Primaries: Introduction to Arbor Assessments

We know schools need to be able to see assessment data quickly and easily, so there are a number of assessment types available to set up on Arbor depending on 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.

The assessment types you can use depend on the Arbor Package you’ve purchased. Summative, Ad Hoc and DfE assessments are available in Core, Comms and Perform; Formative Tracking is available only in Perform.

To see more information about our assessment types and the names for different areas, please see: Glossary of key terminology for Assessments

Why use Arbor to manage assessments?

Arbor Assessments for Primary Schools is more than a tracker it's an integral part of your MIS. Create, enter, track and analyse formative, summative, ad hoc and statutory assessments, all in one system.

Here are some of the benefits of managing your assessments in Arbor:

  • Understand your data using familiar Arbor tools (seven built-in analytics screens as well as custom reports)
  • Take action straight from your Assessment data - add pupils to interventions, send a message home, flag to another staff member and more
  • Keep parents in the loop on pupil progress through the Parent Portal and the Arbor App
  • Cut down on assessment admin with straightforward marksheets, automatic report cards and automatic reminders for data collection 

The best thing is, you don’t have to be an expert to set up your assessments in Arbor. Use our handy guide below to choose a ready-to-go assessment approach, and get going straight away.  



What are the different assessment types?

Assessment frameworks

These are the assessment frameworks available to you:

  • Formative Tracking - record student's curriculum mastery on an ongoing basis
  • Summative Tracking - record assessment results at key points throughout the year
  • Formative and Summative Tracking combined - track both
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.

Ccreate your own custom grade scales and grade sets (choose these when setting up the assessment) to record assessments on a monthly, half-termly, termly or annual basis, or use our ready-to-go summative assessments for Reading, Writing and Maths. 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. 

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 1s to year 6s are all graded on a progressing grade scale, your year 1s will likely be all graded with the lowest grade, leaving little room for analysis.

A rising grade scale

Using a progressing grade scale, students are graded every year from the same grade set e.g. Y1E Y1D Y1S, Y2E Y2D Y2S etc. For example, a student in year 1 working at Y1D would be expected to be working at Y2E by the start of year 2.

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. 


An example of a rising grade scale, available as part of our ready-to-go assessments.

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.

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 an 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.


Other assessment types

There are also additional assessment types available:

  • Ad Hoc - assess things normally not collected in standardised tests such as attitude to learning, or for extra non-academic assessments you would like to record.
  • DfE - Record and submit results for the end of key stage and phonics tests
Ad Hoc assessments

Ad hoc assessments can be used to assess things normally not collected in summative tests, or for extra non-academic assessments you would like to record. They can be recorded at one point in the year or can be recorded regularly to accompany a grade achieved in a summative assessment by linking the ad hoc to the summative assessment marksheet. You can choose to assess all your students for all subjects, or only assess a specific subject or key stage.

There are two types of Ad Hoc assessments:

  • A stand-alone assessment - an assessment not linked to a particular subject or class, such as swimming distances. The assessment won't appear in marksheets and has its own separate area where marks can be input.
  • A linked Ad-hoc assessment - an assessment to support monitoring of students alongside their subject grades, such as an Attitude to Learning assessment. The ad hoc can be linked to particular courses and appear on the marksheet alongside their summative assessments.


DfE assessments

We developed a specialised area where you can input and analyse your DfE Assessment data, which is a statutory requirement for schools in England.

See how to add assessments, input marks and download the data to send off here.




How do we set up assessments in Arbor?

Ready-to-go summative assessments for Primaries

We’ve created two ready-to-go assessment approaches for reading, writing and maths assessments. Use our handy quiz to pick the approach that’s right for you, and save time on setup with our step-by-step guidance.

Setting up your own assessments

If you've decided you want to create your own bespoke assessments, you can create your very own assessment framework in Arbor. Our expert consultants can work with you to help you tailor Arbor to suit your approach - contact your Account Manager for further details.

Click the links below for helpful articles on how to set up each type of assessment:

Step 1 - Define your Assessment Framework

The Assessment Framework includes all the supporting information that makes up an assessment, such as the grades that are used or the name of the assessment. You can manage grade point scales and grade sets, assessments that can be added to the Annual Policy and the marksheet settings such as which columns should be shown.

As Assessment Frameworks are typically only created once and last for a number of academic years (grade sets and the course name rarely change), this part of the assessments is separated out for a simpler yearly setup process.

Go to Students > Assessments > Assessment Framework > Assessment Catalogue to see all the assessments available at your school to run, and add new assessments.


Step 2 - Check your assessable courses

Once you have defined your Assessment Framework, you'll need to make sure you will be able toassess all the courses that should be assessed from Students > Assessments > Annual Policy > Assessable Courses.


Step 3 - Add assessments to your Annual Policy

The Annual Policy includes all aspects of assessments that are specific to an academic year, such as which assessments students are taking and Data Collection dates. In this section, you will also be able to manage your assessment periods, assessable courses, curriculum expectations, and schoolwide targets for the year. You'll need to add assessments to your Annual Policy every year to select which of your assessments you'll be using.

Go to Students > Assessments > Annual Policy > Manage Assessments to add your assessments.




Once your assessments have been set up, you'll need to create 'flightpaths' for students by setting targets.

Summative tracking

To set targets:

  • You can manually set targets from the Baselines & Targets page by adding them or importing them.
  • You can also set up Attainment or Progress Target rules to automatically set targets for groups of students within an assessment so that these don’t have to be set manually.

You can see how to add these here: Adding and locking Baselines and Targets


You can edit your Target Judgement rules to colour code your mark sheets depending on how you students are doing in their assessments relative to their targets.


Formative tracking

For your curriculum assessments, you can set formative assessment curriculum expectations in Curriculum Expectations.



If you use summative and formative assessments, see below for how to input your marks and analyse them. To save time, if you use both together you can use curriculum assessments to suggest summative assessment grades - see how this works here

Summative tracking

The marksheets are accessible in different ways by different people:

Once your marks have been put in, view analysis for Summative, Ad Hoc and 3rd party Standardised Assessments (such as Hodder) in the Analysis section.  


Formative Tracking

Enter marks against the curriculum and statements you've set up from Students > Assessments > Formative Tracking > Mark Entry.



Once you've put some marks in, you can view analysis and track your student's progress through the curriculum using the curriculum analysis pages.


Was this article helpful?
1 out of 3 found this helpful
I'm still stuck!



Article is closed for comments.