What assessment resources are provided with Abacus Evolve?
Visit the Pearson website to find out about assessment within Abacus Evolve.
Abacus Evolve includes three types of assessment materials:
- Review Tasks – these are practical, adult-led, small-group activities, intended to be used at the start of each topic area. They allow the identification of common errors and misconceptions, and the diagnosis of any difficulties children may be experiencing in relation to this area.
- Assessment Tasks – these are practical, adult-led, small-group activities, designed to be used in conjunction with APP. Each task is linked to two or three Assessment Foci, and they are intended to be used, alongside other assessment evidence, to gain a secure understanding of the NC level at which each child is working.
- Assessment Tests – we provide written tests for the end of each half-term, and written and mental tests for the end of each term. For each test, answers and diagnostic advice are provided. For the end-of-term written tests, we provide guidance to convert children’s test scores into NC sub-levels.
Can I use the Assessment Tests to help me work out what National Curriculum levels my children are working at?
The Abacus Evolve end-of-term written tests can be used to assign a National Curriculum sub-level to each child. There is a mark scheme for each Year that shows you how to convert children’s raw scores into sub-levels. These mark schemes are available within two products:
- I-Planner Online: if you are using I-Planner Online, go to the All Resources tab; select Assessment Tests; select the relevant Year group; select ‘End-of-term mark scheme’.
- Assessment Kits: there are six Assessment Kit books available, one for each of Years 1 to 6. These books contain all of the Abacus Evolve assessment materials: Assessment Tasks; Review Tasks; and Assessment Tests, including the mark scheme.
Why is there no levelling guidance for the half-term tests?
When we were writing the tests and the levelling guidance, the advice we were given in our research was that it is not good practice to level children’s work using a written test more than twice a year. So we have provided three opportunities per year for this sort of assessment. The purpose of the half-term tests is not to generate a National Curriculum level for each child, but to help teachers identify areas where individual pupils or a whole class are struggling, in order to inform their next half-term’s planning.
Abacus Evolve also provides plenty of opportunities for non-test-based assessment.
Why are there fewer Assessment Tests for Year 1 than for Years 2 to 6?
There are only two Assessment Tests for Year 1 – a mental test and a written test, both designed to be used at the end of the summer term. The reason we didn’t produce tests for the first two terms of Year 1 is that, in general, children aren’t ready to sit this kind of written test until the summer term. A written test would be unlikely to give an accurate idea of a child’s mathematical level, as the results could be influenced by a variety of factors such as their ability to read and write, and their ability to sit still and concentrate for that long. Of course children’s work still needs to be levelled during Year 1, but teacher assessment is the more appropriate way to do that.
One way Abacus Evolve can help to level children in the first two terms of Year 1 is the new Assessment Tasks, which are referenced to APP. Teachers can use these alongside the Strategies APP guidelines to help them make judgements about children’s levels. The new Assessment Tasks are available in the Assessment Kit books and via I-Planner Online.
Should the scores for the mental tests be included when levelling the end-of-term tests?
The levelling guidance is only for the end-of-term written tests. The scores from the mental tests should therefore not be included. The mental test scores should be used to feed into your teacher assessment; they will help you to compare how children are doing, and identify problem areas.
How did you level the end-of-term written tests?
The levelling guidance for the tests was produced by Helene Anglaret, an educational consultant with over 20 years’ teaching experience, who has helped several schools to implement assessment procedures. Helene analysed each of the tests carefully and produced sub-levelling guidance using the National Curriculum level descriptors.
The tests were then trialled by a number of schools around the UK, and the level boundaries moderated. During the trials, we asked these schools to continue using their usual methods of judging children’s sub-levels, alongside the Abacus Evolve materials, in order to compare the results. The usual methods of levelling in these schools were the results of SATs and QCA optional tests and teacher assessment.
We believe that the resulting mark boundaries will help to give you evidence towards the National Curriculum sub-levels at which the children in your class are working. However, they should not be used as your only means of evidence; no test is guaranteed to always give an accurate idea of a child’s level of work, and they are no replacement for a teacher’s own professional judgement.
When should the Review Tasks be used?
Abacus Evolve provides 30 Review Tasks per Year, for Years 1 to 6. These allow you to review the performance of children within a specific mathematical topic. The review enables the identification of common errors and misconceptions, and the diagnosis of any difficulties children may be experiencing in relation to this area. The Review Tasks are written so that they can be used at the start of each topic area, and they can provide a valuable contribution to the formative assessment process.
See the Introduction to the Assessment Kits for more detail on using the Review Tasks.
When and how should the Assessment Tasks be used?
Abacus Evolve provides 25 Assessment Tasks per Year, for Years 1 to 6. These are levelled tasks designed for children working in a small group with the teacher. It is envisaged that they are used over a period of time so that each child will work in a group on several tasks within a term or even a half term. This should enable you to gain a good understanding of the level at which groups of children in general and specific children in particular are working. We recommend that you weave these tasks into your daily and weekly teaching schedule. This should prevent you having to allocate time outside the maths lesson for these assessments. Not all children need to do every task – the tasks should be regarded as a bank of activities to be used selectively.
The emphasis of these tasks is on providing a depth and quality of evidence about the consistency of a child’s performance. No single task can determine that a child is ‘Level 3b’. However, witnessing a child working on several tasks over a period of time should provide evidence of their functioning at a particular level mathematically and should also give an indication of their security within that level. If a child is successful in a number of tasks at a particular target level, teachers need to monitor how consistently the evidence applies to the criteria in order to determine whether the child’s performance at that level is ‘low’, ‘secure’ or ‘high’. The extent to which the evidence shows independence and choice, and the range of contexts covered, are also factors in determining a secure level. This evidence should be augmented by the information gained from general observations of each child’s verbal engagement and written work in the mathematics classroom.
See the Introduction to the Assessment Kits for more detail on using the Assessment Tasks.
How can Abacus Evolve help me with APP?
Abacus Evolve makes it easy to gather meaningful evidence on pupils’ progress, and diagnostic information about strengths and weaknesses in order to inform planning. For example:
- The Assessment Tasks are fully referenced to every Assessment Focus within the APP assessment guidelines for Years 1 to 6.
- The practical group activities are ideal for generating observations to feed into day-to-day and periodic assessment.
- The Review Tasks and Assessment Tests provide further support for assessment and diagnosis.
- I-Planner Online helps track pupils’ progress and capture valuable assessment information.
The Assessment Tasks are specifically referenced to APP, and should be used alongside the National Strategies APP Guidance and Standards file. We provide 25 Tasks per Year, giving full coverage of all the Assessment Foci. Each task is linked to two or three AFs from Number; Shape, Space and Measures; and Handling Data. In most cases there is also reference to one of the three AFs for Using and Applying Mathematics to allow you to assess AT1 in an integrated way alongside the core content aspects.
The Assessment Tests are pitched too high / too low for some of my children. What can I do?
Each test allows children to demonstrate achievement across a relatively limited range of NC sub-levels. Therefore the tests are only useful for children who are anticipated to reach the sub-levels within this range.
Although Abacus Evolve only provides ‘core’ and ‘extension’ tests (A and B, respectively), if there are several children that will find the A test too challenging then we suggest that you use the ‘A’ Test from the previous Year for this group. Similarly, if the ‘B’ Test is not stretching enough, you might want to use the ‘A’ Test from the Year above.
If there are only one or two children that need further support, we suggest that you assess them individually.
Do I need to buy the Assessment Kit books?
If you have I-Planner Online, all of the Abacus Evolve assessment materials are available to download from the I-Planner website. So you do not need to buy the Assessment Kits unless you want to have hard copies. If you are still using the CD versions of I-Planner, you will not have access to the full range of assessment materials, and so you may wish to consider either buying the Assessment Kit books or upgrading to I-Planner Online.
What is the difference between the Assessment Kit books and the Levelled Assessment Guidance books?
The Levelled Assessment Guidance books were published in October 2007. They include the end-of-term written tests, with answers and diagnostic information, and levelling guidance. The Assessment Kit books were published in May 2009. They include all of the contents of the Levelled Assessment Guidance, plus lots more: all the assessment tests; assessment tasks; and review tasks. The Assessment Kits have therefore superseded the Levelled Assessment Guidance books. The Levelled Assessment Guidance is no longer in print.
What assessment support is provided with Abacus Evolve Challenge?
Three types of assessment support are provided in the Challenge Teacher Guides:
- APP charts – for each of Years 1 to 6, we provide charts that show which of the Challenge activities could be used to provide evidence towards each of the Assessment Foci.
- KS1 assessment activities – for Years 1 and 2, we provide suggestions for activities that can be carried out with a whole class, to help identify children who have high ability in a particular area of mathematics.
- KS2 assessment activities – for each of Years 3 to 6, we provide three extended investigations, designed to help assess children’s Using and Applying skills. We suggest that your higher ability children carry out one investigation at the end of each term.