Assessment overview

Effective assessment will help to ensure that work is well matched to pupil needs and abilities. It should also help in ensuring the progressive acquisition of skills, knowledge and understanding.

Assessment is an integral part of the planning, teaching and learning process. Clearly planned assessment opportunities based on well defined learning objectives with specific identifiable outcomes inform the teaching and learning process. Success criteria may also be identified for the learning objectives to help to make recording more specific:
some pupils…, most pupils…, some will have progressed further and…
high, secure, low
or qualified by 'Below Level', 'Insufficient Evidence' etc.

Outcomes then inform future planning.

Assessment for learning has been defined as 'the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there'.

Assessment for learning recognises all educational achievement, it is part of effective planning and it focuses on how pupils learn. It is sensitive and constructive, it fosters motivation, promotes understanding of the targets pupils are aiming for and helps learners know how to improve whilst developing their own capacity for self (and peer) assessment.

Assessment of learning (summative assessment) involves making judgements at the end of a study unit or period of time, in order to provide pupils, parents and others with a detailed record of progress and of the standard of achievement attained. These judgements should be made with the intention of helping pupils to understand where they are in relation to their learning goals and be given with indications of how to make further progress.

Judgements given without diagnostic and formative comment significantly affect the motivation of the pupil to learn.

Teaching objectives and learning outcomes

Teaching objectives give a framework for the development of progressive targets in each key stage - providing small steps for pupils to move through the units of learning. Individual pupil targets can be based on the learning outcomes and these may be negotiated with the pupils using appropriate language.

Planning for learning:

Planning for progression:

Assessing attainment

The two attainment targets, Learning about religion (AT1) and Learning from religion (AT2) are closely related and neither should be taught in isolation. Therefore assessment needs to take place in relation to both attainment targets.

In deciding on a pupil's level of attainment at the end of a key stage, teachers should judge which description best fits the pupil's performance. When doing so, each description should be considered alongside assessing pupil progress (APP) descriptions.

Assessing AT2

It is important to note that not all aspects of religious education can be assessed. Pupils may express personal views and ideas that, although integral to teaching and learning in RE, would not be appropriate for formal assessment. There is also some concern that teachers' assessment of AT2 may sometimes involve a 'personal' rather than an 'impersonal' evaluation.

For example, AT2 at Level 1 asks that:
Pupils talk about their own experiences and feelings, what they find interesting or puzzling and what is of value and concern to themselves and to others.

This is an example of personal evaluation which may be defined as:
To discern the value and significance of learning from religion:
does / should religion have an impact on my life?

Alternatively the Level 1 statement could become:
Pupils make very simple judgements expressing their own view about religion or belief using very simple reasons usually expressed in a single clause.

This is an example of impersonal (or critical) evaluation which may be defined as:
To argue, come to a conclusion, justify conclusions, weigh up different conclusions

The use of impersonal assessment helps teachers to support children in improving their reasoning skills. Scales of reasoning may work for Level 4 and beyond - younger children need to discover, discuss and explore.

The conversation about personal / impersonal evaluation in RE will continue...
(Feb 2011)

Recording and reporting

Schools are expected to record pupil progress and achievement in RE. Schools should base ongoing assessment and recording upon the learning outcomes within the six fields of enquiry. The APP grids offer opportunities for assessment against aspects of the RE Learning Cycle, though these are not specific to AT1 and AT2. The APP grids are colour-coded to match aspects of the RE planning model.

Religious education is subject to the DfE reporting arrangements published each year. It is necessary, as with other subjects, for schools to report pupils' progress and attainment in RE to parents at least annually. Comments within such reports should be based upon the two attainment targets and informed by assessments against the teaching objectives.

In deciding on a pupil's level of attainment when reporting to parents, teachers should judge which description from the non-statutory eight level scale best fits the pupil's performance. There are no statutory assessment requirements in religious education, but schools must report to parents on pupils' progress.

The expectation of this agreed syllabus is that schools should report pupils' progress with reference to national expectations. This report may also indicate their actual level of attainment as a best-fit overall level, averaged between AT1 and AT2.

Assessment and special educational needs

Assessment is an essential aspect of planning RE for pupils identified as having special educational needs. It provides information about pupil progress and attainment, alongside opportunities to inform future planning, target setting and individual education plans.

In the case of pupils identified as having special educational needs, it is important that assessment opportunities arising from non-verbal and verbal responses are taken fully into account. Notes on pupil observations and verbal/non-verbal responses, photographs and audio tapes can all help to provide evidence of achievement and form a basis for assessment.

The P scales provide a starting point for assessment pupil for pupils working towards level 1 of the non-statutory eight level scale.