Building meaningful models of progression

Teaching History article

By Alex Ford, published 16th December 2014

Setting us free? Building meaningful models of progression for a ‘post-levels' world

Alex Ford was thrilled by the prospect of freedom offered to history departments in England by the abolition of level descriptions within the National Curriculum.

After analysing the range of competing purposes that the level  descriptions were previously forced to serve, Ford argues that the three distinct tasks of measuring current attainment, assessing the rate of students' progress and providing guidance to them about the next steps forward simply cannot be accomplished with reference to a single scale. Drawing on range of historical scholarship as well as on educational research and the practice of history teachers in other contexts, his department have developed their own conception of progression, inspired by the principles of serving an apprenticeship within the historian's craft. Ford shares the early stages of this development process, illustrating both the kind of assessment tasks and the tracking systems that he and his colleagues have developed.

In outlining their exploratory work and the principles on which it is based, his hope is that it will inspire similar creativity and courage among others in resisting simplistic systems that fail to acknowledge either the nature of the subject or the range of purposes that any assessment and reporting system must serve...

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