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New KS4 Resources: Part 1

Introduction to the new SIMS KS4 Resources In the Spring 2016 release of SIMS, secondary schools will get access to a powerful set of new KS4 resources. The resources are in three parts: Templates and marksheets to calculate A8/P8 and analyse other useful metrics like 5+ A*-C EM a set of Discover graphs a SIMS report that creates a top-level Excel summary spreadsheet This isn’t a KS4 system that could immediately replace your existing system...

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4 Ways to Set a Baseline in Assessment Without Levels

Why Summative Baselines Matter When I go into primary schools to create an assessment system one of the main discussion areas is usually progress: how to measure it and, crucially, what baseline to measure it from. With the old sub levels, the starting point for measuring progress during the current academic year was almost always the sub level the pupil achieved at the end of the previous year. But because the new curriculum is based on...

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Measuring progress in primary school. Do points mean prizes?

When I designed the new School Analytics system I was aware that measuring progress in primary schools was very important to many senior managers. Even in the brave new world of assessment without levels, teachers were telling me that they still needed a measure of progress for the termly (or half termly) summative assessments. So the new system assigns a value to each grade. When the system calculates progress it compares the baseline grade with the most...

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9 Reasons Why SIMS is Ready for Assessment Without Levels

The last 12 months has seen a huge shift in the way schools use their assessment systems and for most of this time it’s fair to say that SIMS has been catching up with the latest assessment thinking. November 2015 will see the release of the final key elements of Capita’s assessment without levels strategy. This is the first of a two-part article on how the most recent improvements can help your school. In this...

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Assessment Without Levels Analysis in SIMS

In the spring Capita released their new programme of study marksheets as their ‘assessment without levels’ solution. In the summer release they included a new set of analysis and reporting routines. Schools who have already adopted the new marksheets, or who are considering their options over the summer term will want to explore these analysis routines closely. Here are some screenshots. Remember, if you are a primary school using SIMS programme of study marksheets, these...

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Improvements to Programme of Study Marksheets for Autumn 2015

I’ve been hearing good things about the improvements to the Programme of Study (PoS) marksheets in SIMS. As I understand it, the autumn release will include: Hide columns not set as ‘school expectations’ For many schools the sheer number of statements in the PoS marksheets has been an issue. We’ve always been able to set certain NC statements as ‘school expectations’ but the ability to hide the other columns will make data entry much easier...

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New SIMS KS4 Assessment Resources for Secondary Schools

Good new for secondary schools as Capita announce a set of pre-programmed resources for KS4. This is from Capita: From Autumn 2015 SIMS assessment are supporting schools with new resources for internal assessment analysis at KS4 using both old and new style GCSE grades. What new resources will be available? Pre-defined templates and reports will be made available to all secondary schools. These will allow for the instant analysis of internal assessment results for individuals,...

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SIMS Assessment Manager Training Online

Over the years I’ve frequently been asked to provide some kind of on-line SIMS assessment manager training. There seems to be a real need for on-line training for schools where the expense of training, plus the need to provide cover for staff, means that many staff just can’t access traditional courses. Increasingly too, international schools need a SIMS training option. I’m also seeing more and more private individuals approaching me to provide SIMS training, as...

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KS3 ‘Programme of Study’ Marksheets Now Available

Capita have released a patch that enables the new KS3 Assessment resources – good news for secondary schools who want to test drive the new ‘programme of study’ marksheets before September.  If you don’t apply the patch you’ll need to wait till the Autumn release to get the new style marksheets. Here’s the announcement from Capita: KS3 Programme of Study Patch In response to customer requests, a database patch has been produced for secondary schools...

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Progress 8 Breakdowns Now Available

Last week the DfE release a breakdown of the seperate parts of progress 8. For the first time we have a breakdown that maps the KS2 fine decimal level to the English, Maths, Ebacc, Open and non-GCSE slots. Thanks to Mark Maher at Blacon High for bringing it to my attention!

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Extending SIMS Programme of Study Marksheets: Summative Assessment

Capita recently released a their new ‘programme of study marksheets‘. They allow teachers to record a grade against each and every statement in the entire national curriculum. They work well, but there’s no option to give an ‘overall’ summative assessment for a subject. Here’s a solution I worked out for a school that wanted a closer link between formative assessments and the overall strand and summative subject assessments. Why Summative Assessment Still Matters To explain,...

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SIMS and Chris Quigley Assessment

Several people have asked about SIMS and Chris Quigley assessment milestones. Well, here’s a system I developed for a school last week. As with most systems, the school wanted a few tweeks and changes to fit in with it’s existing system, but the flexibility of SIMS means that any changes are quick to make. Here’s a demo video to show you what it looks like: I’ve developed systems based on the popular Chris Quigley method...

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SIMS Programme of Study Course: use the new Assessment without Levels marksheets

I was busy over Easter creating this SIMS Programme of Study Course to showcase how schools can use the new ‘programme of study’ marksheets. You can access the course from this website: http://schoolanalytics.usefedora.com (For a small number of schools your web filter might block access – you should be able to get the site unblocked via your usual tech support team)  

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Attainment 8 Calculations in SIMS now ‘Visible’ in School Report

The Capita SIMS School Report, first released back in the Autumn Term of 2014 was largely well received but the way it calculated attainment and progress 8 statistics was criticised because a) the methodology used by the calculations was not clear and b) it didn’t use true KS1 decimalised sub levels. The Spring 2015 release at least mitigates the first of these concerns, even though it highlights the second. As soon as your school updates...

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The new SIMS ‘assessment without levels’ solution is available for schools

At the end of  March 2015, Capita SIMS released their new ‘programme of study’ marksheets – a formative assessment system that links into SIMS assessment manager. Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing new articles to suggest ways that you can amend and adapt the core system to suit your school. Your school should be getting the update within the next few weeks (you’ll need version 7.162 – also known as the ‘spring 2015...

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Formative Assessment using SIMS

Why everything I thought I knew about assessment was wrong. Perhaps without noticing, the last few months have seen a massive shift in the assessment paradigm that held sway in most schools until the introduction of the new curriculum in 2014. With the new curriculum came the removal of the previous levels-based system. It has been replaced with nothing and schools are free to develop their own systems. I now realise that I was addicted to...

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Beta Testing SIMS Marksheets for the new National Curriculum

In the spring 2015 release of SIMS schools will have access to Capita’s new marksheets designed to allow schools to record assessment against the new national curriculum 2014. It’s the biggest new development in SIMS for several years as it constitutes their first attempt at adapting SIMS for formative assessment. Tip: If you’re a non-teacher and not familiar with the new national curriculum 2014 here’s a link to the curriculum documentation – now’s a good time...

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SIMS in the MS Azure ‘Cloud’

When I visit schools I’m often frustrated that teachers and staff, fresh and keen to use the new assessment resources that we create, are held back by a lack of access to SIMS. It’s many years since the toughest technical obstacles to SIMS access were ironed out but many schools and local support units are still slow to remove the barriers for everyone who needs it. So I was interested when, At BETT 2015, Capita SIMS announced a new partnership with Microsoft to...

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The New SIMS Teacher App

Last week was BETT week – the annual education technology exhibition in London’s ExCeL. It gives education suppliers a global stage on which to launch their new products.  I visited on Thursday and Friday with a special interest in the new develops that Capita SIMS were showcasing. The New Teacher App for SIMS Capita’s main product launch at the show was their new SIMS Teacher App – an iPad app that links back to the...

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A Peek at the New Marksheets for 2015

This article first appeared in my newsletter back in December 2014. You can subscribe to the next edition here. The strength of assessment manager has always been in recording summative (end of term, end of year, end of key stage) assessments. Where it has been less strong is in recording formative assessments, of the type that teachers might do on a more regular basis to assess pupil knowledge against smaller parts of the national curriculum....

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Another Easy Way to Calculate Levels of Progress in SIMS

My previous blog article on how to calculate levels of progress using SIMS is one of the most visited pages on this entire site, so it’s clearly a very common task for data managers in secondary schools. As with many SIMS tasks, there is more than one way to accomplish the same task so I thought I would share an alternative technique. Check your KS2 and KS4 Data Identify the aspect and result set combination...

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Assessment Without Levels: Lessons from Last Term

This article was first published in December in my termly SIMS assessment newsletter which you can sign up for here. What Is Everybody Else Doing? I’ve visited lots of schools since September and almost every school has asked me this question quite early on during our meetings. Assessment without levels means that most school are looking for a sense of direction from other schools, which is understandable. There’s also an assumption that other schools must...

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First Look at the New SIMS ‘School Report’

Update: In the original version of this post I said that secondary schools would have to wait until spring 2014 for their version. I was wrong! Secondary schools can print a version of the school report that includes all the metric for 5+A*-C EM, P8 and A8 measures. One feature that I’ve been asked about many times by schools is a one-click analysis report that lists all the metrics used by RAISE online. Until now,...

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SIMS and the Trinity Mastery Pathway

For many secondary schools the most pressing issues currently are the introduction of new GCSE grade format and the new Performance 8 measure of school performance. I’ve blogged about using SIMS to record Performance 8 and new GCSE grades previously. Suprisingly, relatively few secondary schools have made any move to replace levels at KS3. This was re-enforced by a recent poll of primary and secondary schools from Capita SIMS suggesting that 28% of schools had made...

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Assessment Without Levels: What I Learned This Term

I’ve spent the majority of this academic year helping primary and secondary schools design their new assessment systems. Needless to say, the removal of levels has left most school unsure of how best to replace the previous flawed but very well understood system. After working with 15 and more schools since the end of July, I want to summarize the key issues for most schools: SIMS is very good at summative assessment. This shouldn’t really be a...

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SIMS and the Michael Tidd ‘Key Objectives’ system for KS1 and KS2

As readers of my other blog (assessmentwithoutlevels.com) will be aware, I’m working with an increasing number of schools to create assessment systems that don’t rely on levels and sublevels. Here’s the latest in a set of small demo systems that exist as a sort of ‘proof of concept’ for the various new pupil tracking systems which are being developed by schools, LAs and consultancies to respond to the demains of the new primary curriculum 2014. This time...

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Creating an Assessment System for Primary Schools

I was recently asked to provide some design considerations for a primary who are just starting to use SIMS assessment manager for their assessment data tracking. Here are the questions I usually ask primary schools who are creating an assessment system for the first time. Before we start, I’m often asked if Capita provide an assessment system that ‘just works’ and the answer is that yes, Capita have provided a standard assessment system that does work for...

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Using SIMS to Convert to New GCSE Grades 1-8

Over the summer months I’m sure many SIMS Assessment Manager users in secondary schools will be grappling with the new GCSE grades and also with the new Progress 8 measure. The immediate problem for many schools will be ‘how do we move from the old A*-G grades to the new GCSE grades 1-8. Luckily SIMS Assessment Manager provides us with the flexibility and configurability to cope. I’ve blogged previously about using grade sets to convert grades...

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Assessment Without Levels – A Guide for SIMS Staff

With the start of the new primary curriculum just round the corner many schools are holding off making major changes to their assessment systems, preferring instead to maintain their current system based on familiar national curriculum levels. Nevertheless, schools must eventually embrace the new freedoms provided by assessment without levels, so with primary schools having finished KS2 SATS, this seemed like a good time to have a look at what a typical primary school assessment system might...

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Attainment 8 Estimates Are Now Available (But Beware!)

The Dfe have released the ‘missing link’ for calculating school Progress 8: the table that maps each possible KS2 decimal fine grade score to the 2013 attainment 8 estimates. As I mentioned in previous posts, ASCL and FFT recommend that schools only use this table with extreme caution. The estimates presented in this table are based on the results that schools achieved before the rules surrounding Performance 8 calculations were understood. Now that schools understand the measure...

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Progress 8 Update (with thanks to ASCL and FFT)

In June 2014 I attended a Progress 8 update hosted by Duncan Baldwin of ASCL and Mike Treadaway from the FFT. This is my précis of their presentation. It is intended for users of SIMS Assessment Manager who need to understand the principles behind the new measure. I’m not a curriculum expert, or even a teacher. Any errors are my own, with apologies to Mike and Duncan. Here are some of the key points from the session: Progress 8 Update...

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Attainment 8: Calculating the New Measure

Back in October 2013 (pdf), updated in January 2014 (pdf) and again in March 2014 (pdf), the government published the details for the new Attainment 8 measure. Although we still don’t know exactly how the related Performance 8 measure will be calculated, we do know that it will be based on difference between your school’s Attainment 8 and the national average Attainment 8 measure. Reading the DfE’s documents above makes the calculation sound complex and confusing, but it...

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Recent Trends in Target Setting at KS2

Over the last term I’ve seen a important change in the way many schools measure progress, perhaps as a result of the new emphasis from OFSTED. Most schools measure progress since the previous key stage. For example senior managers in many schools now expect their pupils to make at least 12 points of progress between KS1 and KS2. We typically set targets for each year (and frequently for each term) based on the pupils’ KS1...

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An Easy Way to Calculate a Pupil’s Levels of Progress from KS2 to KS4 with SIMS

With OFSTED now focusing on the progress pupils make between KS2 and KS4 it’s more important than ever that schools have a very clear idea exactly how much progress both individual pupils and the various groups within school are making. Currently, Ofsted are using levels of progress from KS2 to KS4 as the main metric for judging the progress made by secondary school pupils. Over the last 12 months I’ve been in several secondary schools where...

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Are You Addicted to Paper? 4 Reasons to Ditch Paper-Based Assessment Systems

According to a recent survey conducted by Capita SIMS, almost a third of schools have been unable to provide an Ofsted inspector with specific pupil data. Many schools are still using paper-based methods to track the progress of individuals or groups of students despite changes to the Ofsted inspection which requires schools to be ‘data savvy’. 20 per cent of respondents admitted to analysing pupil achievement on paper 18 per cent stated that paper was...

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How to Create a KS2 to KS4 Transition Matrix (as per RAISEonline)

Earlier this week I was asked by a school if SIMS could create a transition matrices to show expected progress between KS2 and KS4. A lot of secondary schools have asked about this, which is also referred to as ‘three levels progress’. Here’s the video demonstration I created: Notes: 1. The final tracking grid created in the demo can be refined by adding colours (red for pupils not making expectations, green for pupil who are...

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KS4 2015 Attainment 8 estimates now available

The DfE’s table checking website has updated their Attainment 8 estimate breakdowns for each ‘slot’. Here’s a copy of the new PDF for bedtime reading: The usual warnings about using these figures to predict your school’s final P8 score: The dataset behind these estimates isn’t the same as the dataset that will be used to calculate your final P8 – this data comes from pupil results in 2015. Use these estimates to set estimated 1-9 grades...