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How do we assess progress and attainment at Plumcroft?

There is now a new National Curriculum and the old levels are gone, so Plumcroft has determined our own way of assessing progress and attainment.  Find out how.

Levels (eg. 2B, 3C, 4B, 5A) were removed 12 months ago in September 2015 and all schools were expected to determine their own way of assessing progress and attainment. National SATs still happen at the end of Year 2 (Key Stage 1) and at the end of Year 6 (Key Stage 2), these assessed the new national curriculum for the first time in 2015/16.

At Plumcroft we completed a detailed due diligence process and in January 2015 we decided to implement the Renaissance Learning assessment systems known as STAR Reading and STAR Maths. These assessments are used by over 816,000 children in UK schools and so we have a massive national sample group against which to compare our performance in every year group from Year 2 to Year 6.

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) mapped all STAR assessments to the new national curriculum. The Renaissance Learning systems are also used worldwide in more than 40,000 schools in over 60 countries. Their core purpose is to “accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide.” 



One of the key attainment and progress measures we use is the Age Standardised Score. The graph shows the distribution of scores that can be achieved – the norm is 100 and can be used by all year groups. This effectively shows the lowest possible score on the left of the graph (least able children) to the highest possible score on the right of the graph (most able children). The two extremes will naturally not have that many children in those ranges. The majority of children will be somewhere around the middle which is why 100 is called the norm.

All 816,000 children have their scores compared to each other by their date of birth in years and months and so the issue of summer born and autumn born children is taken into account within the data so we are comparing like-for-like. Each child will get an Age Standardised Score (NRSS) every time they take an assessment (every 6 weeks at Plumcroft) in either Reading or Maths and so we can quickly see if they are above or below the norm by looking at the number they get.

The tests are administered in class using iPads. Each child has a unique login and the system will ensure that no child will see the same question at the same time as any other child in the group. The questions are linked to the prior ability of each child from the previous test and it will keep making the questions more challenging as long as the child is getting the answers right. The question difficulty does not stop at Year 6 but continues up to Year 13 so we are able to genuinely assess our most able children and plan their learning needs accordingly.

The assessments are instantly marked by the system so we are able to get the results the same day. All staff can securely access the results and start adjusting planning straight away.

This is how we group children according to their Age Standardised Score:

  1. ‘Above Benchmark’ – score above 115. This means they are the most able children and would be considered as ‘Gifted & Talented’.
  2. ‘At Benchmark’ – score above 95 but below 115. This means they are performing in line with all other children their age across the country.
  3. ‘On Watch’ – score above 85 but below 95. This indicates they are operating a bit below the expected norm for their age and may need some targeted ‘in-class’ support for specific areas of learning.
  4. ‘Intervention’ – score above 77 but below 85, they are likely to be on our SEND register and receiving in-school support.
  5. ‘Urgent Intervention’ – score below 77, they will almost certainly be on our SEND register and may be receiving external specialist support.

Every 6 weeks, we generate ‘Screening Reports’ that show every class teacher the scores achieved by every child in their class. We then have ‘Pupil Progress Meetings’ to discuss every child’s learning needs and teachers adjust their planning as a result. The Pupil Progress Meetings are the most important operational meetings in the school and the Senior Management Team, class teachers and Governors are all involved.

The screening reports contain other information that helps guide our review decisions such as Reading Age (RA), Percentile Rank (PR) and what’s called a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) for Reading – this is a number that directly links to all the reading books in our school which are part of the Accelerated Reader system. We have been using Accelerated Reader since November 2015 and we are one of a small number of schools nationally that are designated as being part of the ‘Renaissance School Partnership’. This means we get significant additional Professional Development support and challenge from Renaissance Learning Specialists. I am also the only UK Headteacher on the Renaissance Advisory Board.

The ZPD ensures that children select from a range of books that will develop and extend their reading over time. This is monitored very closely as every child completes a quiz about each book they read and outcomes are reviewed and planning for learning adjusted as a result.

The 2015/16 Academic Year was the first full year in which we used the Renaissance Learning systems to assess children throughout the year using a Nationally Standardised system.

We are reviewing all the data to build into a new Self Evaluation Form (SEF) which will then be used to create a new School Development Plan (SDP). Every child has already been reviewed at the half-termly Pupil Progress Meetings and the data from these Screening Reports has been collated into strategic data documents that provide a consistent reporting format across the year groups.

All key groups have data documents so we can review how each have performed compared to the rest of the school and nationally. The main groups under review are Pupil Premium/Non Pupil Premium; English as an Additional Language (EAL)/Non-EAL; Girls/Boys; SEN/Non SEN.

The SEF will identify what we are doing well in terms of pupil progress and attainment. It will also identify those areas that need further development. We will focus on each key group as well as the whole school.

The SDP will then take the key recommendations of the SEF and identify the things we need to continue doing well. It will also identify what we think we need to do to improve those areas that need development. Clear timescales, people responsible and costs will be identified for each action and this will be reviewed every 6 weeks after the STAR assessments and Pupil Progress Meetings have been completed.

Read our School Development Plan 2015-2019 here.

If you have any questions about how we assess progress and attainment at Plumcroft them please contact me at