When you are dealing with behaviours, it is challenging to track success and achievement. Imagine if there was a way to measure outcomes.

A quarter of the team at Entelechy has worked in education: in the classroom, as assessors and within examination boards, and the three words: outcomes, progression, and accountability send them into a cold sweat. We only need to add Ofsted into the conversation, and they grow pale and breathless.

We exaggerate, but only a little.

Education in an accountability model means the constant drive for evidence of success. Proving success becomes almost more important than being successful. Looking to outcomes and ensuring the progression of all learners, especially those tricky ones that insist on falling behind, is a constant challenge.

Any new model of learning needs to accept this reality for training providers. There needs to be a means of assessing the outcomes of the education being undertaken.

Improving outcomes with assessment

At Entelechy, we embraced this challenge for accountability. Yet, we wanted to do more than just provide a route to assessment to provide data for Ofsted inspections and funding applications. We wanted the assessment model to enhance the learning experience and drive motivation for apprentices.

A lot of tools focused on the development of behaviours allow the user to self-report progress. Completion of a set number of hours on the platform automatically releases a certificate that attests to learning completed. However, as all educationalists know, mere exposure to content and tasks does not necessarily equate to learning.

Human beings learn best when they are held to account. Some higher beings can hold themselves to account, while mortals need external verification to motivate us to complete the learning. We also love receiving rewards that someone else has said we deserve. While we may grow up, we still yearn for the gold star at the end of our work.

Assessment is tricky and can be a means to an end or a tool for learning. Making sure you assess the right thing can also improve outcomes.

For too long, assessment has wagged the tail of practice in education. We teach what is tested to ensure we get the outcomes we need.

How about assessing what is learnt.

Think about it for a moment: if apprentices demonstrate the right learning behaviours that we all accept as outstanding practice, they will learn something. Therefore, if we can see these learning behaviours in the output produced by the apprentice, we should credit them for having made progress. We also credit what is vital to continuous improvement; we value ongoing commitment to learning.

How does this work?

The learner commits to improving a part of their character. They want to be kind, for instance. They evaluate where they are now and where they would like to be in the future. Next, the learner commits to exploring content and then acting on the lessons they have learnt. They reflect in a journal on what worked, what didn’t, and why and then correct their behaviour based on this journey.

The learner commits to doing this several times, building each time on what was learnt before. Then, there is the assessment. A single page reflection on the learning journey they have undertaken, where some sort of transformation has taken place.

Two assessors need to agree to the apprentice’s assertion that they have shown the right learning behaviours. Then, these assessors are put through a quality assurance process. With a great deal of rigour, the learner is awarded a badge for developing this character quality.

And data is created to evidence progress in the behaviour standard.

Moving to AfL

Assessment for Learning (AfL) has been a strategy in education for a decade or more. Essentially, formative and summative assessment can support learners’ progression, as there is a focus on what needs to still be learned. It focuses the attention of the teacher and learner on what is missing and needs addressing for success.

Entelechy has taken AfL a stage further, moving it away from a deficit model, suggesting assessing the learning behaviours helps to encourage the apprentice to become a self-directed and lifelong learner.

Oh, and it just so happens the trainer has a means of collecting progression data to aid with Ofsted inspections and funding applications.