best approach,