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Widespread dishonesty over levels?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mature_maths_trainee, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    I'm just very concerned at how raw 'levels' (and 'two, three or four sub-level progress per year') are being used to 'demonstrate' students progress, and achievement. There's just seems so much inconsistency, manipulation, inherent error, and room for abuse as to make them highly over-valued. I don't think 'dishonest' is too strong a term for how I see them used.
    A specific example from my new (lower set) class. A student recorded as 'working at' level 5a, with EOY target of 6c, and with prior in-class 'test' results of 5b/5c/5b etc. has recently just scored level 3c in their 'proper', exam condition, SAT-like paper.
    Unsurprisingly (for us teachers), depending upon how the tests/assessments are performed, you can get wildly varying results. Attempting to 'average' these diverse assessment metrics to sub-level accuracy is, to me, increasingly ridiculous. [Or at least, the part that is increasingly ridiculous is the seriousness with which they are being taken].

    But what's a better alternative?
  2. scrap levels.
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Regular testing and trust the teachers on their judgement.
  4. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Well that's never going to happen then!
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Perhaps not in the UK state sector.
    However, I am HoD in a boarding school in Switzerland and that is how I run my department.

  6. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Okay. Thanks for people's thoughts so far.
    But what exactly are 'we' saying?
    Are levels (and sub-levels, in particular) of use in any other subjects? Is it just Maths where they are inappropriate / over-used?
    From my understanding, the focus /importance of sub-levels has been entirely driven by OFSTED, and the resulting pressure on SLT to produce 'clear, measurable, metrics' (even for a characteristic as inherently complex and nebulous as 'ability in Maths'). That, combined with the fact that many SLT leaders (from humanities and other non-numerical subjects) simply don't understand how experimental data can be 'over-analysed' and mis-used.
    If my understanding is correct, then it seems likely things will persist until OFSTED re-think?

  7. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Absolutely right in my opinion. OFSTED are obsessed with datd and tracking pupil progress hence so are SMT. As to whether the data is correct or meaningful no one seems to care.
    We have had really lovely high acheieving students going home in tears because they have been told by SMT they are under acheiving. They have A* targets and are currently working at grade A (in year 10) so that is interpreted by the humanities SMT bods as underachievement!!
  8. I agree 100%.

    It's a farcical policy to say that levels reported to parents can not go down.
  9. I use moderation in the widest possible sense here, indeed probably wider than the word genuinely should be used.

    I'm looking for things like common tests with common agreed mark schemes being used within the faculty as part of the 'leveling' process. For those subjects where the degree of subjectiveness is greater (eg. assessing English essays) then moderation activities / training activities within teams to get a common understanding of 'what a level 5 looks like on this task' for example.

    It's not perfect but, in a world where levels are used, perhaps we've gone some way to reducing some of the issues that can cause concern.
  10. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Widespread dishonesty, fostered by widespread use of these arbitrary numbers to judge teacher performance and award pay.

  11. This is exactly what our SLT tell us to do.
    It is a complete joke.
    If I were a Headteacher, I would ban all use of levels across the curriculum except for one summative assessment each year. Teachers would mark books and correct mistaken work and offer suggestions for students to improve. Students wouldn't know "what level they're working at" because they don't need to - they and their teachers would know if they were doing well or not because they would be told if either was the case.
    Students, parents, teachers, SLT don't understand levels and one reason is there's no general consensus on how to use them, so people view them differently.
    I would also make sure I had Deputies and Heads of Department I trusted to manage their departments well so I knew structures were in place to ensure teaching was as high in quality as possible - levelling work does not add to this.
    I cannot stand being made to give levels out to students for single pieces of work - what an absolute mockery of our system.
  12. s1x


    My kids levels are never good throughout the year, but any external examination shows they have made progress.
    I never fudge things, never prep them for internal assessments (that have been made by the department) and never snowball levels/grades to make myself look better.
    I am aware people do it and I'm aware people prep their pupils for internal exams (by looking at papers). At the end of the day I am happy to churn out cohort after cohort on or above their target in their GCSE/A level and Im sure when the SLT look back they will be happy with what Im doing.
    Bring back SATs.
    In fact introduce them for every year group so they take responsibility for their progress instead of wasting KS3.
    I am aware this will lead to simply prepping kids for exams instead of teaching maths but I am not into levels and subjective/fabricated progress reports.
  13. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Occasional commenter

    99% correct, IMO.
    Why not 100%, you ask ?
    Because you fail to mention the genesis of these "arbitrary numbers." Perhaps because you are too young.
    Us old hands ( non-grammatical standard usage) remember that this whole malevolent pseudo-scientific load of educational cobblers masking as objective truth was drawn up on the back of a fag packet in White's of Picaddily by brylcreemKen, madMaggie's then SoS; Education, in 5 minutes flat during the passage of the 1988 "Great Educational Reform Bill" in order to...... further screw teachers.

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