For years I have given my students levels in my music classroom and for each musical project an assessment criteria which forms the basis of AFL in my lessons. I then use this for final assessments and to moderate work. I have always strived to keep music at the centre of this process and I am confident that in my department largely the following is happening, regardless of whether or not a number is attached to it:
- Students know how they are doing and are making progress
- Students know how to improve their musical outcome
When I add to this that my school is sticking to levels I feel the need to embrace the opportunities ahead of me, yet not throw the baby out with the bathwater now I know that levels are no more.
So what am I doing? Firstly, while I currently still report in levels I am no longer reporting in sublevels. Our assessment criteria have also been reformatted to show the expected standard and those ‘working beyond and towards it’. This has been inspired by some of the work done by the ISM and on their website. In addition I am trying to conciously use less level language and more musical modelling, in addition trying to thread the outcomes at keystage 3 towards keystage 4. I am trialling radar grids as a way of showing progress away from levels. There are definitely exciting opportunities here for us musical education practitioners to unite.
We have a generation of children on our hands who understand levels, have grown up in an eductaion system where everything has been about these numbers. We must take this chance to reinvent how we assess creativity and do it more creatively. This is not so easy when playing a past composition to a year 7 class and the first hand that goes up asks ‘what level did that get?’ To be honest if that is the first thing they respond with then this change is certainly for the better.