KS3 Computing Assessment Framework

Since the disapplication of the ICT programme of study a couple of years ago, ‘KS3 assessment criteria’ or a variation thereof has been one of the most frequent search terms that lands people on my blog.  Whilst I tweaked and remixed the ICT criteria in 2012, a new program of study (and for a lot of us a brand new subject) has resulted in the need for a new assessment framework.  Here’s how my department and I have been going about it.

Start Points

Our three main touchstones for the process were as follows:

1. The new KS3 programme of study (and also the KS1/2 POS to see what we were picking up from primaries).

2. This rather superb Guide to Computing in the Secondary Curriculum from Computing at School (CAS).  Again, there is a primary version that I urge you to read.

3. Miles Berry‘s (yes, him again!) assessment framework available on the CAS resources hub.

If you’re getting the feeling that CAS is a valuable and knowledgable community and resource centre, then you’d be right!


My school will continue to use levels for 2014/15, so we used the traditional numbers, but any nomenclature would do just fine, white belt > yellow belt, stone age > bronze age (OK, maybe not that one) etc etc.

There were two key tenets for the process, they were:

There should be as much consistency across one level as possible – all the level 5 descriptors should involve a roughly similar complexity of thinking.

There should be a clear progression ladder in each topic – steps between levels should represent an increase in the complexity of thinking/comprehension but without enormous leaps in the complexity of what we are asking students to do/understand.


Rather than take Miles’ framework and implement it unedited, we felt that it was important for the whole department to have a say in the scaling process.  To do this, we used an afternoon of departmental INSET time on a physical cut & paste exercise, where we literally cut all the statements up, clustered  them into rough topics and then sorted them into order.  The strands we used were Digital Literacy, Computer Science, and ICT.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 20.05.48

To help us, we used Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, the SOLO taxonomy framework and good old fashioned professional argument.

Whilst we tried to standardise key words across levels, sometimes we agreed that understanding one concept was more complex than understanding another and so one was (for example) a six whilst the other was a five.

This sorting and arguing really helped us to clarify our understanding of the descriptors. In some cases we adapted, combined or re-wrote them to fit the two main criteria of our rationale. As a result, we now feel that we have a robust tool to help us plan individual units, feed back to pupils and help them progress toward the (very ambitious) statements outlined in the programme of study.  All staff have more of a shared understanding of the criteria and ownership of the framework.

Cut & Paste

The result

If you’ve skipped the earlier paragraphs, or even if you haven’t, please bear in mind that this is not a finished product.  Just like with my resources, I would strongly recommend that you examine, question, adapt and tweak for your own school. The process of creation of this V 1.0 has been just as valuable as the outcome.

For planning purposes, I’ve mapped the descriptors to various topics in this Google Spreadsheet. The letters are so that we can keep track of which descriptors we are marking against and update each pupil’s KS3 assessment overview document (which hasn’t been produced yet, but will be in a simpler format.

To access the document in Google Drive (it displays much better there) here’s the link.

I’m absolutely sure that this framework will adapt as we get to grips with the new curriculum in the classroom, but your feedback on V1 would be more than welcome.  Please comment with your views.


6 thoughts on “KS3 Computing Assessment Framework

  1. Mr Colley, there is some repetition in your excellent framework; your have defined Algorithms twice and thus many of the outcomes are duplicated. Can I suggest an Operating Systems column in place – I may even be able to suggest a couple of outcomes…

    I’m currently working on creating a tracker and outcome-lesson map based upon your framework. I’ll share it once it’s at a v1.0 state.

    Thanks for your hard work and sharing ethos.

    Ruari Mears
    Clevedon School

    • Hi Ruari,

      I think I understand your point, please correct me if I don’t, but the reason that algorithms appear twice is this:

      One strand deals with the creation of algorithms (in visual and textual languages).
      A second strand deals with the appreciation and understanding of algorithms as they are used in the real world (sorts, searches etc). This strand requires learners to evaluate different methods of problem solving (insertion vs bubble sort for example) and recommend the most suitable for a given problem.

      I see your point about operating systems, and I think there is far too much in the curriculum to fit into the usual 1hr per week. There are certainly arguments to be had about the merits of including lots of different topics. We certainly had some during the process of coming up with the framework. I’d be really interested to see your tracker. Please share version 1.0 when it’s ready.


  2. Hi Andy,

    Do you have a similar framework for life after levels? I’d be interested to learn which approach you’ve taken.


    • Hi Richard,
      Others at my school developed our framework and I don’t have their permission to share it, which is why I haven’t. However, this framework was designed knowing that we would have to transition to life after levels, so the ethos of trying to achieve consistency of complexity across all strands of each level has helped us transfer it across.

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