K-6, Primary Key Stage 1 & 2 Art Progression
Every school should know what they are teaching their pupils and this needs to be set out clearly and sequentially, so that knowledge and skills build over time to an endpoint. However, you cannot measure anyone's progress until you clearly indicate their starting point. Comparing their maths and reading age gives you an indication of their general intelligence, but not their artistic skill or talent. For that you'll need to have some form of baseline assessment that indicates prior performance in key areas of art such as drawing, imagination, and literacy levels (see my assessment page). Hopefully you will keep sketchbooks and in school data so you can transfer information year on year and save you the time and trouble of having to set baselines every year. A simple meeting, exceeding, developing grade for skills, knowledge, imagination and evaluation should suffice.
Primary Art, Craft & Design Progression
This guide is designed to ensure the broad attainment areas set out in the curriculum are taught effectively and relates progression to the UK National Curriculum, the NSEAD National Society for Education in Art and Design attainment areas of Making Skills Generating Ideas, Knowledge and Evaluation. In addition, it also covers knowledge as defined by Bloom’s four revised taxonomy knowledge domains: procedural, factual, conceptual and metacognition. This makes my sequencing of knowledge and skills as rigorous as possible.
The progression guide contains:
1. A full year by year comprehensive guide to essential art skills and knowledge from EYFS to Year 6 that builds step by step and sequentially so you can be sure your pupils are progressing accurately.
2. A capabilities guide which outlines lists of the kinds of things your students should know and do at key moments in the curriculum.
3. An AfL What Makes an Artist assessment system that allows your pupils to track their own progress in the classroom without cumbersome marking.
4. A comprehensive help guide to planning art activities that ensure progression is happening in your school.
What should I look for when I assess art?
1. Quantity and quality of participation - Have the pupils gained experience of the activities you have provided? If they have, regardless of their attitude, effort or skill they have participated. But you might want to measure how the quality of that participation. Be careful here, because some pupils may be wary or even frightened of using clay etc. and so it’s easy for some to be penalised unfairly. But clearly, if some have not made any effort at all whilst some have tried really hard then you want to recognise this. This might be assessed as an effort grade on a numerical scale from 1-10 or 1-5.
2. Progression - You need to make it clear to everyone what their basic starting point is; high ability for age, the class standard or working towards the class standard. Then when assessing progress you should be highlighting how much the person has progressed from where they began. This is fundamentally different to assessing quality of outcomes and makes for a very different art room because often, you realise that high ability students aren’t making as much progress as the less able. This is actually quite normal, because it’s harder to make big learning steps when you already possess the skills being taught, but it really helps the less able to feel more confident. This might be assessed as simply; has made outstanding progress, has made good progress, progress is in-line with class/age expectations, slower progress than expected, minimal or no progress.
3. Attainment and ability - It is important to recognise what ability level the pupils are and what they have learned and achieved. I would assess the pupils’ outcomes as one of the strands; high ability, class standard (good), working towards the class standard. There are two other strands to mention; Students with special education needs and those who are Talented. By understanding pupils individual needs you can make more informative assessment decisions based on their needs or abilities. What I would suggest is that you may wish to separate both of these extremes from any whole class assessment activities you do. It is a sensitive issue and needs careful handling but I try to take the needs and the opinions of the pupils into consideration when assessing these extremes in front of the whole class.
By summarising what learning has taken place in the course of the work and reminding pupils what they have done you are strengthening their knowledge and understanding, placing this learning more firmly in their memory and improving confidence. Ask the pupils to highlight which work they like and say why, make a fuss of pupils who overcame adversity and mention those who made good progress.
As an NSEAD registered art consultant, I offer a friendly, professional art consultancy service to schools, from early years right through to Secondary GCSE. I've worked with infant schools to improve art assessment, delivered primary school CPD on skills and progression, worked with Subject Leaders to raise attainment and done whole school, secondary art department audits including formal lesson observations and department reviews. My over-arching strategy is to support the professional development of hard working professionals with positive and constructive advice for improvement.
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