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Efficient ways to tackle APP nonsense

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by Heisenberg1, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Hello,
    I'm an NQT teaching in a lovely primary school where we're expected to complete APP for reading, writing and mathematics. Thankfully, the school does not demand we use APP for all the other subjects so I guess we're lucky in that sense but nevertheless, APP is a huge pain!
    Please be honest and tell me how much time you invest into this box ticking exercise? What ways have you found that enable you to complete APP data 'effeciently'?
    I refuse to devote hours upon hours of my life to this highly flawed bureaucracyso any tips about how to contend with these ill-thought-out systems whilst maintaining work life balance whilst simultaneously improving perceived levels of performance would be much appreciated.
    Thanks in advance. [​IMG]
  2. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I am not Primary ( you may have put this on the Primary forum also ? ) but I do appreciate the phenomenal workload that many of my Primary colleagues undertake . I hope some of them find the time to provide feedback on your perception of APP and provide some support / advice however given the tone of your post they may well be wasting their time !
  3. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    I'm surprised after just a term of teaching you feel experienced enough for the strong opinions you clearly have.
  4. Actually, I have two terms under my belt and whilst I realise my lack of experience, it doesn't stop me from having an opinion. I worked in schools (primary and secondary) in other roles before I became a teacher and these experiences combined with my teaching experience may have helped shape my opinion. Now, I'm wondering how much experience does one really need to see the obvious flaws in this system? I'm sensing you're about to defend APP. Why?
  5. No, they wouldn't be wasting their time as I'm very open to suggestions, advice and guidance despite what my OP might suggest. My view of APP has also been influenced by mentors I've had who acknowledge that it's a flawed system and that it's impossible to do it the way it's supposed to be done whilst having a family/personal life.
    Does APP benefit children in any way or is it simply an accountability system that drains teachers' time? If it is a useful tool, how can I use it efficiently?
  6. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    I have no intention of defending it. However, my school only use it for writing and I do not find that it takes much of my time so, personally, I have no real objection. In all honesty, I have spent longer reading and replying to this thread than I have looking at APP this term.
    And sorry, your two terms experience. As we all know, it's not statutory so why don't you explain the "obvious flaws" to your head, as I'm sure they'll agree with you, and you won't have to do it at all.
  7. You may be an NQT, but I think you are spot on. APP is nonsense. Absolutely no evidence base to show that it helps pupils make progress. It is 'tick list teaching' and as you say 'highly flawed'. No doubt some colleagues feel that, having spent many hours trying to make it work, they have some sense of loyalty to it. However, it is not and never was statutory and we should feel confident to refuse to attempt to make the unworkable work.
  8. I probably will voice my objections to the head once I have settled in a little more and tested the water to see who else would admit to sharing my objections.
  9. Thank you, Danny. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way. I'm sure there are others at my school who will agree with me although they may not want to admit to it after investing time and effort into it like you say.
  10. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Don't worry, I'm sure you'll convince them all you are perfectly correct.
  11. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Remember that no matter whatever your opinions may be ( justified or not ) you still have a long way to go in teaching / this school. Be mindful of not alienating your colleagues . I think you need to develop more emotional intelligence and dare I say demonstrate some ' humility'
  12. cleggy1611

    cleggy1611 New commenter

    I feel your pain. We do it for maths, reading, writing, s&l, science and now for pe. Plus, we are using a similar system for all of the above apart from pe. I have argued in vain about the pointlessness of using 2 systems. To be honest, we 're supposed to update app sheets every term but I've simply stopped doing it. No one has noticed - not even ofsted. I refuse to spend my life highlighting. The HT argument is that all teachers should know where children are working but surely teachers know this already and evidence for judgements are in books.
    Rant over for now!
  13. Not two personalities. Just different behaviours in different contexts.
  14. Thanks. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. It's especially reassuring when more experienced teachers tell me it's ****** and that it's not something I should be spending lots of time on.
  15. That's what I don't get. How can HT's really believe that? How can some teachers say with so much self assurance that a child is working at a certain level (e.g. 2B / 3A / 4C) in a particular subject? Correct me if I'm wrong but one child's 2B could be significantly different to another child's 2B, right? I think that's one of many flaws I can see in using APP. Testing seems to make more sense to me but I realise that this method of assessment also has it's flaws. Generally, I think (or suspect) that good teaching and assessment generally relies on qualitative data rather than quantiative data in the form of APP levels.
  16. Hi,
    I am an independant IT Consultant and from working in a Liverpool Primary School have totally digitalized APP. My digital version calculates pupil status, ie; BL, IE, Emerging, Working within, Secure and then grades the pupils for each subject for each term in each year.
    If you would like a demo of the software get back in touch with me.
  17. We have to date and highlight APP cards for our whole class every term -- reading, writing, maths and science. This involves up to 2 weeks assessment at the start of every term especially for reading and maths.I timed myself assessing/completing my literacy cards this term and found they took me about 5 hours. Compounded by a recent management decision that each statement is dated 3 times before it can be highlighted! When there is evidence in each pupils writing tracking book which accompanies each card, I find it hard to justify this amount of time. I usually cross reference my assessment level with a P level doc. which sub-levels most areas of the curriculum. Being a year 1 teacher I also consider pupils age and FS stages.
    At my last Pupil Progress meeting with H and D-h they voiced how pleased they were with year groups progress, so I mentioned how long the APP cards had taken me. My D-h said she completed her reading cards whilst listening to the child read, that most teachers had to do the same APP cards as we do, they were pertinent to us achieving 'outstanding' for OFSTED and finally, perhaps I should change my career. With 3 years before I can retire I didn't feel it exhibited the caring attitude I would have hoped for from school management. Fitting in a possible extra 14 hours of paperwork after planning, marking, meetings, displays, blah-de blah, we all know what else there is, in my opinion is another example of authority's obsession of process at the expense of product.
    After all that, how useful are they? The Lit and reading cards are quite useful as a quick 'next steps' for that child, which I also use as my notes at parent consultations. Our maths and science are unit based so only certain areas can be highlighted and do not help to 'level' pupils attainment.
    Lastly, I am very sorry that young people are entering our wonderful profession with such a huge load of paperwork, despite union efforts. Exercise caution when voicing discontent to management over APP cards. I fear they are here to stay.
  18. Antinko

    Antinko New commenter

    APP has its flaws yes, but can you think of a better method of tracking progress? I do not work in primary (am KS3 Coordinator in English at secondary) and I find that APP is anything *but* a box ticking exercise.
    There are a wide range of assessment focuses which enable staff to clearly identify the progress students are making in various disciplines within a subject. With thorough and frequent assessment opportunities, it is incredibly useful for identifying which students require intervention in which areas and, therefore, enable teaching staff to facilitate faster progression.
    When used effectively, this practice can be applied within the classroom getting students to self and peer assess themselves against criteria and, as a result, enable them to identify more independently specific areas where they need to improve.
    Furthermore, the Key Stage Levels attached to each focus are mapped against Bloom's Taxonomy so the more aware staff and students are of APP, the more easily they can be pushed to meet more aspirational targets which encourage higher order thinking.
    Just my two pennies.

  19. I'll defend APP by saying that, as intended it makes sure that there is a level of consistency accross the school with teacher assessment and that ongoignobjective level assesment is the only way to know as a teacher where each child strenghts and weaknesses are within a subject. It is designed to help teachers to feel more secure with their judgments, rather than just making a random guess at the level/sub level may be. I'm not saying that all teachers don't know what a level should be but some don't and that's not good enough. The worst thing I see when in schools is that teachers conclude a level based upon one piece of work, rather than a complete picture of the pupil in a subject. You will hear alot of people moaning about SATS but it's impossible to move away from such a system without having a reliable method for teachers to come to consistent conclusions about levels and sub levels.
    I can criticise APP however for it's implemenation being entirly paper based, which is ridiculous and takes too much time. If you have 30 children and are using APP for 4 subjects, thats 120 paper sheets needed at any one time on the presumption that each child will only cover a minimum of 2 levels over the year, so it could be more than 120.
    I think you need to make a distinction between the principle and the practice and look for ways to improve the process. I would suggest talking to teachers at other schools to see what works for them and what doesn't and use that to inform your decision as to how best to make it easier for you if you are struggling to manage.
    Hope this helps you and all the best.


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