Verdict on APP in KS3 Science generally positive despite fears about increased workload
26 May 2010
Views about the introduction of Assessing Pupils’ Progress (APP) in KS3 Science are mixed, according to NFER’s new survey of LA secondary science consultants. Although they believe that APP is making a positive contribution to teaching and learning, they expressed concerns about its manageability.
Assessment: APP is supporting the re-professionalisation of teachers and increasing their confidence, by supporting their classroom assessment in a structured way and putting trust in their abilities. It also supports teaching and learning by promoting Assessment for Learning (AfL) in the classroom, giving pupils feedback and information about the next steps in their learning.
However, the consultants expressed concerns about APP becoming a ‘bolt-on’ assessment rather than embedded within current practices. Potential reasons were teachers having a lack of understanding of APP and AfL approaches and problems with APP criteria including too many complicated or vague statements.
Science: The LA consultants felt that APP positively supports the development of How Science Works at KS3 and that teachers now have greater creativity in the classroom. This has the potential to have a positive impact on pupils, as it should encourage greater engagement and motivation.
Manageability is the main concern highlighted by the consultants. Support from Senior Leadership Teams is vital; if they are ‘on board’ with the principles of APP they will make available sufficient time to train teachers and for teachers to develop resources. In schools where this is not the case the introduction of APP may be seen as an increase in teacher workload.
Concerns were raised about the potential volume of information on pupils’ progress which needs to be recorded, and which may feel overwhelming and unmanageable.
Make it clearer that APP, whilst central, is not the only means of assessment. It can be used in conjunction with more traditional forms of summative assessment e.g. tests.
Provide more guidance and examples of how to gather evidence from day-to-day assessment which can then be used to inform periodic assessment.
Provide more information to Senior Leadership Teams so they have an even clearer understanding and appreciation of APP in their schools.
Sufficient time needs to be made available for teachers to understand the APP criteria, evaluate current practices, develop existing schemes of learning and practice assessment.
NFER’s Naomi Rowe said: “As APP in KS3 Science is non-statutory, It’s important to continue to actively promote it, especially as the abolition of KS2 and KS3 science National Curriculum tests may result in science having a lower priority in schools overall.“
Assessing Pupil’s Progress (APP) in Key Stage 3 Science is available at /publications/ASK02/.
For more information contact Gail Goodwin, NFER Media and Communications Manager, on 01753 637159, firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
The aim of this research project is to look at the uptake and implementation of APP in KS3 science following its introduction in January 2009. The findings will provide science specialists with an overall picture of the current assessment context and identify areas where further support is needed.
The project had three components:
- a brief review of the policy context in which APP is being introduced;
- the results of two questionnaires sent to all Local Authority (LA) secondary science consultants in England – one in May 2009 and one in September 2009;
- a review of support materials/resources available to support APP in science at KS3.
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