Exploring Comparative Judgement for Writing

27 November 2017

Many schools in Derby will know Tammie McNamara, Deputy Head teacher of St Alban’s Catholic Primary School and SLE in Primary Assessment, because of her work as Lead Moderator for Derby City. It was clear when speaking with Tammie about her current project that her passion for assessment, or more accurately her passion for improving children’s outcomes and encouraging a love of writing, is her driving mission in looking at different and innovative ways to assess writing. St Alban’s have started to look at Comparative Judgement as a way to improve teacher assessment of writing. Here Tammie shares with us where the school are at with their journey in implementing the approach with the help of the No More Marking website platform.

We are very excited about a new initiative we are taking part in this academic year. Our school is trialling assessing writing for each year group from Year 1 to Year 6 using Comparative Judgement as an assessment and moderation tool. As human beings, we are not very good at forming ‘absolute’ judgements (Wiliam, 2014), which is why when assessing from the Teacher Assessment Frameworks for KS1 and KS2, there can be uncertainty and subjectivity with judgements for pieces of writing between teachers when using the rubric of prose descriptors. Comparative Judgement allows us to make a judgement between two pieces of writing regarding which is the better piece of writing. The use of technology when judging the writing allows an algorithm to automatically combine all the judgements and use them to rank the pieces of writing. This occurs by using the no more marking website created by Dr Chris Wheaton.
With no national framework for assessing writing in Year 1, 3, 4 and 5 we were also keen to find a more reliable, valid and consistent way of judging and measuring the standards of our writing in these year groups with other schools in our authority and nationally.

After attending various assessment conferences, reading various blogs by Daisy Christodoulou and both her books; Seven Myths about Education (2014) and Making Good Progress? (2016), we contacted Daisy via the no more marking website to come and lead some initial training for our teachers on Comparative Judgement. Daisy visited our school in November 2017 and inspired and motivated our teachers to the potential of using Comparative Judgement as an assessment tool, as well as a way of improving the teaching of writing.


So far we have taken part in the Year 3 national judging window alongside over 200 other schools nationally and we will be taking part in the Year 5 judging next week. Implementing Comparative Judgement as an assessment and moderation tool has also allowed us to explore the use of Whole Class Feedback sheets to support with finding the balance between reducing teacher workload by removing the expectation to include written comments on individual pieces of writing, whilst also maintaining high standards of feedback, learning outcomes and targeted next steps in learning. Comparative Judgement is also being used as a CPD tool for teachers by exploring the teaching of quality writing through having discussions about why we have judged certain pieces of writing better than others.
Daisy is continuing to support us in finding new ways of using Comparative Judgement as an assessment and moderation tool in other curriculum subjects, which is an ongoing project for us that we continue to be extremely excited about!


References and Further Reading Suggestions

Elliott V et al. (2016), A marked improvement? England: EEF, Oxford University.

McMahon S & Jones I (2015), A comparative judgement approach to teacher assessment. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 22(3), 368–389. https://doi.org/10.1080/0969594X.2014.978839

For a secondary perspective, take a look at the report on the implementation of Comparative Judgement as a peer-assessment tool by Notre Dame High School. An IEE Innovation Grant supported the school’s project and the project evaluation is due out this Autumn.





Posted on 27 November 2017
Posted in: Blog

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