Progression & Assessment

Effective planning depends on a strong vision of what it is teachers want their students to know, understand and be able to do at the end of the lesson (term/year/key stage/exam course) that they didn’t know or understand or couldn’t do before. While exam specifications provide some of this vision, many teachers have also looked to the work of historians for models of more powerful historical knowledge and argument. Since responsibility for mapping out progression at Key Stage 3 and developing systems to assess and report it effectively now rests with teachers and schools, this section includes a range of resources illustrating how teachers have developed and implemented such systems. It also includes a number of research articles (on which many of those teachers have also drawn) about common patterns of development in students’ historical thinking. Read more

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  • Adventures in assessment

    Article

    In Teaching History 157, Assessment Edition, a number of different teachers shared the ways in which their departments were approaching the assessment and reporting of students’ progress in a ‘post-levels’ world. This article adds to those examples, first by illustrating how teachers from different schools in the Bristol area are...

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  • Are we creating a generation of 'historical tourists'?

    Article

    Visual assessment as a means of measuring pupils' progress in historical interpretation  A trip to the battlefields of the First World War throws into stark relief the challenges presented by work on interpretations related to historical sites. Andrew Wrenn first drew attention to the difficulties of promoting ‘objective enquiry' alongside...

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  • Assessment after levels

    Article

    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...

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  • Assessment for Learning

    Article

    Owning their learning: using ‘Assessment for Learning' to help students assume responsibility for planning, (some) teaching and evaluationRobin Conway's interest in student led enquiry derived from a concern to encourage his students to take much more responsibility for their own learning. Here he explains how his department gradually learned to entrust...

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  • Building and assessing a frame of reference in the Netherlands

    Article

    Building and assessing a frame of reference in the Netherlands Concerns about our ability to equip young people with a frame of reference that they can actually use to orient themselves in time are widespread. The challenges were extensively debated within the last issue of Teaching History, with teachers, researchers...

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  • Building and assessing historical knowledge on three scales

    Article

    The knowledge that ‘flavours' a claim: towards building and assessing historical knowledge on three scales While marking some Year 11 essays, Kate Hammond found her interest caught by significant differences between one kind of strong analysis and another. Some scored high marks but were less convincing. The achievement in these...

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  • Building meaningful models of progression

    Article

    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...

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  • Cunning Plan 167: teaching the industrial revolution

    Article

    ‘Disastrous and terrible.’ For Arnold Toynbee, the historian who gave us the phrase ‘industrial revolution’, these three words sum up the period of dramatic technological change that took place in Britain across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We may not habitually use Toynbee’s description in the classroom, but it is...

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  • Dr Black Box or How I learned to stop worrying and love assessment`

    Article

    Drawing upon experimental work in different history departments, Mark Cottingham explores ‘assessment for learning' principles in practice. He raises the problem of a clash between these approaches and the progression model inherent in the National Curriculum Attainment Target, and, crucially, the way in which history departments are expected to use...

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  • I just wish we could go back in the past and find out what really happened': progression in understanding about historical accounts"

    Article

    This is the second in a series of articles for Teaching History in which Peter Lee and Denis Shemilt share the findings of Project Chata (Concepts of History and Teaching Approaches). In their first article (see Edition 113), they questioned the wisdom of using the National Curriculum attainment target as...

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  • Knowledge and the Draft NC

    Article

    Silk purse from a sow's ear? Why knowledge matters and why the draft History NC will not improve it Katie Hall and Christine Counsell attempt to construct a Key Stage 3 scheme of work out of the draft National Curriculum for history that was released for consultation in England in...

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  • Low-stakes testing

    Article

    The emphasis on the power of secure substantive knowledge reflected in recent curriculum reforms has prompted considerable interest in strategies to help students retain and deploy such knowledge effectively. One strategy that has been strongly endorsed by some cognitive psychologists is regular testing; an idea that Nick Dennis set out...

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  • Move Me On 144: Defines GCSE teaching in terms of a diet of practice exam questions

    Article

    This issue's problem: Roger Wendover has come to define GCSE teaching in terms of a diet of practice exam questions. Roger is a few weeks into his second placement and his mentor, John, has been taken aback by the rigid approach that he has adopted in teaching Year 10. John was...

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  • Move Me On 168: teaching exam classes

    Article

    Move Me On is designed to build critical, informed debate about the character of teacher training, teacher education and professional development. It is also designed to offer practical help to all involved in training new history teachers.  This issue’s problem: Robert Nivelle is nearing the end of his first (relatively long)...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 151: Getting beyond bad ‘source work'

    Article

    This page is for those new to the published writings of history teachers. Every problem you wrestle with, other teachers have wrestled with too. Quick fixes don't exist. But if you discover others' writing, you'll soon find - and want to join - something better: an international conversation in which...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 152: Describing Progression

    Article

    'New, Novice or Nervous?' is for those new to the published writings of history teachers. Every problem you wrestle with, other teachers have wrestled with too. Quick fixes don't exist. But if you discover others' writing, you'll soon find - and want to join - something better: an international conversation...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 160: Progression in evidential understanding

    Article

    You have a wealth of fascinating sources you would love to explore with students but despair at their seeming inability to connect ‘source work' with the construction of historical claims. Year 7 get stuck in the ‘it's biased so we can never know' trap again and again. Year 9 students...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 164: Constructing narrative

    Article

    Narrative is shedding its status as the ‘underrated skill’, re-emerging as a requirement of the new GCSE in England. As Counsell has argued, constructing a narrative is ‘no easy option’, however, and asking students to ‘Write an account…’ lacks the comfortable familiarity of ‘Explain why…’ or ‘How far…’. Fortunately, many...

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  • Nutshell 133

    Article

    Did we really need a new Attainment Target? Yes. The first one, developed in 1995, was a best effort to craft the old 1991 ‘statements of attainment' into holistic, ‘best fit' Level Descriptions. Since then, the history education community has learned a lot and some of the goals for pupils'...

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  • Opportunities, challenges and questions: continual assessment in Year 9

    Article

    Our means of assessment might pose a problem. History teachers regularly set specific targets, with implicit or explicit reference to National Curriculum Levels, which are designed to move our pupils on and make them better historians. How, though, are we to prevent them from achieving their targets in a rather...

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