Assessment at KS3: case studies

Durrington High School

Durrington High School is a large thriving co-educational secondary school located in the suburbs of Worthing in West Sussex. In 2014 75% of the Year 11 cohort (354 students) achieved 5+ A*-C. The Geography department is an integral element of the school’s success and achieved 85% A*-C in 2014. The Geography department consists of six specialist Geography teachers and currently teaches over 300 students at KS4.

Durrington High School was successfully contracted to be one of the Department for Education’s pilot schools to develop its own assessment strategy at a whole-school level.

The school adopted a ‘Growth and Threshold’ model of assessment which allows for an easier transition to KS4 with a greater emphasis placed on the skills and core knowledge. This has allowed the development an assessment regime at KS3 which develops and broadens students’ understanding of geography but maintaining a 5-year plan of how that pupil will be successful at the end of KS4. The Durrington ‘Growth and Threshold’ model has four thresholds; Excellence, Secure, Developing and Foundation and is loosely linked to the Solo Taxonomy approach.

For more details about Durrington High School’s experiences of implementing new assessment frameworks and to download descriptors, scheme of work, examples of student work and reflections on their assessment approach click here.

The Angmering School

The Angmering School is a large rural comprehensive school in the village of Angmering, West Sussex. The Geography department is one of the most successful within the school and is an incredibly popular option at both GCSE and A Level. Last year, the department achieved 66.1% A*-C grades at GCSE. The department consists of 5 specialist geography teachers and we currently have 12 classes of GCSE Geography across KS4.

The school took on board the mastery model, having baseline thresholds assigned to each student on entry in year 7 and then use these to assess progress throughout key stage three as below expected, at expected or above expected progress. The strategy has two foci – skills and knowledge. The skills progress is assessed throughout both lesson tasks and through assessments. The knowledge is tested primarily in the assessments within each unit of work. Students keep their work in both an exercise book and an assessment folder which they then add to throughout key stage 3 thus enabling, by the end of year a comprehensive and detailed assessment of progress.

For more details about Angmering School’s experiences of implementing new assessment frameworks and to download descriptors, scheme of work, examples of student work and reflections on their assessment approach click here.

More examples of assessment in practice

GA SGQM Centre of Excellence, Aylesbury High School, introduced a new 1 – 9 assessment framework (PDF) for key stage 3 in September 2015. Using the GA assessment and progression framework they developed a series of ‘I know…’, ‘I understand…’, ‘I can…’ statements to describe students’ progression through the three strands of knowledge, understanding and geographical enquiry. The Appleton School (also GA SGQM Centre of Excellence) have adapted and modified these statements for use in their context.

You will find these Teaching Geography articles as teachers give examples of assessment practice in their schools:

Stakes and ladders

In the response to the lifting of the requirement to report attainment and progress through levels, Tim Harris describes how the Geography Department at King Alfred School, London, devised a new model for assessing improvement in key stage 3 geography.

Creating and deploying 'hinge' questions

Simon Renshaw describes how the formative assessment of 'hinge' questions can support geographical enquiry and provide useful evidence of student progress.

Going SOLO to enhance learning and teaching

Simon Wall and Rob Manger explore how the use of SOLO technique has enhanced learning, teaching and assessment.

Have you developed any key stage 3 assessment resources for your school? Email them to rtotterdell@geography.org.uk along with a brief description of the resource.

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