In 2014 The Commission for Assessment without Levels (CAWL 2015) began a major review of statutory assessment arrangements for pupils in England. The subsequent report contained a number of negative observations about the relative value of assessing pupils by reference to national curriculum levels. Of particular interest was the comment, “Too often levels became viewed as thresholds and teaching became focused on getting pupils across the next threshold instead of ensuring they were secure in the knowledge and understanding defined in the programmes of study.” In response to these findings, the CAWL report supported the removal of national curriculum attainment levels. The report also questioned the validity of continuing to statutorily assess low attaining pupils by reference to the P Scale levels, extending the rationale used above by adding the comment, “Assessing pupils with complex needs and those with very low attainment can be more complicated than assessing other pupils and implementing the principles of assessment may sometimes need to be approached differently”. The CAWL report suggested that to continue the P level approach was likely to reinforce what the report described as school based “myths” associated with the inflated value which schools mistakenly believe Ofsted inspectors place upon P level progression data when they judge a school’s rigour in carrying out pupil assessment and the relative overall standard of pupil progress.
In September 2015, prompted in part by the findings of the CAWL review, the Department for Education (DfE) instructed the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) to commission a more in depth review of pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. This has since become known as The Rochford Review. Included in its terms of reference were specific requirements for the group to review the statutory assessment of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and make recommendations about:
How P scales fit with the wider approach to assessment and whether they need to be revised;
How proposed solutions might recognise achievement and progress made by all pupils;
How any proposed solutions might support the ambitions of the most recent SEND reforms;
How any proposed solution(s) might assist with school inspection and improving accountability for SEND provision;
Consider what might be the wider implications for professional development requirements in the implementation of any proposed solutions.
Of particular importance were requests that the Rochford Review consider whether P levels remained fit for purpose and, should the review make recommendations to improve current statutory assessment arrangements, how any proposed solutions would support the ambitions of other SEND related assessment procedures such as those required by the SEND Code of Practice (2014) and The Children and Families Act (2014).
To continue reading Richard’s review of the Rochford Report, please see the full document below.