Assessment after levels

Free Teaching History article

By Geraint Brown and Sally Burnham, published 16th December 2014

Ten years ago, two heads of department in contrasting schools presented a powerfully-argued case for resisting the use of level descriptions within their assessment regimes. Influenced both by research into the nature of children's historical thinking and by principles of assessment for learning, Sally Burnham and Geraint Brown argued that meaningful assessment could not be achieved by reference to a single measurement scale. Instead, they proposed the use of task-specific markschemes that properly acknowledge the interplay between the development of conceptual thinking and substantive knowledge in history.

In light of their own continued experimentation and critical evaluation, and drawing insights from other history teachers' research, Brown and Burnham here take readers back again to first principles - the varied purposes of assessment - to help determine the approaches that will best achieve each of them. They share further examples of task-specific mark schemes from across Key Stage 3 (illustrating their conception of students' progress in characterising change and continuity) and provide some essential ‘Dos' and ‘Don'ts' for history departments reviewing or re-designing their assessment practices.

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