One of the things I was very keen to introduce as HOD was a series of assessments that were common for every class. I couldn’t think of anything other than “Assessment Point” to call them, so that’s what they are (much as one of my Y13 tries to persuade me to call them pop quizzes!) For the Sixth Form, APs happen about every four weeks; this ties in with our school reporting timetable, so in theory it makes coherent sense.
In reality, what happened is that I forgot about the APs until the time when they were scheduled to happen, so everything has slipped a little – our first internal reports are due in a couple of days’ time, and Y12 have still to sit their first AP – but you can’t have everything all of the time. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself!
I was particularly keen to get the APs in place to help with consolidation – each AP tests all of the topics covered in the course to date, and this will mean that students are going back over their notes and revision materials on at least a monthly basis. This will be important for the linear course, but also for our Y13 students, some of whom are sitting on pretty uninspiring AS grades and need a structured reason to go back over their AS notes alongside the A2 stuff. Hopefully this spacing will help improve their recall, as well as helping to break down the compartmentalisation of knowledge; after all, A2 modules are synoptic.
The format of these APs is something that I’m less certain about, and it will be interesting to see how they develop over the next year or so. This time round it’s been short answers (and some multi-choice for the Y12), which is fine for subject content and great for marking(!), but I think that we need to move to longer answers as the pupils’ knowledge gets more robust. This can happen fairly quickly with Y13, but I’m less certain about when to move Y12 on to much longer answers in tests. We’ve already started writing explanations (and one class have had a go at an essay already), thinking about quality of written communication, but I’d rather spend a bit more time getting the written foundations in place before pushing them in an exam. Another thing to discuss at department meeting…!