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Assessing progress over time without levels??

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by gina1_a, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. gina1_a

    gina1_a New commenter

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can help...

    I am looking for some help/ suggestions/ any ideas you may have on the matter of assessing pupils actual progress over time (say year on year or even throughout KS3) without the use of levels. As a maths department (and school) we have not yet got rid of levels for our current year 7's and KS3 pupils but are obviously looking into how we are going to roll this out.

    As a maths department we have (some) ideas for assessing pupil progress without levels with regards to exceeding/achieving/ not achieving key objectives at the end each block or topic but I am concerned with how this will show pupil progress over time.
    We currently use SAT's papers as an assessment at the end of each half term and can therefor currently track each pupils' score and level and monitor progress over time this way - understandably it it not always perfect but does show a trend over the course of the year and can evidence the progress which has been made by each pupil .

    I do quite like SAT's questions (although they are not perfect) are they still worth using to show progress over time? I don't see how they would necessarily be useful if they are not providing a level (other than to be used as just a bank of questions, and with the curriculum content changing maybe they are even less useful?). On the other hand without them what do we put in their place? Are we just ticking off objectives if/ when they are met by pupils to build up a bigger picture of progress over the year? If so how can we be certain of the overall progress of each pupil that year given that pupils will forget things, how can we be confident of where they are actually at? How can we inform/ make predictions towards grades further up the school for GCSE etc?
    I would be interested to hear of any ideas you have or methods which people are using or trialing currently. Has anyone found anything that works? Or is there no longer a need for progress to be measured over time and simply monthly progress checks are sufficient? Any advice or thoughts welcomed.

    Thanks Gina
  2. DHoD07

    DHoD07 New commenter

    Unfortunately I do not know any other method to track progress other than levels. I'm sure you can say having met some key mild stones e.g. you can do this objective and you can't do this one etc....
    How will that help you to say how much progress someone has made? How do you do a whole cohort analysis?

    I feel someone is trying to tinker with the system that really does not need to be changed.
  3. darhar

    darhar New commenter

    With my top set year 7, I teach a topic every 2 weeks.

    I have created a test using Foundation GCSE questions from Exam Wizard (I try to select as many worded ones as I can to involve literacy and problem solving).

    The mark scored (out of 60) gives an indication of where they are in relation to everyone else in the class.

    Therefore, if a student has a target of a grade 9, they should be doing better than a student with a grade 7.

    I also add in questions that extend the topic, but may not have been taught yet. For example, on an algebra test, I added a few questions involving index rules. Most were unable to answer but the top end students managed to work out what to do.
    wanet likes this.
  4. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Being old enough to have taught maths before levels were invented, I can assure everyone it is possible. Whether things were better back then or now and whether any of that's down to levels is debatable.
    As yet, I've not seen a current school or system which has abolished levels without reinventing them in another way. I suppose there was APP from the National Strategy but that went to the sewer and, from a workload perspective if nothing else, rightly so - and it still used levels. Moreover, Ofsted won't let us off the hook if we can't justify progress on some sort of linear scale. So, whatever happens, we'll have to continue the once half-termly round of fictional measurement that is 'assessment' time!
    wanet likes this.
  5. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Also taught prior to levels. I saw no improvement as a result of them. Infact I think that they resulted in many of the problems that schools now suffer from. I find it difficult to believe that any teacer needs to assess how to assess students without them. It was interesting when I saw early GCSEs were going to be marked with levels. But they never were. I wonder how they have managed to assess students.
    the reality is that levels make assessment much more difficult. RIP levels!
  6. musician_rules_ok

    musician_rules_ok New commenter

    What are levels marked out of? I;ve forgotten. Haven't taught maths for a while and need to revise for an interview. Is it just KS3 that have levels or do GCSE students get them as well?
  7. gina1_a

    gina1_a New commenter

    Thanks for your perspective of things. Darhar - are you making a test for every single topic you teach? I can see how this works as a spreadsheet with all the data and you can compare progress with one pupil against another in the class but how does this work across the other classes in year 7? I am concerned about the consistency across the year group and how this will be maintained unless they all did the same test. Also how are you monitoring progress as a whole over a term or the year? The topic tests as they were are great for progress at the time but how does it inform the progress of each pupil in the bigger picture as we all know they forget!
  8. DHoD07

    DHoD07 New commenter

    How can you have a accountability system which demands to see data trends and then say no levels! İt's all a bit silly to me. I went to my daughters parents evening at primary year 6 and I have no idea if she has made progress or needs more support etc... I actually came out confused on the system they were using!
  9. swampyjo

    swampyjo New commenter

    Levels have, in my opinion, a lot to answer for. They have been one of the causes (along with government accountability measures) of the jumping through hoops, cram for the exam, tick the box culture. Many of us have disliked levels for years, so I have welcomed the opportunity to develop a better, simper system.
    My school will be reporting to parents their child's EP score (1 to 9) and reporting whether they are making EP, or better, or worse. For maths, we will be deciding what determines EP simply by a combination or % scores in carefully written end of topic tests/termly tests and progress in skills tests. For example, a student who has got a 5 in their KS2 Maths and their CATs score predicts an A/A* would have an EP grade of 7. I would expect them to average (guessing now, but these guesses will improve) maybe 70%. If they are regularly getting 90% on their tests, they are performing above EP. Also I might decide to increase their EP score to an 8 over time.
    A child who got a level 4 in KS2 and a D at CATs would have EP of a 4. Their module tests might be easier, not being in the top set, and we might require 65% from them in their regular testing to be making EP.
    My colleagues seem to like this new system. The students like the fact that they know what they need to do to make EP and how much better they would need to do to exceed EP.
    lauraamyjacobs likes this.
  10. Welshmathsman

    Welshmathsman New commenter

    I love the idea of a world without levels...I know lets make every school make up its own criteria for measuring progress...that'll keep 'em busy so they don't see the complete mess we're making of the education system in this country. Think of all the time that is wasted doing this when people could be planning lessons that actually engage and excite pupils!!!! Now there's a thought!

    I'd love to say it's better here in Wales...but unfortunately it's not...numbties running the system. I've just spent days preparing for KS2/3 moderation where everyone brings their best KS2 / 3 level 4 or level 5 or level 6 to see if everyone in the cluster agrees its a level 4 / 5 / 6!!!!! No one brings a 'cusp' level 4/5 because if the cluster moderates it as a lower level they have to change all of their other levels down...so the Welsh education system spend the best part of a million pounds rubber stamping something any fool could have told you before the 'cluster moderations' took place!

    Someone needs to get some balls in the Welsh Government and say OK every school must bring their lowest level 4 / 5 / 6 and see if the rest of the cluster agrees. Then randomly sample all other pupils at that level to see if any schools are 'being creative' with their ideas of lowest in a level. But that would mean that everyone has to level correctly and the WG ministers couldn't claim that standards were improving...shame...
  11. Luvsskiing

    Luvsskiing Established commenter

    I don't see how you can compare schools if each is using their own in-house assessment method. How do I know that my year 7 students are doing pretty well and being pushed hard enough compared to other year 7 cohorts? And how do you measure 'progress' over a year when you have so many disparate topics, with assessment criteria you make up? I think this mess will leave a lot of parents confused about what is going on and how their child is doing. Why is it so difficult to have a national system of criteria for each topic, with a national system of topics to be worked through in each year, with a common assessment framework?

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