There are many products available for educators, administrators and managers that claim to be the dream data product that will revolutionise the assessment regimes within schools; helping to build data packages that really inform progress, areas of development or whether groups of pupils are progressing correctly. In these times of accountability, results and reporting, it is critical to use a package that is easy to use for staff (inputting the data), digestible for parents, and informing school managers about the progression of the students.
Of the options available, Alfie (Assessing Learning for Informed Education) is a top-notch paperless assessment tool with on-screen digitised source of QCDA questions and tests in English, maths and science, containing 8,500 questions. From this the programme produces accurate national curriculum levels and sub-levels at topic, strand and whole paper level. It is possible to personalise questions effortlessly, creating own tests to match teaching and learning sequences which support student progression.
As Alfie is based online, the marking is completed automatically, providing prompt feedback – the reports it produces on pupils are very detailed, charting performance, breaking down every question – and the time taken to answer each one – compiling a list of strengths, producing a list of next steps and giving an overall level or levels.
A one-year licence costs £295 which includes KS1 Maths, English Reading and Spelling; KS2 Maths, Mental Maths, Science, English Reading and Spelling KS3 Maths, Mental Maths, Science, English Reading; Y3-Y8 Optional Maths and Mental Maths; and SIMS-Sync Schools Data Integration. Alfie can use data found in your MIS to set-up all the user accounts automatically, including setting up pupils complete with their UPNs.
The analysis created by Alfie tests can be studied and handled in Excel as well as transferred to your SIMS Assessment Manager. Alfie produces well-focused, pin- point diagnostic comments that help pupils understand how to improve. Whilst schools have to find fresh, accurate and consistent ways of assessing pupil performance, Alfie can certainly help you achieve that and is worthy of exploration. Alfie also has digitised versions of AQA past papers and tests for those keen to extend to KS4.
So, what do schools using Alfie think?
The Deputy Head of Wilkes Green Junior School, Mangal Singh, said:
“The most valuable thing about Alfie is its ability to demonstrate instantly which areas a group or an individual pupil needs to improve in. This is such a useful tool for teachers, enabling them to plan future lessons to meet the immediate needs of the pupils. We have also been very impressed with the prompt support and advice provided by the Alfiesoft team.”
Meanwhile, the Head of Science at Lostock Hall Academy in Lancashire, Nicola Stephan, declares,
“We’re in our early days yet obviously but it has already saved us a huge amount of marking time for end-of-topic tests. The personalized targets the pupils get have been incredibly effective in getting pupils to identify weaker areas and in getting staff to set appropriate tasks to address these. I’m hugely impressed by the way it works for us, making life easier, without compromising on personalised assessment and target setting.”