Under a levels culture, the process of assessment often felt like it was forced upon you; everything geared up to an 'Assessment Week' where a set of numbers would be generated, pigeon-holing both you and your children. It connoted judgement, fear and malpractice. However, by putting learning first (within the new curriculum), of which assessment is very much a necessary part, you can genuinely do a better job.
Under the old National Curriculum, and associated strategies, I would sit for hours, writing the objectives out, fitting them to the weeks I had (because we are under a strange illusion that coverage is more important than grasping anything) and then plan and teach based on the timings I had meticulously worked out.
Now, I'm not saying that coverage isn't important - you have to learn how to manage the time you have available - but I was determined to find a more efficient solution.
- I have discovered, in some cases, some objectives can be completely ignored (or can be used to form other challenges that don't require teaching) because my children have shown adequate capability.
- I have noticed common misconceptions through their answers, which helps me nail the input of each lesson.
- I have adapted my questions to cause them to keep encountering the aspects they find most tricky, in order to get the most practice.
The same is true of English; it's a total waste of time to plough through the objectives in your year group when there are many pieces of criteria that aren't embedded, especially while we are still in this transition phase, with some year groups having not completed the new curriculum from the beginning.
For this reason, I developed my own assessment system that I felt would work. There are lots of creases still to iron out, but I'm grateful for the staff in my school for taking it on board and being so patient with me.
Again, take charge. Many of the systems out there are created by people who have no idea in what capacity it will need to be used. So take a little time to think about what you actually need, and create your own!