Assessment in Primary Science

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Assessment, monitoring and reporting

The Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project (Earle et al, 2017) explores the ways in which pupils, teachers and senior colleagues can work together to achieve a valid, reliable and manageable approach to assessment in primary science which is consistent with evidence-based research in this field, implements Nuffield (Harlen, 2012) recommendations and meets the requirements of the revised National Curriculum for England including the requirement to report on attainment at the end of key stages. The TAPS project report includes recommendations for pedagogic interventions that involve pupils, teachers, school managers and leaders at four levels:

  • 1. Ongoing formative assessment –
    • (a) Pupils’ roles eg self and peer assessment
    • (b) Teachers’ roles eg eliciting children’s ideas, adapting lessons to suit needs, feedback
  • 2. Monitoring of pupil progress eg basing judgements on a range of types of activity, taking part in moderation discussions
  • 3. Reporting to the school community eg summaries of what pupils can do for parents and colleagues
  • 4. Reporting of school performance (i.e. summative assessment informed by formative processes)

The ‘Pupil layer’ and the ‘Teacher layer’ at the base of the ‘assessment pyramid’ encapsulate the principles of Assessment for Learning; schools should begin by focusing on these layers since this is not only the foundation of the whole system, it is also where changes will have the most impact on pupil progress in Primary Science. The report concludes that schools should strive for:

  • A strong emphasis upon formative assessment
  • A concern to involve children as much as possible
  • A separation between the assessment of procedural and conceptual components of scientific attainment,
  • A rigorous approach to evidencing teacher
  • Judgements
  • A focus upon moderation of teacher judgements
For case studies of how schools and teachers have implemented the 'TAPS' approach, please see the Primary Science Teaching Trust TAPS curriculum materials: