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A critical investigation of the effect of thick level descriptors on progress: A case study with Year 8 students studying Buddhism

Kenichi Udagawa

PGCE Secondary – Religious Studies , 2013-2014)


Recent policy documentation has indicated that assessment in Religious Education is inadequate in
a substantial number of schools because of uncertainty about what progress looks like and an over reliance on National Curriculum (NC) levels. Given the abolition of NC Levels is imminent, the introduction of a new approach to assessment based on thick-level descriptors at a Cambridgeshire school was deemed a suitable focus for a case study. Focusing on one class of Year 8 students studying Buddhism, this study explores how use of thick-level descriptors in a system called ‘Beginner, Competent, Master’ impacts on differentiation, students’ motivation and progress. The system revolves around student agency and the idea of progression towards Mastery in a range of
RE skills – thus attempting to avoid the obsession with NC levels. Overall, it concludes by cautiously welcoming the system as overcoming various issues, but argues that it cannot replace NC levels for summative assessment.

Copyright: © 2015. This paper is copyright of the author. (Please read the Journal's copyright information page by using the menu to the left of this page.)

The full paper is available for download as a pdf file: 273-356-udagawak
Citation:.Udagawa.K, A Critical investigation of the effect of thick level descriptors on progress: A Case study with Year 8 students studying Buddhism.  Journal of Trainee Teacher Educational Research, Volume 6, pp.273-356  (Downloaded from, [date of access])