PA Ghost Rows – using formative assessment to support teaching and learning

As more and more schools are recognising that it is neither necessary, nor effective to collect reams of meaningless, points-based progression data, many are opting to reduce teacher workload and are turning to more simplistic Point in Time Assessment (PITA) models instead.

In most cases, PITA data is collected on a termly basis, by SLTs for whole school or year group analysis – to determine which students are on track and which are not. Provided that is all the data is used for, it can be very effective, but this level of data isn’t particularly useful for teachers in that it tells them nothing about what pupils can and can’t do and it certainly doesn’t provide them with the information they need to address any issues or areas of concern. 

Least of all, it doesn’t always reflect how much academic progress pupils are really making across subjects.

In this Blog, I want to highlight one of my favourite features in Pupil Asset – the Pupil Asset Ghost Rows which can be an effective tool to support teaching and learning as well as being a good basis for discussions around individual pupil progress. 

Are lower attaining children really narrowing/closing the gap?

Some of your pupils may not be accessing the current year’s curriculum and are being continually assessed as Below ARE. In terms of value added, these pupils could still be reported as making progress – after all the gap hasn’t got wider. But are they really making progress and closing the gaps? Worse still, are the gaps widening? 

Both Arlie and Harris are Year 6 pupils working on the Year 4 curriculum and both have been assessed as BELOW ARE; however, over the last term, Arlie has acquired several new skills and has embedded others within the Year 4 curriculum whereas Harris has made very little progress towards closing the gaps. 

Are all your higher attaining children reaching their full potential?

Some of our highest attaining children continually exceed age-related expectations and, unlike previously where pupils were simply pushed to the next level, students are now encouraged to deepen and broaden their understanding of the current year’s curriculum before moving on. However, how much are they really ’embedding’? Are they simply coasting through the remainder of the year? How do you know that a pupil is actually ‘mastering’ the curriculum?

In this example, both children have been assessed as Exceeding ARE on the basis that they routinely exceed expectations and are developing a deeper understanding of the curriculum. Neither are likely to be flagged up during a pupil progress meeting if viewing PITA grades alone, however, these two children have actually made very different amounts of progress. Whereas Allegra has mastered a large number of skills over the last term, it is very clear that Kainan is not making much progress – he is coasting and may not be reaching his full potential.

Pupils at opposite sides of a ‘band’ can have more in common than pupils within a band

Remember when 2a to 4c and 2c to 4a were both counted as 2 levels of progress – even though the pupils had actually made very different amounts of progress? What about two children who were previously assessed as Working Towards ARE, who are now Working At ARE?

In this example, both students were assessed as Working Towards ARE in the Autumn Term on the basis that they were not securing enough of the National Curriculum objectives that had been taught to date to be considered as Working AT ARE.

By Spring Term, both students have filled many of the gaps and are now considered to be Working AT ARE; however, Franky has made far more progress  to get there than Alex who wasn’t that far behind to begin with.

Of course, there will be some that argue that this granular level of data needn’t be collected at all, especially when considering teacher workload; however, with the Pupil Asset frameworks being fully customisable, the number of objectives can be reduced to key performance indicators (KPIs) if preferable. Also, with features such as the Teacher App for quick collection of evidence and the Achievement Summary / Achievement List also generating useful information from the input of such data, I would argue that time can be saved elsewhere on things like planning, marking, differentiation, target setting, gap analysis, intervention planning, and report writing / sharing information with parents. 

It’s not for everyone, I know, but personally, I love our formative assessment tools. Using formative data in this way can help ensure that children are not moving through the curriculum with huge gaps in their understanding and it can provide valuable information to support with consolidation or mastery of key skills. 

Finally, it is worth pointing out that in Pupil Asset, this is not (30 x children) x (30 x objectives) x (3 x colours) x (3 x terms) = a million boxes to tick for each subject.  

If every objective is taught and achieved, that is just 30 boxes coloured green, over a year = 1 box a week for each child for each subject… much less scary maths! 

For more information on formative analysis tools on Pupil Asset, see the Formative section in our How-to-Guide.