Diary of an NQT: Assessment

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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The end of his first assessment cycle is looming for our NQT diarist, and with it comes a sharp increase in workload and pressure…

I have reached the end of my first assessment cycle and my classes are working hard to prepare for their end of unit tests.

As I detailed last week, my set 5 geography class has completed their assessments, and I was very pleased with the outcome. My history and English classes are all sitting their tests this week or next.

It is a stressful time for both students and staff as all assessments must be completed by a specific date, which adds to the pressure in the classroom.

The relevant curriculum content has to have been taught prior to the assessments being undertaken; strategic time management is essential to ensure that all tests are completed and marked within the assessment window.

As an NQT, this is my first experience of being entirely accountable for the progress of my students. I am hopeful that their assessment results will reflect the hard work that they have put in. The assessment cycle also means that my marking load has increased sharply, and I will have to set aside time during the next couple of weekends to ensure that I stay on top of my workload.

Each of my English classes will have undertaken two tests by the end of the week, one assessing their writing skills, the other their reading ability. The department has provided me with specially designed preparation lessons, which allow the students to become acquainted with the test format and practise their skills prior to tackling the assessments.

The set 5 class of year 9 boys that I teach struggled with the preparation lesson for their writing assessment, some of them displaying a defeatist attitude.

One boy said: “I can’t do it sir, I fail at everything.” I refused to accept this, reiterating my belief in their ability and reminding them of the good work they had produced during our lessons.

Their fears were unfounded. When the assessment lesson came, the boys knuckled down and were able to produce good work. They were tasked with writing a short story about an animal that saves a human’s life – some of the stories were funny while some were surreally imaginative.

I marked these stories immediately in order to provide the boys with feedback during the next lesson. I am thrilled to report that all but one of the students in the class either met or exceeded their target grade. We have now completed the preparation lesson for their reading assessment, and the boys are feeling much more confident due to their success in the writing paper. This shows the importance of positive reinforcement when preparing students for assessment; they have to believe that they can succeed in order to reach their potential.

My year 11 history students will be sitting their mock exam papers next week. Not having taught them in year 10, I did not deliver the content which will form the basis of the exam. However, I have been doing revision classes with them during curriculum time and feel confident that they have the knowledge and skills to succeed. It will be invaluable for me to mark these papers as it will highlight both their strengths and weaknesses, giving me a clear idea of which areas I need to focus on in the coming months.

Just as my students have been nervous about sitting the exams, I have felt additional pressure to ensure that they are as prepared as possible.

However, seeing the tangible progress my students have made makes the hard work worthwhile. I am finding the assessment period to be exhausting, but it is also very professionally satisfying.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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