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How do teachers *actually* assess where a child is at?

(20 Posts)
Geegee4 Fri 14-Oct-16 12:49:13

Am first to admit I find my DD's schooling and experience there anxiety-inducing. She is very timid and barely speaks a peep, is compliant and from school feedback, works hard and listens well.

I wondering though how teachers work out what children are capable of if they rarely feel brave enough to contribute? She's is Y1 so has started to do actual sit down learning activities but she's been paired with a child with motives English. Her Teacher had told me at the end of last year that children are paired based on similar ability. DD is an advanced reader and enthusiastic about maths, has the teacher missed this because she doesn't speak?

I feel like she will never be 'the squeaky wheel that gets the grease' either in a positive or negative way. There are other very able kids in the class and she comes home and regales us with tales of what the other kids said/did/ brought in from home... Meanwhile I know she's more than capable of the same level of contribution.

I worry she just doesn't get noticed. Am I being overly worries? Any suggestions? Thanks.

Geegee4 Fri 14-Oct-16 12:50:46

Sorry, a child with very little English. Really should have previewed post.

ReallyTired Fri 14-Oct-16 12:55:06

I think that teachers get to know the children in the class pretty well. The EAL child might be really bright, but just needs to build confidence with English. At year 1 age children pick up new languages really quickly. The children might be more similar than you think.

Geegee4 Fri 14-Oct-16 12:59:11

You are right of course, I didn't mean to suggest the other child might not be bright. I guess I would have hoped for a child who might bring her out of her shell a bit more.

ReallyTired Fri 14-Oct-16 13:03:30

Sometimes an over confident child can dominate. The teacher might think that being with an EAL child will push your daughter to come out of her shell as being quiet and making limited effort to communicate will get her nowhere. EAL children are often extremely quiet to begin with as they are learning so much.

Geegee4 Fri 14-Oct-16 18:09:44

That's a good point, thanks 😊

Scarydinosaurs Fri 14-Oct-16 18:12:43

In yr 1 she is still such a small child. If she enjoys school, has a positive relationship with her teacher and enjoys reading, numbers and is curious about the world...then that's all that matters.

She'll be assessed to the point of destruction by the end of her school career. Try not to worry too much about where she is now.

TeacherBob Fri 14-Oct-16 18:33:38

We have a set of things the children need to achieve.

For instance in maths:
I can solve problems for length and height by telling what is longer or shorter/taller or shorter.
I can count, read and write numbers to 100 in numerals and count in jumps of 2, 5 and 10's.
Writing might be:
I can write the correct spellings in simple sentences I hear my teacher say.
I can say what might happen next in a story.

We assess based on these statements.
All my recent schools use target tracker, this is a piece of software where you click in statement for each child to show if they are beginning to do the statement, working within the statement and exceeding the statement. It then tells you which level the child is at, at any point of the year.
Other schools use tick charts or other software.

We teach circular, so we don't just teach for instance capacity once a year, but will revisit it several times. Then when we mark books we click a statement based on how the children did.
It can be a pain in the backside to do, as we tend to know our children well, but it does make quite clear what level a child is at.

Also, we mark books/work every day and work with all the children on a daily basis, so I doubt she is being missed.

In addition, senior leadership teams take the books regularly and moderate the levels we have given them against the work in the books.

In addition to that, we have staff meetings where we look at each others books and agree a level that a child is working at.

What I am trying to say is, we don't just guess and there is quite a lot of us having to prove stuff and talk about our children in detail.

Is there a parents evening coming up? Or just ask if you can have a look at your child's books. As a general guide, always look at the independent work. If your child is getting all the questions right every time, you may have a problem. Same as if they are getting them all wrong.

(I am year 1 btw)

Hope this helps, but I will keep checking back incase you would like more detail/questions

Geegee4 Sat 15-Oct-16 23:16:36

Wow! Thank you so much- really appreciate all the time you took to reply. Thanks everyone! I hadn't appreciated how involved the marking and assessing progress is. My DDs teacher is quite experienced so I'm grateful for that- I suppose I need to be more patient and allow things to develop overtime. I just so worry that DD is such a timid thing she'd never be one to show off to the teacher what she can do like other students who bring in their Collins workbooks, or chapter and non fiction books with T of Contents. All of which we have too, but just wouldn't presume a teacher would have time/ inclination to see!!!

Ditsy4 Sun 16-Oct-16 04:32:46

Don't worry we notice the quiet ones too. They are often diligent workers and as TBob says there are lots of assessments. The post explains it well, we use a tracker too.
There should be a parent's evening around now.
I also agree about the EAL child. The teacher must think your DD is kind and patient. The teacher may also think the pairing will benefit your daughter because it will make her the confident one. They may well become firm friends.

mrz Sun 16-Oct-16 05:47:53

Teachers assess continually (not formal testing) through every interaction and piece of work but I'm wondering if the teacher has paired your daughter with another quiet child of similar ability (being EAL doesn't mean you can't do the work) rather than a louder child who may swamp her.

bojorojo Sun 16-Oct-16 06:23:31

I have rarely seen a rigid pairing working for all subject areas. Most schools at this age use tables of 6 so children work with others, not just one other child. At the school where I am a governor, teachers are expected to get contributions from all the children, not just those with their hands up. I don't know why children would bring in extra work they have completed at home to show the teacher. Is this a competitive independent school? Most state school teachers would not have time to look at 30 workbooks from home. They would, however, assess on the work they have set. Speaking and listening are important so responding to the teacher is appropriate and necessary so I would discuss this at parents' evening as suggested.

Also there are confidence boosting events like class assembly and Christmas plays coming up so you could encourage her to get a small speaking part if ones are available. Encourage her to join in because it pays dividends later. Good schools encourage all children to have a dialogue about their work and she may also find learning to play a musical instrument such as the recorder will help too.

mrz Sun 16-Oct-16 06:44:20

I don't think anyone said the children were bringing in workbooks from home but if children do bring work they've done at home state school teachers would make time to look and praise.
My Y1 children often bring in stories they've written or number work to show me.

TeacherBob Sun 16-Oct-16 08:01:54

I don't know why children would bring in extra work they have completed at home to show the teacher. Is this a competitive independent school?

WTF? and you are a governor?

Geegee4 Sun 16-Oct-16 11:54:14

It's an 'outstanding' state school...and thank you all for helping me see things different re the matching with EAL child and all the assessment stuff. I always accepted that teachers had a lot on their plates, but wow! Its such a huge part of what you're doing day to day!

TeacherBob Sun 16-Oct-16 12:13:44

You are more than welcome Geegee4

Let us know if you need any other info smile

mrz Sun 16-Oct-16 13:29:49

Remember not all schools work in the way teacherbob describes but assessment is vital if we want to plan for learning. Most assessment is ongoing and requires very little effort for an experienced teacher leaving them free to teach.

Scarydinosaurs Mon 17-Oct-16 00:10:56


Op said like other students who bring in their Collins workbooks,

mrz Mon 17-Oct-16 05:53:37

Sorry missed that.
And yes children bring in workbooks they've done at home to show the teacher and yes we admire them all and say well done.

mrz Mon 17-Oct-16 06:07:05

(And for the OP ) I would never assess my pupils on work completed at home as it's impossible to know how much is done independently.

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