Teacher Assessment of Science in English Primary Schools

Dan Davies, Christopher Collier, Rebecca Digby, Sarah Earle, Kendra McMahon

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding

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Teacher assessment of pupils’ on-going classroom science work can be a more valid means of judging their attainment than testing, because it can be based on a wider range of evidence; for example, observations, discussions and pupil presentations. However, questions remain regarding the reliability of teacher assessment, as they find such summative judgements difficult to make and have limited opportunities for moderation. This is of particular concern in England, where assessment of the new National Curriculum in science is entirely dependent on teacher assessment at primary level. The Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project aims to develop the quality and reliability of teachers’ judgements and establish a set of principles for effective assessment against which schools can evaluate their practice. It is driven by the following questions:
RQ1: What approaches are primary teachers in England currently using to assess pupils’ learning in science?
RQ2: How valid, reliable and manageable are these approaches?
RQ3: Can an approach be synthesised from elements of existing practice which embodies core principles of effective assessment?
Data collected from 12 schools have included samples of assessment materials, interviews with key staff and observations of teachers making assessments during science lessons, together with school self-analyses against a theoretical framework developed from the work of Nuffield Foundation (2012), which uses the analogy of an ecosystem pyramid of numbers to represent the flow of assessment information between formative and summative purposes. Each participating teacher has also developed and piloted classroom assessment tasks, the resulting pupil work from which has been moderated between schools. Qualitative analysis of the above data sources has fed into case studies representing a typology of approaches examined against the principles of assessment embodied in the self-evaluation framework.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScience Education Research: Engaging Learners for a Sustainable Future
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of ESERA 2015
EditorsJ Lavonen, K Juuti, J Lampiselkä, A Uitto, K Hahl
Place of PublicationHelsinki
PublisherUniversity of Helsinki
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-51-1541-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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