Holistic assessment through speaking and listening: an experiment with causal reasoning and evidential thinking in Year 8


By Giles Fullard and Kate Dacey, published 29th July 2008

Giles Fullard and Kate Dacey wanted to enrich their department's planning for progression across Key Stage 3 with a strong sequence of activities fostering argument. They wanted an opportunity for students to draw together their prior (Year 7 and early Year 8) learning within causal reasoning and evidential thinking, with some challenging activities that would integrate the two. They wanted a framework that would provide plenty of support and access for the lower-attainer and real stretch and challenge for the ablest. Above all, they wanted to find a way of assessing the quality of pupils' thinking and learning at this stage so that the results would be diagnostically useful in continuing to improve both departmental planning for progression and support for individual students. Reluctant to park Level Descriptions on single pieces of work, and yet required to report on Levels by their school, they managed to please all parties with a series of linked enquiries each culminating in a Levels-related oral assessment. The three assessments were then combined to produce a best-fit Level.

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