Assess for Success is a programme created by Manchester College that aims to improve the assessment of learners resitting GCSE English. Teachers were provided with a paper-based diagnostic assessment to establish students’ strengths and weaknesses in key English skills; progress assessments for teachers to monitor student development over the year; a skills profile sheet that describes the eight key English skills; and two learner tracking tools, that allowed students to track their own progress.
These resources were supported by a programme of CPD, including 4 days of training and practice sharing, peer mentoring from staff at Manchester College, and a ‘community of practice’ within each participating college which encouraged teachers to reflect on their current practice and review progress
Since 2014, students without a good pass in English and Maths GCSE (a ‘4’ or higher under the new GCSE grading system) must continue to study these subjects until they are 18, or secure a qualification in them. This pilot was funded by the EEF as part of a joint initiative with J.P. Morgan to explore how to improve outcomes for disadvantaged 16- to 18-year-old students who are required to re-sit these exams.
The pilot found that teachers and coordinators considered the Diagnostic Assessment as used in the programme to be an improvement on the assessment they had previously been using. However, the resources for teachers required improvements and additions, and both teachers and students had concerns that the lack of alignment between the assessment and the GCSE exam led to false expectations. Overall, the pilot found some evidence of promise, but recommended significant development and further piloting before the programme would be ready for a further trial.
The EEF currently has no plans for a further trial of ‘Assess for Success’ but will continue to consider other projects which aim to improve English and Maths outcomes for students re-sitting their GCSE exams.