Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by charmedimsure, Mar 3, 2011.

1. ### charmedimsure

my son, yr 9 has just brought home his latest progress report. His maths level has been given as 4a. This is now about 2/3 levels lower than the rest of his subjects. I am always confused as to how the maths dept works out levels as they give different sub levels for each paper and not one over all e.g. the papers that the progress level was based on were 2009 level 3-5 papers. In paper 1 he got 24 (and marked level 4c) paper 2 he got 32 (marked level 4a). They have given him a level 4a on his progress report. Adam Creen once kindly explained how the levels work out but are the school wrong in marking as they are?

2. ### charmedimsure

my son, yr 9 has just brought home his latest progress report. His maths level has been given as 4a. This is now about 2/3 levels lower than the rest of his subjects. I am always confused as to how the maths dept works out levels as they give different sub levels for each paper and not one over all e.g. the papers that the progress level was based on were 2009 level 3-5 papers. In paper 1 he got 24 (and marked level 4c) paper 2 he got 32 (marked level 4a). They have given him a level 4a on his progress report. Adam Creen once kindly explained how the levels work out but are the school wrong in marking as they are?

3. ### DMNew commenter

It sounds like the problem is the school has got drawn into the murky world of reporting "sublevels" - these are creatures that do not actually exist and do not bear close scruitiny. Your son is working at Level 4 in mathematics, this means he find this subject difficult as the expected level for a child of his age is Level 5/6.

4. ### Betamale

IMO, its not worth pulling it apart to that finer detail with an internal progress report. The old SATS were done on paper 1, 2 and a mental test which was out of 30. IIRC most kids pulled their overall mark up by the mental test with easier marks.
At the end of the day it doesnt matter how they are marked, the concern is how to move him on as the only assessment he is likely to ever do is one based on overall UMS.
Are you saying he is two to three levels below other subjects or two thirds of a level? If its the latter then TBH so much of data given nowadays os 'professional judgement' and you cannot split that with any accuracy from experience.
If you are suggesting he is level 6-7 in other subjects then there is an issue with his ability/understanding/motivation (or many other things)
25-30 on a 3-5 paper is generally common sense. I would look at the overall as its not going to change much in terms of his overall prgress, level 4a/4b or whatever. I think its a case of bigger picture, longer term

Thanks for the namecheck. It sounds like the school are being even weirder than before - sublevels on individual papers is madness. You, DM and Betamale are all right - he is underachieving; and I would want to know what his level was at KS2. If he hasn't gone up from Year 6 to Year 9 then you need to be asking for the school to do more - they might be able to offer 1-to-1 tuition which is designed for students making insufficient progress. I think it unlikely that they are marking the papers wrong, they just giving you too much information!

6. ### markussOccasional commenter

Your son's school's maths assessment is in its own little world
Schools are supposed to do Teacher Assessment without test involvement. You can look in the maths national curriculum and see what children have to do to attain the levels - and attaining certain marks in certain tests just doesn't figure.
You'll also see that there are no sub levels in the national curriculum assessment scheme. "4c" as a national curriculum assessment is meaningless.
When children do do national curriculum tests, or NCTs, as we in the assessment profession sometimes call them (children in Y9 don't do SATs at all - that's a total myth) the marks are converted to give an estimated level but there are never any letters in the result. That's just a bit of "creative interpretation" - i.e. fiction by the school.

No, when children do national curriculum tests, the marks are converted to give a sublevel with a letter in the result. I am not doing any sort of "creative interpretation" or "fiction", that is how the end of Key Stage assessments are meant to work. They are the ONLY time that sublevels were originally designed to be used. Charmedimsure, believe me when I say that sublevels are not fiction, Markuss is wrong.

8. ### MathsHOD

When you look at the breadth of content within any given level it is huge. Saying someone is 'working at level 4' covers a huge range of students - I certainly can say which of my 'level 4' students are working at the upper end of this range and will soon be 'working at level 5' and also say those who only just made it into the 'working at level 4, category.

In this respect I can meaningfully say someone is working at a high level 4 or a lower level 4. We report this using a,b,c sublevels but could just as easily swap them for the words high,mid or low as some schools do; or 3/4; 4; 4/5 as some other schools do.

9. ### charmedimsure

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply. I can understand of course that my son, like others will be better at some aspects of maths than others e.g. he is always stronger on calculator papers and anything to do with data interpretation. What I can't understand about the school though is that they use past SATs papers as ways of assessing (which is fine) but then they seem to come up with their own marking scheme which seems to have nothing to do with the guidelines online. I understand that an overall mark is supposed to be given for paper 1, paper 2 and the mental maths part combined They mark all these individually which actually is quite helpful I suppose because it shows where strengths and weaknesses are. I don't know, but I'm slightly worried that they then just take the highest score and use that on reports to show progress.
My son did not do his SATs in yr 6 the school told me it wouldn't be suitable for him but he took various past papers which came out as level 2-3. He has recently been put on a programme at school called Rapid maths. The senco did an assessment before the course started and it showed his arithmetic skills as being level 2-3, which she was very surprised at and which the maths dept. are disputing.
He is working at level 6-7 in other subjects (apart from physics now).
Thanks again for helping me to understand the weird and wonderful world of levels

10. ### Betamale

This may sound blunt but I cant help thinking your focus is still slightly off the crux of the issue.
It matters little how the school have marked the paper.....If you think this is strange, get into the world of edexcel UMS when they are doing grade boundaries. They must wheel out a fruit machine and smack the buttons until they come up with something even they couldnt do again.
Maybe your focus has to simply be on the foundations of his maths? he is not close to a level 6 in maths even if you bend every possible measure of assessment. There is (IMO) no requirement to know the finer aspects of marking as it will only be changed or justified by the time you have.
There is also a huge difference between producing work that is level 6-7 Vs being a secure level 6-7 pupil in maths.
Take the pressure off yourself (and potentially your son) and look at this holistically as a case of developing his understanding and enjoyment of th subject and see where that leads rather than looking at targets by level.
I work with kids who are level 2-3 in numeracy and whilst this isnt all maths is, I will never discuss it with them, we just plug on and any increase in level is a byproduct of their development rather than trying to match numbers to grades.

11. ### charmedimsure

Thanks Betamale. I hope I don't put any pressure on my son but he certainly puts it on himself! On Monday it was parents evening, they are choosing their options at the moment. It was lovely to hear all subject teachers feel that if he continues to work at his current level he would be expected A/Bs. In Maths the teacher said it is more likely to be an E. This could obviously have an impact on further education. Levels are very important to the school and each bit of work in maths that is marked is given a level. The Maths teacher told me that he feels it is very important for all students to know what level they are working at. I would love to encourage son's enjoyment of the subject but this is unlikely when he feels he struggles with most aspects of it. He is on the waiting list for a private Maths tutor that has been recommended to us so maybe that will help.

12. ### Betamale

Im not sure waiting for a private tutpr is really required at this level?
Anhyhow, although a little outdated, some of the info below may intrest you
Perhaps look at some of these?
Work out National Curriculum levels from diagnostic tests (updated 23 February 2004)
The diagnostic tests used in Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 have been analysed so that scores in these tests can be converted into National Curriculum levels. These tables are now available on the Book 7, Book 8 and Book 9 pages. <table><tr><td></td></tr></table>You can link directly to the nine tables using the links below:

13. ### evi71

If your sone is so much lower inhis abilities in maths than other subjects have you any CATs test results to look at? If so is there a marked difference in the three strands?
As everyone has said, the levels and sublevels for KS3 are very hard to attribute accurately to students and the focus for him should be the formative assessment the teachers give rather than summative.

14. ### florapost

yes - but if he wants a better-then-e at gcse, and from a practical job-seeking pov, that's a sensible ambition, a private tutor could get him kick-started
and if he appears to have weaknesses in maths compared to other subjects, working with a private tutor could help both identify and work on them - not to mention boosting his self-confidence and breaking the vicious circle lack of confiodence can create. also if he has basic gaps in his numeracy, it would be no bad thing for the rest of his real life to address them now
waiting list though? do you mean for a one-to-one in school, or for someone you pay yourself? if the latter, can you now find someone without a waiting list? can the school recommend (we have 3 early-retired teachers, fior example, that we recommend) or a firend who has been in the same position. if the former, could you scrape money together for the latter, at least for a while - it only took 5 hours of tutoring to get miss post's german up from a maybe-c-if-you're-lucky to a b

15. ### Betamale

Indeed. Many kids can relate to their peers especially if they too struggled at the same age.
It can also give some of your more tricky kids a focus, a bit of responsibility and allow them to build skills (like articulating themselves and communication in general)

16. ### florapost

oh yeah - sorry - misunderstood your objection (sorry, having the sort of week where i'm lucky to be able to find my own way home)
totally agree

17. ### Betamale

No probs
It would be similar to someone who is very late for an appointment standing on the side of the road trying to phone a private taxi company as 10 double deckers pass by