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Thesis title: Assessment of Primary School Science: Understanding when and how effective formative assessment is being performed whilst teaching creatively for science
Start year: 2013
The use of summative attainment tests (SATs) in primary school science, at the end of key stage 2, was abolished in 2009, due to the failure to produce complete and relevant information on the performance of individual children (Harlen, 2012) and having narrowing constraints on the teachers ability to teach creatively (Harlen, 2008). Teachers are currently producing summative attainment levels by formatively assessing and judging their students’ on-going conceptual development and performance throughout the academic year (Harlen, 2012). Whilst a general consensus regarding generalised best approaches to formative assessment practice has not been established (Dunn and Mulvenon, 2009), Turner et al (2012:22) has listed some of the strategies currently being utilised. There has been attempts to aid formative judgements including the now abandoned Assessing Pupils Progress (APP) project, initially it appeared to provide consistency and confidence in teacher based judgements (Turner et al, 2012) but unfortunately due to unwieldy alignment of assessment focuses to learning outcomes the project was abandoned (Harlen, 2012; Tyler, 2013). Other assessment strategies, which appear to have their roots tentatively based in the APP framework, have been trialled and initial results looked promising; teacher’s feedback included growing confidence in assessing student learning and the ability to plan more creatively and engage the children in science (Tyler, 2013). McGregor (2012) has shown that children’s scientific learning can be more easily accessed by teachers via an open, task rich, student-orientated, pedagogical cross-curricula approach combined with the creative arts, such as those described by McGregor and Precious (2010); this method could be distinguished as an rich-insightful formative assessment strategy and may help to alleviate teacher anxiety about summative assessments being based solely on their own formative judgements, however more research is required to reach a consensus of opinion regarding what generally constitutes a good potential assessment strategy.