Disclosure: I occasionally collaborate with 4Matrix about the design of their product but have not been paid by them, or anyone else, to produce this post. All views expressed are my own.
This is an introduction to the Assessment Without Levels module of 4Matrix. It’s not an exhaustive guide, rather a first look at the structure, look and feel of the system combined with a discussion of how it could fit within a school’s assessment policy.
The system works by recording students’ progress towards mastery of specific Learning Objectives (LOs) via the steps Emerging, Developing, Secure, Mastered. Learning Objectives are grouped under the banner of a smaller number of Attainment Targets (ATs), which elaborate the key concepts, knowledge and skills that students should learn by the end of the course.
The AWL tool is structured as ‘layers’ that move from the general to specific, working left to right. In the top left hand corner is the Planning Layer, where the attainment targets are listed on a grid and key terms, concepts and activities are mapped out.
Next is the Teaching Layer, a simplified scheme of work which lists the lessons, their themes, topics, content and the LOs and ATs they are geared towards.
The Learning Layer shows individual pupils and their progress towards mastery in each LO, data which has either been entered directly or imported.
At one point my Learning Outcomes got shuffled into a funny order, but I realised that clicking on the ‘Learning Outcomes’ header sorts them alphabetically, the ‘LO’ heading sorts them numerically.
The Outcomes Layer shows pupil progress towards the ATs which are entered separately from the progression for each AT’s component LOs.
A couple of points to look out for: When you switch between layers 4Matrix doesn’t retain the subject you were looking at, you have to select it again. Also, when right clicking using the ‘Apply to All’ drop down (to assign 1 grade to all statements for a pupil or all pupils in a selected group) if you forget to select the grade you can easily wipe all previously entered grades. Saving is automatic and there isn’t an undo, although in upcoming versions an ‘are you sure you want to do this’ message will appear.
Drawbacks with the process of entering grades will, though, for most schools be moot, as they will record grades in their MIS systems and export them to 4Matrix.
The Predictions Layer is a broadsheet showing pupils’ predictions for each subject at GCSE based on the average of either their LOs or ATs
The Attainment Layer plots a trajectory for each pupil based on their AWL statements towards a GCSE outcome. The points (GCSE grade equivalence) of each of the 4 AWL grades (Emerging, Developing, Secure, Mastered) can be edited via the KS3 AWL Options tab. While it would probably take your school a bit of investigation to fine tune these values, they do offer an interesting window on future performance that’s completely decoupled from KS2. The Attainment Layer brings together KS2 and KS3 performance to make this comparison easy on a pupil by pupil basis.
It’s an open question whether the level of detail recorded in a Learning Objectives approach to AWL is compatible with teachers’ workload capacity. However, schools using this approach should definitely consider 4Matrix for the way assessments can be organised and translated into actionable information.