Performance descriptors risk undermining the benefits of teacher assessment, warns NFER Thinks paper
11 February 2015
The new performance descriptors, proposed for use in statutory teacher assessment, risk undermining the benefits of teacher assessment unless they are revised, according to a paper published today by NFER.
NFER Thinks: Performance descriptors risk undermining the benefits of teacher assessmentexamines the implications of the latest stage of government reforms to the assessment and accountability arrangements for primary schools.
In the paper, NFER argues that teacher assessment is an important component of a teacher’s toolkit. However, the new performance descriptors, as proposed, risk blunting its effectiveness and so require careful consideration.
Evidence from NFER research points to four key recommendations for the Department for Education to:
- Provide a range of performance descriptors both above and below the national standard for reading and mathematics (and science) for Key Stage 2
- Reduce and refine the performance descriptors to encapsulate only the key elements that pupils need to know and understand in order to make further progress in the subjects
- Develop exemplification (in the form of moderated samples of pupils’ work) to cover the range of performance seen at the end of each key stage, not just exemplification of the national standard
- Build capacity in teacher assessment and improve the reliability of teachers’ professional judgements, by giving moderation a high priority.
Co-author Liz Twist, head of the NFER Centre for Assessment, said: “If modified according to our recommendations, the performance descriptors have the potential to support effective good quality teacher assessment; provide useful communication tools for pupils, parents and other stakeholders; demonstrate that attainment and progress are equally important; and ultimately improve the quality of teaching and learning.”
The Government consultation on performance descriptors is due to publish its results later this month.