Another Fine Mess

1st June 2016

Well assessment at Key stage 1 and 2 is going well isn’t it?
As far as I can see, all attempts to address the issues of life beyond levels have merely become a life with new and (different) levels.
The SATS tests were new, and depressingly similar, and children managed to exhibit the same variety of strange behaviours that they always did. Of course, EAL pupils managed to add in the extra misinterpretation that only living with several languages can offer.

If there was a genuine desire to rescue our children from the test mill of the last two decades, there should have been an abandonment of this high stakes test culture. Schools could have got to grips with the new descriptors, information could have been shared in a collegiate and supportive way, teachers might have thought about teaching and meeting pupils’ needs.
EAL pupils could have fitted into this structure and we could have developed a national understanding of what it really means to be a developing bi-lingual. But an extreme reluctance to abandon existing models of test driven accountability has prevented this. We are doing what we’ve always done, so nothing can change.

EAL assessment could have been a gainer from the new world. We have finally been able to abandon the singularly unhelpful Language In Common framework. Several groups have designed new assessment frameworks, and with a good heart, we have all tried to make them work and provide clarity for teachers, and school leaders.

Then the government chose to share the information that they would be collecting data on every single EAL pupil in the country using a five point scale. Since one of these five points is complete fluency (or proficiency), this effectively leaves four points for developing bi-lingual pupils to be slotted into.

All the new frameworks have more than four points. NASSEA has 7 or 8.
So now, everyone has to try and identify assimilation points.
Everyone has to try to understand how pupils fit into the EAL scales and age proficiency levels.
We don’t have a collective understanding of what it all means exactly.
We have no idea what KS2 results day on 5th July will bring. The secondary schools our year sixes are going to won’t understand what they are receiving.
We don’t know how to report all this to parents.
We don’t know how to reassure pupils that they have done well.
We don’t know how to reflect on our work and evaluate it.
And tomorrow it is June.

As Oliver Hardy would say “Another fine mess you got me into!”