Your Assessment Toolbox

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Mathematics Mastery has been the approach for the teaching of Mathematics, in KS1, at The Mill Primary for a year now. As a Year 6 teacher, I was keen to unpick the success of the programme and what we can learn from the Mathematics Mastery approach to assessment.

Launched across KS1 it has been received to much adulation from teachers however the approach has cemented itself as an effective pedagogy with data supporting its effectiveness in raising attainment.

Further inspection of Mathematics Mastery reveals a programme driven by a sound evidence base. Unpicking the bones of the scheme reveals that it’s success is driven by moving beyond superficial learning to a process involving making learning deep and sustainable. Pupils are engaged and encouraged to develop fluency and conceptual understanding by re visiting previous learning. This is achieved through a series of assessment tasks driven by research around retrieval, most notably Soderstrom  and Bjork and the work on Performance vs Learning as well as Ebbinghaus and his work on the Forgetting Curve.

So how do the assessment tasks in Mathematics Mastery marry with research?

Do Now: The purpose of the ‘Do Now’ in Mathematics Mastery is to consolidate previous learning. This could be recapping on what was learnt the day before or a topic from a previous unit that is necessary for the current lesson. This marries with Ebbinghaus work on the forgetting curve. Unless we interrupt the forgetting, learning will not transfer to long term memory.

Maths meetings: Mathematics Mastery run daily ‘Maths Meetings’. These allow the daily integration of maths into the timetable. This means that pupils are practicing concepts and skills on a regular basis, meaning they are continually building on their mastery of these concepts. Practicing skills on a regular basis means pupils are moving beyond PERformative assessment and show that learning is beyond the ‘fleeting moment during the lesson’ (Soderstrom and Bjork)

 Termly assessment: These assessments are designed to be completed at the end of a unit of learning and they assess pupils’ learning across the curriculum strands.

What can we learn from Mathematics Mastery approach to assessment?

We must use the principles In Mathematics Mastery to underpin our assessment in maths. This will support teachers in being confident in making accurate assessments of pupil progress. It will answer the question how do you know?  Using a Mathematics Mastery approach toward assessment gives you the opportunity to gather feedback that can directly feedback to students -short-run low-stakes formative assessment . Rather than as Tom Sherrington quotes ” Having central tracking data that is so large that the people who receive it can’t action it in any detail; it might tell them something about what’s going on but they can’t use it to inform actions at the level of teacher-student interactions in classrooms”.

Application in the classroom (try this now):

  1. Implement a ‘Do now’ task designed to consolidate last lesson-making connections with prior learning.
  2. Set up ‘Maths meetings’ – comprising last week, last lesson last month. Provide opportunities to re visit content.
  3. Build in regular low stakes testing– designed so pupils are retrieving what has been taught. If this is done in a three weekly cycle you can build in time to give purposeful feedback.

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