Literacy is both an academic and a life skill. The main elements of literacy are: reading, writing and oracy (speaking and listening). In order to encourage our pupils to achieve in literacy we deliver a curriculum which is bespoke to the individual needs, abilities and potential of all our students.
In order to ensure that we have an accurate picture of each child's needs, we use the following summative assessments:
We use individual profiles of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework to inform planning.
Formative assessment occurs through the year as part of the Connecting steps package. It consists of Routes to progression (Pre Progression1-3) and Pre Progression steps 4 through to Progression step 3. The majority of our learners are within Pre progression step 4-6 Progression step 1 and a minority of learners at Progression step 2. It assesses Literacy, Numeracy and health and Wellbeing in accordance with the New Curriculum for Wales.
Salford Reading Test
Salford Comprehension Test
BPVS - British Pictorial Vocabulary scale
Connecting steps 3-16 (Literacy, numeracy and Health and wellbeing overing 24 strands)
Steps4 Life at Post 16 (Literacy, numeracy, PSHE, Digital, Life skills including independence, food, travel and self care)
“Assessment should focus on identifying each individual learner’s strengths, achievements, areas for improvement and, if relevant, any barriers to learning. This understanding should be used by the practitioner, in discussion with the learner, to ascertain the next steps required to move learning forward, including any additional challenge and support required.
This should be achieved by embedding assessment into day-to-day practice in a way that engages the learner and makes it indistinguishable from learning. This allows the practitioner to respond to the individual needs of the full range of learners within their classroom on an ongoing basis.” Supporting Learner Progression: Assessment Guidance
The main focus of our assessment is ongoing assessment. Important points of assessment:
where learners are in their learning
where they need to go in their learning
what needs to be done for them to get there, taking account of any barriers to their learning.
At Ysgol Ty Coch we believe that a curriculum can only be truly effective if it is not only bespoke, but also inclusive for all pupils. With this in mind we have been carrying out our own action research into the reading abilities of pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder, with a particular focus on nonverbal pupils.
Delivering reading tests to nonverbal or minimally verbal pupils can be a challenge, as the majority of reading tests currently available are reliant on a person's ability to vocalise as they read. Seventy schools took part in a survey which we had published (Arnold and Reed 2016) in the British Journal of Special Education. Of those schools who took part, none felt happy with the reading assessments available for nonverbal pupils with 100% agreeing that these tests do not provide an accurate ability of reading ability for these students. A result of this discontent was that 30/70 schools were not using any form of summative assessment with their nonverbal students.
With this in mind, we designed a novel digital form of reading test comparable to the Salford Reading Test, which does not rely on a student's ability to verbalise. Results showed that some of our nonverbal students with ASD are also some of our best readers! Having this information has enabled us to adapt the curriculum for these students in such a way as to further foster progress and enhance their enjoyment of reading.
Arnold, S. & Reed, P., 2016. Reading assessments for students with ASD: a survey of summative reading assessments used in special educational schools in the UK. British Journal of Special Education, 43(2), pp.122–141. Available at: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/1467-8578.12127.