Preparing for APP

The more I look at Assessing Pupils’ Progress (APP), the more I like what has been done. The problem I have is that I need to devise some kind of recording and reporting mechanism, and this is proving a little tricky – so let me explain what I’ve got so far.

Based on this grid, it seems that most of the criteria can be split into 3 sections, and then into 3 sub-sections that are assessed as meeting Level 3, 4, 5 or 6. Levels 7 and 8 are a little more tricky, but are also rare (IME) and so I’m concentrating on 3 – 6 for now.

So I can give each student a Level for each of the relevant descriptors, and this will build up over the course of KS3 into a picture of exactly what the student has achieved, and when. But how?

The solution needs to be accessible to all ICT teaching staff, and if it produces a nice output to show students, then so much the better. We could do this in a GoogleDocs spreadsheet, but there would be over 700 worksheets (at 1 per pupil). We could try using a Pivot Table, but you’d still have a significant issue of scale. I think the solution needs to be a database.

I’m not an expert in databases. I can quite happily plow through GCSE and AS level problems, but in the real world it gets more difficult. I’ve knocked up an E-R diagram (below) that outlines my thoughts, but I don’t know how efficient or elegant that database structure really is.

In terms of platform, I could make an Access database, but then it wouldn’t be readily accessible. I don’t have the skills to implement a MySQL/PHP solution and the only online DBMS solutions I have found (e.g. Zoho) don’t work beyond a basic flat-file graphing and analysis tool.

So, thoughts and ideas welcome!

NB. Actually, I would probably split the Descriptor entity and have 1-many with a ‘category’ table (each category having 3 descriptors).


12 thoughts on “Preparing for APP

  1. Mark,

    Is this going to feed into some kind of whole-school ‘pupil performance management’ system that reports back several times per year? If so, I think a wait-and-see policy regarding what the SLT want might be in order.

    That being said, they’ll probably appreciate you devising a system. In Access (or indeed any database application) you can create a nice front-end that will allow input to the database. It’s kind of a much more sophisticated version of what Year 8 at my last school did when they devised a theatre booking system.

    So, no rival ideas really. I completely understand what you mean r.e. it being unwieldy in Google Docs. Perhaps Google need a database app.? šŸ™‚

  2. Mark,

    We have extended our Serco MIS via Eportal to do some gradebooks for departments that can do things like work out the highest 4 marks accross a range of assignments and the calculate a grade combined with their exam result.

    This has the advantage of plugging into teaching groups and we can also include showing the FFT/School targets on the assessment entry form as well.

    We did this in house without consultants, but does not some knowledge of inner workings of the Facilty Assessment Template process.

    Parents can also see the marks given via our Moodle MIS integration šŸ™‚

    One issue you will have with creating a custom system is keeping the teaching groups upto date. Which is why I am phasing out the spreadsheets that used to be used in our school for this sort of system. There are also some security issues about storing pupils details on custom systen that you would need to wacth out for,

    In theory you could use Moodle to do something similar we are able to import teaching groups from our MIS into moodle and setup assignments based on teaching groups? Maybe even create a custom moodle module?

    I hope I am not trying to put you off going down the create your own route, as design still valid for what ever system it is implemented on. If you do want to go down the roll your own route then let me know and I can advise of some tools that would make this slightly less painfull.


  3. the more I look at this, the more I realise that this isn’t a simple Teaching & Learning problem, and the more I think that while it’s good to have a significant say in this, creating the solution is really beyond my remit. I don’t have *time* to be engineering a complex solution, but a short term one isn;t really going to help much.

    On the plus side, our sets don’t move around and if we label them by intake year (e.g. 06A1 instead of 9A1) then it saves re-jigging things. Pfeh. Think I would rather be marking, for a change šŸ™‚

  4. Can I check a few facts? Is the idea that you include these various statements, and students pick the ones they feel they meet and it returns a level grade for them?

    If so the obvious solution is to build it as a quiz in moodle, then match the questions with scores – mayble level 3 gets 1 point for each statement, level 4 gets 10, level 5 gets 100, level 6 gets 1000 etc…

    Then determin their level by looking at the total score, and return the level based upon how far through each interval they are…

    If this sounds like the kind of thing you are interested I’ll can have a go at putting something like this together for you to look at…

  5. Tim: Drupal. Hmmm. Another CMS to go along with Moodle, Mahara, Joomla, ELGG, WPMU, B2Evo…. I’m getting brain fade just listing all the systems we already use! šŸ™‚

    Andy:The idea is that the staff grade the students. While self assessment is a very useful tool, I’m really after a recording and reporting tool right now that we teachers use to assess the pupils’ progress šŸ˜‰ While we could do it as a quiz, it doesn’t really have the recording capabilities in terms of when that criteria was met (which unit), etc.

  6. Aghhh I hate you anti-spam word – I have type this 3 times now and forgottent to put in the word… And when you go back it has forgotten what I typed…

    Anyway let me check, you want techers to select the statements from this list for each student (per unit)? How do you want this infor fed back? Levels/sublevels returned to students, students can see which statements were ticked etc?

    Just trying to get a clear picture of what you are after…

  7. Kerry complained about that earlier, but can;t see a way to take it off šŸ˜¦

    At the end of a unit of work, teachers should have a series of criteria (e.g. planning an ICT solution, evaluating the effectiveness of the solution, etc. – although not all 9 will be relevant for every unit) and then award a level for that criteria (e.g. 4). As there are 9 criteria, this should build up over time into a picture of increasing ability and understanding and we should be able to track when that criteria was met.

    If a student has met all criteria to L4 and 5 or 6 to L5 then they would be graded as 5c (working towards L5). On getting all L5 they would be 5b (secure L5) and having moved on to 2 or 3 L6 they would be 5a (beyond L5).

  8. Hmmm… tough one. This would be very easy to do in access but how to build it into moodle is far less ovious…

    It would make a nice little module in it’s own right though – if I had the time I would offer to write it for you. It would just need to present a screen for each student enrolled in course with various tick boxes and then do some calculations on them…

    You may be able to find a freelance coder to write it for you…

    The other alternative would be to do them as a collection of offline activities, one for each level and get staff to enter the grade as a 0-3 depending on how many statements achieved for each level, then do a calculated grade to workout the sublevel depending on what criteria you choose. Not idea as you will not be able too see which statments you said they could do… Or one step further and have an assigngment for each statment taking a 0 or 1, then a calculated grade… This gives you a full picture but is a little slower to enter. I would suggest you use ‘quickgrade’ in the gradebook and just fill in the 0,1’s then again use the calculated field to generate the final level…

  9. There is an existing Moodle block (Progress, by Mark Tyers) which does something similar with OCR Nationals grades (Pass, Merit, Distinction) but it’s hard coded and having spent about 8 hours trying to hack the PHP I ended up with a broken Moodle šŸ˜¦ DM me your email address and I’ll chuck over what I have done.

  10. It’s important to remember that APP is applied across a sample of work and requires judgement. The idea is that, when you look at a sample you make a judgement about what ‘level’ it is indicative of. It is definately NOT about producing a piece of work to ‘qualify’ for a certain criteria.

    If you ‘do’ APP after a single unit of work you may not have enough evidence to make a rounded judgement – the aim is to make rounded, wholistic judgements, not fragmented ones.

    An APP tracker system might be an electroning record keeping system but should not actually calculate levels – this is still down to ‘judgement’. I think you’d also need to keep dates of when the various assessments were made and when the overall ‘level’ was re-evaluated so that you can track progress over time.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could link the assessment made to pupil work and some teacher comment? – it seems to me that this is beyond a basic Access database. TAG are working on this through their MAPS project which seems well though through and integrates with Moodle I think.

    There may well be a case for a simple recording system but I would try to limit the scope of such a project so that you don’t try to do everything. I have seen an Access database for just this which I will try to dig out and upload for you.

  11. In response to the first paragraph, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. The descriptors have been split into 9 sections and staff will have to judge what level students are working at for each of the relevant descriptors (e.g. when researching and presenting on a controversial topic there will be very few opportunities to hit any ‘sequencing’).

    I also agree that simple, summative levelling is not what is required – and the idea is very much that staff will be assessing as they go, this won’t be based on one assessed piece of work – but will be linked to units of work (so we can say that ‘Little Johnny’ did well during the early part of the year, but struggled after Easter).

    Using the DB as devised above, it would be possible to see when tasks were met, and by a relatively simple expansion, to track who has provided that assessment – or using a tiny bit of leg work even without that expansion.

    As for MAPS, I have used it to submit iMedia coursework and have to say I was singularly unimpressed with its usability and intuitiveness.

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