Introduction to Arbor Assessments

Arbor makes it possible for you to create and use a variety of assessment types. We know schools need to be able to see assessment data quickly and easily, so we provide some customisable assessment types you can adapt to your needs. These include summative and formative approaches to assessment to ensure you are able to capture the data you need at the right times.

We find schools prefer one of these three assessment types:

  • Formative Tracking
  • Summative Tracking
  • Formative and Summative Tracking combined

The Assessment type you are able to use will also depend on what Arbor Package you have purchased. Summative Assessments are available in the Core, Comms and Perform packages, whereas Formative Tracking is available only in Perform.


Type 1 - Summative Tracking

Use Arbor’s Summative Tracking to record assessment results at key points throughout the year to measure student's overall knowledge and progress.

You can create your own custom grade scales and grade sets to record assessments on a monthly, half-termly, termly or annual basis. You can create custom workflows around data collection cycles to notify and monitor the collection process closely.

You can also set target rules to specify the progress or attainment a student should make within a year and identify children who are not on track to achieve their end of year target. 

Take a look at this article to see what analysis you can do for Summative Tracking.


Grading scales

Within Summative tracking, you can follow one of two types of grading scale:

A flat grade scale

Using a flat grade scale, a student is classed as making the expected level of progress if they achieve the same grade (or greater) each assessment period. For example, a student in year 1 working at Developing would be expected to be working at Developing in year 2.

This scale is used for assessments spanning many years of assessments, as it provides greater granularity for tracking against age-related expectations. For example, if your year 7s to year 11s are all graded on a progressing grade scale, your year 7s will likely be all graded with a U, leaving little room for analysis.

A progress grade scale

Using a progressing grade scale, students are graded every year from the same grade set e.g. GCSE 1-9, or Y1E Y1D Y1S, Y2E Y2D Y2S etc. For example, a student in year 9 working at level 2 might be expected to be working at level 6 by Year 11.

This scale can be simpler to explain to parents as they can see what the student needs to work towards. It's used to track student's progress at key points in the academic year, analyse whether students have made a certain number of steps of progress, and easily identify students who require more support. 


Students can be marked on a progressing grade set, showing progress across multiple assessment periods and across years, within one assessment. 

Things to be aware of

  • You choose the Grade Point Scale and Grade Sets you want to use, so you'll need to decide on them before starting to set up the assessments.
  • There are no links to any curriculum statements so you will be unable to view the specific skills or areas of learning which students are struggling with or excelling in. 


Type 2 - Formative Tracking

Formative Tracking focuses on the specific skills students are achieving, marked on a continuous basis. It allows you to see the gaps in student’s understanding and where to prioritise your teaching and resources next.

You can upload a custom curriculum assessment to your site, or use one of the pre-made curriculums from NAHT Rising Stars or the DfE. You can tweak one of the freely available curriculums to make it work for your school - using an existing curriculum as a starting point is a lot easier than building your own from scratch!

Formative Tracking is also a great way of involving parents into the conversation, as curriculum statements and marks achieved can be made visible on Parent Portal. This makes it easy to see exactly what children have achieved so far and what they need to do next in order to be successful.

Take a look at these articles to see what analysis you can do for Formative Tracking.


Things to be aware of...

  • Formative Tracking is designed for in-year tracking, so cannot show progression year on year. To do this, you would need to use Formative and Summative Tracking combined.
  • Using formative tracking means that you expect students to be working within their current year group and that there is no intrinsic value in recording achievement from a previous year’s curriculum. 
  • Any students who are very far behind should be placed onto a ‘special curriculum’ as they are not working at their age-related expectation.
  • If you have a grade above 'meeting expectations', it will appear as if most of your students never reach full curriculum mastery.


Each curriculum is split into modules made up of curriculum statements. Each statement is marked with a grade on the Marking Scale, which feeds into the overall grade and measure of curriculum mastery.


Before setting up this assessment...

  • Choose which curriculum you will be assessed against - Rising Stars, the NAHT curriculum statements or your school's. (These are just a few examples.) Be sure to consider how big your curriculum is to minimise the marking burden on teachers. Alternatively, you could create your own curriculum and pick some key objectives students should be able to demonstrate.
  • Choose the marking scale and terminology you want to use eg Emerging/Developing/Secure or Working Towards/Working At/ Working Above etc.
  • Make sure you know what expectations are there for the curriculum by the end of the year?  For example, 'a student need to have achieved at least 80% of statements to be considered as having met their ARE.’


Type 3 - Formative and Summative Tracking combined

Using Curriculum and Summative Tracking combined means you can create ‘steps’ of progression over multiple years. First, you use the Curriculum Tracker to ‘benchmark’ where a student is against age-related expectations. You can then link the curriculum to a Summative Assessment to generate a suggested grade for the Summative Assessment.

This approach provides the granularity of the Curriculum Mastery (focussing at a classroom level on the individual curriculum objectives that children need to learn) while allowing you to track year on year progress.

You can easily identify students who are in need of extra support, as differences in curriculum and summative grades may highlight the need to look deeper. 


Students follow one of the curriculums linked to the summative assessment and are marked with a grade in the Marking Sale. Each Marking Scale corresponds to grade on the Summative Grade Scale and is used to generate a Suggested Mark on the Summative Grade Set. Students progress through each year's curriculum.

For example, Student A is in Year 2 and has completed 20% of the year 2 maths curriculum. Based on their curriculum marks, Arbor suggests a summative grade of Year 2 Emerging. The school then decide the target for Student A is to move from Year 2 Emerging at the start of the year to Year 2 Secure at the end of the year.

Things to be aware of...

  • We find schools mainly use a progressing grade scale for their Summative Assessments, as using a flat grade scale can make your data difficult to analyse.
  • The suggested grade provided by Arbor is based on a student’s curriculum coverage, so if the curriculum marking doesn’t reflect the ability of the student, Arbor will be unable to suggest a realistic grade.


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