Skip to content ↓

Riverside Progress Scale

The Riverside Progress Scale enables us to more robustly assess and view progress, by examining the development of skills by focusing on four aspects of skill acquisition on a four-point scale. The four aspects are: independence, fluency, maintenance and generalisation.

See the below example of the Riverside Progress Scale:

The Riverside Progress Scale enables us to:

  • Use a common vocabulary for observation and recording;
  • Provide a framework for recording progress against skills which are not easily being broken down into smaller and smaller steps;
  • Provide a framework for recognising progress where the same skills are being practised and refined over time;
  • Provide a framework for evaluating qualitative differences in performance as well as quantitative differences;
  • Celebrate the various strengths and needs which our pupils have in different aspects of skill development, for example, a pupil’s ability to maintain skills in relation to their ability to refine them or to work without support.

The four aspects which are taken to characterise skill development are not hierarchical but may develop concurrently, namely:

  • Independence – pupils progress from being wholly dependent on support towards being completely independent of support
  • Fluency - performance progresses from being hesitant and approximate towards being smooth, swift and accurate
  • Maintenance - performance progresses from being inconsistent towards being consistent and reliable
  • Generalisation - progress is from practising a skill in a single context towards practising it across a range of settings with different people and materials.

Definition of Terms:

Independence is about increasing independence.

There is progression from being able to perform a task only with maximum support to being able to complete the task independently. Types of support may include:

  • Physical help
  • Spoken help
  • Gestural help

Fluency is about combining speed and accuracy.

For example:

  • Hitting a switch with increasing speed and/or accuracy
  • Signing with greater accuracy and fluency
  • Speaking – producing speech sounds with increasing clarity
  • Writing – forming shapes with increasing control

Maintenance is about becoming more consistent over time.

For example: An isolated response or action is repeated and repetitions become more consistent and reliable.

Generalisation is about performing in different settings with different people.

Skills which have been learnt in one context are applied in an increasing range of contexts.

For example:

  • Using a communication aid to ask for a drink in a café
  • Approaching staff to ask for assistance in the local college

These four aspects provide a common language with which to frame and articulate judgements, since they offer both a framework for assessing pupil progress and a set of reminders for teachers. For example, independence prompts the teacher to ask, ‘am I stepping back enough or am I providing too much support here?’. Fluency asks, ‘am I ensuring that this skill is as good as it can be or am I pushing the pace and rushing on to the next stage too quickly?’. Maintenance asks, ‘am I providing sufficient repetition for this learning to become truly embedded and, so to speak, second nature?’. Finally, generalisation is a reminder to teachers to provide a range of contexts in which the pupil can initiate and practice a learned skill.

In order to ensure consistency of judgements we have provided each of the four aspects with a rating scale and descriptors, adapted from those used in MAPP.

As in MAPP, the criteria for success will vary from pupil to pupil and from focus to focus. There is no expectation that a value of ‘10’ should be recorded for each aspect before a focus is judged to have been achieved. This type of assessment and how we are adapting and using it, is as an ipsative form of assessment (that is, it compares a pupils’ present attainment with their own prior attainment, how they have progressed from their starting point). We find it useful here to consider the analogy of going to the gym; when you are working out, you are trying to beat your personal best and improve upon your fitness, not that of the person working out next to you.

The importance of this data recording is that it gives a visual profile of progress, of relative strengths (between focuses set and between aspects of learning) and enables us to critically evaluate progress so that assessment can be fed back into planning teaching and learning. By doing this we will be in a better position to critically evaluate progress made amongst individual pupils and between groups of pupils if needed. Enabling us to further identify trends and plan next steps and interventions as necessary. The data will allow us to see trends within the 4 areas, for example if ‘generalisation’ was consistently gaining a lower score, could that indicate that further support needs to be given in that area before moving on to a next step?

In order to make meaningful assessments of each pupil, pupils are baselined, using the Riverside Progress Scale. Allowing us to create a full and accurate picture from which we can measure and predict future progress and to inform our next steps.

For each PLP focus there will be a baseline made against each of the below areas:

  • Independence Scale – from dependent to independent (1-10)
  • Fluency Scale – from approximate to accurate (1-10)
  • Maintenance Scale – from inconsistent to consistent (1-10)
  • Generalisation Scale – from single context to many contexts (1-10)

Teachers will make an informed judgement about when enough progress has been made before moving onto a new focus area. One pupil's ‘achieved’ will be different from another pupil’s ‘achieved’. One pupil may have a baseline of 2 and move up to the scale to a 4 and that may be deemed progress enough to say they have achieved that focus area to the best of their ability. Another pupil may start at a 3 and progress to a 9 or 10. This is where teacher judgement is essential, and the process relies upon the teacher knowing the pupil exceptionally well and being able to justify why a 4 would be an ‘achieved’ for that pupil.

The Riverside Progress Scale celebrates professional judgement and views this as crucial and pedagogically sound.