Understanding the Point in Time Assessment method

What is the PITA (point in time assessment) method of assessment and how do you make sure it is most effective.

A Point in Time Assessment (PITA) is a popular non-linear method of tracking attainment and progress.

In a linear model, you will expect to see pupils progress through a range of steps, usually a 6 step model, whereas in a PITA model, pupils learning is assessed against the criteria taught to date. Pupils’ achievements are compared against the expected levels of understanding and competencies relative to that ‘point in time’.

All Juniper tracking solutions allow for a Point in Time Assessment – they range in how many stages you can have, but most schools use between 3 – 6 stages and generally follow the stages below, taken straight from one of our Sonar Assessment Models.

Below, Just At, Securely At, Above

Using PITA most effectively

Point in Time Assessments work most effectively when schools have a clear sense of what they expect of their pupils and how this changes throughout the year.

Progress is measured by comparing Point in Time Assessments over time. If a pupil consistently meets expectations and continues to work at the expected standard, they are judged to be progressing at the rate their school expects. A pupil moves up a standard, suggesting that they have achieved more than expected between the two milestones; they have made better than expected progress. If they move down a standard, they have achieved less than was expected and have made less than expected progress.

Predicting attainment

Point in Time Assessments can also predict the end of the year and the end of key stage attainment. As long as expectations have been mapped out appropriately, a pupil currently meeting age-related expectations in Year 3 can be considered ‘on track’ to meet age-related expectations at the end of Key Stage 2. Of course, any such future projection assumes pupils will continue to make progress against the school’s expectations.

Point in Time Assessment models gives plenty of scope for teachers to make professional judgements about the achievement of their pupils. However, to make secure judgements, teachers should understand the program of study and have a clear sense of what they expect of their pupils throughout the year. Often this approach is guided by how well a pupil has understood the skills taught so far, but may also be informed by test performance and the teacher’s wider understanding of their pupils: Is their current attainment sustainable? Do they retain skills well? Are they motivated? Have they had additional support? Do they readily transfer what they’ve learnt to tests?

Some schools wish to give additional guidance to teachers in making summative judgements which can help to create a consistent approach towards assessment. This can be done qualitatively by describing what a pupil needs to be demonstrating to be working at each standard, or in a more statistical way, using the percentage of curriculum objectives that are being understood.

What about SEN pupils?

If you are wondering how this would work for your SEN pupils who are perhaps working a few years behind, then have a quick read of this article from 2018: One size fits all? It doesn’t have to.

You might also find our blog ‘What are statutory assessments‘ helpful.