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Replacing National Curriculum Levels - what will your school do?

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by cefnbran, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. Sorry, should have written REPORT pupil progress.
  2. blueprintteacher

    blueprintteacher New commenter

    I echo this question please
  3. theoneinthecorner

    theoneinthecorner New commenter

    Nothing amazing.

    Create long-term plans from NC for each year. Create breakdown of skills and knowledge to be developed each year - Covey chart could be key here. Judge students against these skills and knowledge, give grade A to E. A = above expected progress, C = at expected progress, E = below expected progress. B and D mid -pts. Stakeholders understand grading system as its similar to GCSE. Problems are creating the expected progress grids and the demoralising fact that 20- 30% students likely to be getting E every year. Please share objections/other ideas as i'm still trying to work this out.

    Times like this i wish a body like the national strategy existed to do a load of the leg work and help have a consistent system from school to school.
  4. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    The DfE have made a cockup on this one. They forgot that that levels are used for tracking as well as for reporting to parents or for end of KS grades. When they were reminded (or told) about it, they belatedly wrote the "Assessment without levels" document to pretend that they meant it all along, and which threw the burden of working out an assessment system on the individual schools. How ridiculous, when there is a quite reasonable, national system already extant. There is no need to report levels to parents, report attainment relative to the norm for their age, but how else can you assess without an agreed national system?

    Much better for the DfE to admit they had missed something rather important, and to apologise. Spend a few quid looking at the new curriculum and see where the existing level descriptors need tweaking, and preserve the national assessment method.
  5. It is a tricky one, no consistency across schools means that there is no easy way to benchmark progress either ('Secondary Ready' will be used to benchmark attainment of course), schools are left in the dark about what to do and there is a danger that we end up with a strange hybrid between old and new that doesn't really work for anyone.

    Levels and Sub-Levels whilst understood by teachers did seem to get murkier and murkier with the advent of sub-sub levels (single APS progress) which was pretty hard to define.

    Most of the schools we are working with (at primary in the main) seem to be considering an age related measure. E.G an AfL framework based on the programmes of study broken into year groups with termly or half termly summative points for tracking. The scale seems to vary - we've seen schools looking at doing "Year 1 beg, dev, secure Year 2 Beg..." and a 'reading age' style scale, we've also seen a '% achieved' scale for each year's programme or study.

    My gut feeling is that the 'scale' will be less important from an Ofsted inspector's viewpoint, provided that the data is there and there is rigorous evidence, framework, policy and moderation to back this up. The most important piece of evidence being of course how pupils achieve in the 'secondary ready' test for which the scale is yet to be released...

    So does this mean a shift of emphasis from summative data to formative assessment & AfL?
  6. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    In the classroom, formative assessment is the way to go.

    But for tracking progress,the results of which which will be used outside the classroom by HTs, inspectors etc, you need a summative assessment. i.e you need a code for the child's current attainment. The HT needs to know the current attainment so he knows where to put his resources.

    What do you enter for a child who is in year 3 but is working at Year1 dev?

  7. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Levels were meaningless. NC levels were never intended to be used for the ridiculous minute-by-minute tracking required by paranoid smt. NC levels were only to be reported once per key stage. Sublevels were invented to do finer detailed tracking of progress and became the test of a teacher in most schools.

    All sublevels are made up. No-one ever understood the woolly NC level descriptors and every school interpreted them in their own way. Especially primary schools. I have seen quite ridiculous english levels attached to students who can barely read or write. But primary teachers are almost forced into this.

    Good riddance to levels. I would replace them with simple Achieving,Working towards, Exceeding grades attached to actual pieces of work. Units of work should have a definition of what a student should be capable of at the end of a unit. The student should then be tested on this.

    The whole idea of smt tracking straight lines of student progress throughout ks3 just lead to lies on spreadsheets.
  8. onmyknees

    onmyknees Established commenter

    Hear Hear!
  9. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    If so, how do you explain the strong correlation between end-of KS1 levels and end-of KS2 levels?

    "Levels" measurel attainment. Why should they work only at the end of a key stage?

    They certainly need clarification and standardisation.

    Perhaps that makes a case for amendment and more rigorous moderation, rather than abolition.

    Not just applicable to levels. You'll get this with any assessment of attainment where a teacher's future depends on the result.

    OK, but how would you decide on a child's progress?
  10. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    This sums up the entire problem I have with English education.

    I would simply ask what you mean by "progress".

    "Progress" defined by smt is where a student scores a set of similar levels for all subjects and all of the levels (or sublevels) show that the student is continually achieving higher and higher levels which are conveniently heading towards FFT "predictions".

    This definition of progress is nonsense. An ICT student may be good at presentations but terrible at spreadsheets. Say the student achieves a level 3 for a presentation and a level 1 for a spreadsheet. SMT would have me report a level 2 for ICT. Meaningless.

    I would simply define for a standard piece of assessment work what an average student should be able to achieve. I would then report how the student performed in the assessment. Achieved, working towards or exceeding.

    I would challenge the need for reporting "progress" at all. The concept only exists in the mind of smt and is totally meaningless in the real world.

    You ask a few very valid questions which I do not have time to answer right now.

    The correlation exists simply because primary teachers are not allowed to report anything else.

    I agree. However, due to the imprecise nature of the NC levels, two students could be on a level 3 for an assessment even though one student produces a much more detailed piece of work. The NC levels just do not take account of this. Also, this is where schools make up sublevels which are nothing to do with attainment and everything to do with smt need for straight-line "progress" and are the biggest source of lies in English education.
  11. T34

    how do you explain the strong correlation between end-of KS1 levels and end-of KS2 levels?

    The correlation exists simply because primary teachers are not allowed to report anything else.

    Exactly. If you keep getting hauled before SMT because the grids don't look right, eventually, even the most honest, conscientious teacher will make them look right!

    I remember a thread on here, within the last couple of years, in which a section of a child's writing was provided and we were all asked to level it. The responses ranged from a 1c to roughly a 2a and everyone was so sure of their levelling and could argue the reasons for their wildly different OPINIONS. It made me feel pretty hopeless about the whole carry on. Just feels like another task that takes my time when I would far rather be planning something exciting for the kids to get their teeth into.
  12. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    But if you want to compare pupils you need a finer tool than just a level, surely. A child can stay on the same level for a year or two. Don't the higher achievers deserve some recognition?

    Anyway, the real reason for removal of levels?


    from 29m 30s shows Dylan william (one of the four members of the executive panel for the 2014 NC) struggling to persuade pupils and a teacher to scrap "levelling" and to replace it with formative assessment. I gain the impression that he regards summative assessment (eg levelling) as a block to formative assessment, Could this be a factor in panel's recommendation to Gove to remove levels I wonder? To direct attention to formative assessment?

    But summative assessment (tracking) is still needed for presentation to HT and to OFSTED. The DfE response to this is to offer a "prize" of £10,000 to anyone who can produce a system!


  13. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I could not have put it better myself. Levels were never designed to be a fine tool. This is where I would use a grade of "exceeding" instead of "achieving" to show that one student had exceeded the average student expectation.

    I agree with Dylan's view that lessons become all about the level instead of the learning. SMT obsess about levels as they are a simple measure which SMT can understand but they are meaningless to students and parents.

    Why? Tracking is merely a statistical process which is a tissue of lies. HTs and OFSTED should be focussed on the learning not some meaningless number which is then compared to FFT data to decide on the worth of a teacher. FFT themselves state quite clearly that their data is NOT predictions. Yet, SMT across the land treat the FFT data like it was chiselled in stone by Moses. I do not see the need for tracking if a student is assessed regularly.
  14. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    There's no need to inform parents or students of the level attained, in fact, it's probably bad practice to do so. Just inform of the implication. Something like "good attainment for age", "average for age", or "below average for age" would do.

    That will be true if assessments are not moderated and checked rigorously.

    Yes, but that's an error in the use of the system by some SMT not necessarily a fault in the system itself.

    You don't see the need for an analysis of the assessment data? What's the point of collecting it if it is not used?

    The HT is like an army general. He needs to know how the battle is going in order to decide what to do next. If things don't turn out right in the end, someone is going to be asking him awkward questions such as "Why didn't you do something about this when you had the chance?!
  15. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Dear T,

    It is clear that we fundamentally disagree about levelling. I believe, like old Govey, they should be scrapped. There is a lot about what you write which makes me believe that you are not a teacher.

    The misuse of FFT data is endemic in English education. You would know that if you were a teacher.

    Moderation of levels mostly comes down to making the numbers fit FFT "predictions". Teachers know this.

    The analysis of assessment data according to my achieved, exceeding,working towards model would be easier as there is no fictional, meaningless number involved. Analysis would be about analysing the learning. Assuming moderation is in place, poor teachers would be identified by the low number of students achieving the standard.

    Your spirited defence of levels makes me think that you are a number-obsessed senior manager. The type who carries out appraisals by using a spreadsheet and an OFSTED tick list and who has forgotten that teaching is about students and learning, not filling in boxes.

    I left England to teach abroad because of excessive assessments, coursework cheating, SMT incompetence and the blatant constructive dismissal of experienced teachers to save money.

    The HT is, in my experience, an OFSTED stooge. Teaching and learning and simple common sense is sacrificed to get that extra "C" pass or a tick from an OFSTED inspector.

    Would it not be amazing if the HT job was to ensure that teaching and learning was allowed to happen free from interruption from poorly behaved students? Would it not also be amazing if SMT thought of themsleves as facilitators of a learning environment in support of teachers?

    Have a great day T.
  16. onmyknees

    onmyknees Established commenter

    I don't neccessarily think poor achievement is always a sign of poor teaching, but I totally agree with everything else you say.
  17. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    No, Not necessarily. If it can be done it is a great, but it might be impractical in some situations. Target setting for ICT in a secondary, based on KS2 reading, writing and maths, for example, seems to be stretching it. and as you say, FFT is a guide only.

    My interest is in Primary for only Reading, Writing and Maths, so my experience may be different from yours. I find that primary school teachers, with some exceptions, believe they can assign a level, or even a sub-level with consistency across a particular school, and even across different schools.

    Even simply splitting an assessment into exceeded/attained/emerging is subjective, and has the same potential for error as levelling. Whatever system used, SMT can set unrealistic expectations if they are inclined that way,

    Govey has just accepted what he was told by the executive of the NC committee, accompanied no doubt with promises of increased achievement for no cost. The quoted reasons for the non-replacement of levels are not convincing. Nothing about your theme of unreliability, for example.

    OK if you have a large enough assessment set over time, but many primary schools have high mobility which would complicate things. There is still a need to "level" a child on entry.

    I don't think I'm defending levels per se. If a better system can be devised then I am all for it. "Teaching" is one thing and reporting its resuts to those in strategic management positions is another, separate thing. BTW, I think a 3 point scale for an assessment is too blunt a tool.Many kids would stay on point 3 throughout their school career.

    It would indeed. Bad behaviour from a few individuals is the greatest impediment to attainment for a class or group. I've nearly always had excellent support from SMT on this front, and if not from SMT from HOD.

    Indeed yes. Couldn't agree more. But there's only so much support that can be given. I remember a HT of mine once remarking that a personality transplant was the only way that some teachers could be improved. Having said that, pushing for unrealistic grades and fiddling results is not on. But this will occur with any system of assessment.

    Thanks - reciprocated.

  18. I'm looking into the the pros and cons of using gcse targets from year 7 any comments? ideas?
  19. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    What targets? Where do these targets come from?
  20. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    I suspect they got scrapped due to the number of spreadsheets that were used to fudge the levels to create graphs that looked like students made progress.

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