4As in Yr4 - how unusual?

(242 Posts)
SilverBellsandCockleShells Fri 15-Mar-13 07:15:28

I went to parents' evening yesterday. We've recently moved our 8yo son because we knew he was bright and felt he was underperforming and our decision appears to have been vindicated! After predicting a 3a for him by the end of the year after their initial assessments, they have now assessed him as 4a for maths, and 4b for English, and reckon he will improve to 4a by the end of the year if he continues to focus and improve as he is doing.

Obviously this is good! grin I was just wondering how good. Are they the kind of levels you would expect the top children in a yr4 class to be achieving? Or is it more exceptional than that. I'm vaguely considering scholarships but don't want to push him if he is just averagely outstanding, if such a thing exists!

rabbitstew Fri 15-Mar-13 18:33:54

swallowedAfly - I think only about 75% of children reach the "expected level" or above at the end of year 6, don't they? Leaving 25% of children not reaching that level. So, the average is surely just that - the average, not something corrupted by hoardes of neglected children with SEN and unaffected by the upper middle class children in favourable catchment areas with extremely involved parents?!!.... You have a rather unusual view of what average means.

rabbitstew Fri 15-Mar-13 18:39:53

What scope within SATs is there for the unusual thinker to show their unusual abilities??? I would have thought it was fairly limited, wasn't it? Otherwise there wouldn't be so much time spent at primary school making children aware of what their "next steps" are to achieve the next level and what criteria they need to fulfil to reach that next level - eg pop more adjectives/connectives/adverbs/metaphors/ paragraphs, etc, into their writing...? SATs really are tiresomely linear in the way they assess children - no scope whatsoever for doing fair measurements on children who develop in a non-linear way or have any spark about them...

RaisinBoys Fri 15-Mar-13 18:57:01

well said rabbit!

average means everyone's scores added together and divided by the number of scores in the usual sense of the word.

so of course yes that includes ALL students and of course one would expect children without SEN or other obstacles to learning and with involved literate parents to be above average.

how would that be an 'unusual' view? confused

imo a child with 'spark' about them will be able to sparky AND perform for a sat test.

rabbitstew Fri 15-Mar-13 20:00:54

Averages usually exclude the extremes and there is more than one way of assessing an average - you are talking about a mean average. Is that how it is calculated? I don't think the government has ever been that scientific or mathematical in its expectations - its expectations actually seem to be plucked out of the air and changed at a whim. "Expected levels" therefore, imo, have little to do with any idea of what an "average" child should be like.

And yes, it is an unusual view to expect all children to be above average unless they have SEN or other obstacles to learning (which imo would include uninvolved, illiterate parents...). Even in IQ terms, the average IQ can be between 90 and 110 - that's quite a big range. One SATs level does not an average child make, anyway.

As for children with spark - Einstein always had a spark when it came to maths and science, but I think his languages and arts subjects let him down... and I doubt he would have wanted to waste his time artificially fitting in more connectives into his sentences once he felt he had adequately communicated his meaning, either.

not sure that's unusual and no way to define that. seems common sense to me that an able child without learning difficulties, sen, etc and with involved literate parents should be performing above average when the sum total includes everyone without that baseline advantage. seems common sense rather than 'unusual'.

if you have sent your child into school at an above average start then you'd expect them to still be above average a few years later.

sen, esol, non literate backgrounds etc are not the 'extreme' you seem to think they are ime but very common. as are uninvolved parents (never mentioned class personally) be it disinterested, unable, too busy. ill, caring for elderly relatives or disabled siblings or whatever else.

rabbitstew Fri 15-Mar-13 22:59:35

But swallowedAfly, you are now talking about an able child without learning difficulties. It stands to reason that an able child is above average, or they wouldn't be described as able... that doesn't mean that it stands to reason that a child with an IQ of 90 (within the average) will be doing better than the expected level just because their parents are literate and involved, unless by involved you mean interested in SATs levels and how to ensure their child does well in them, which is not everyone's idea of how to involve themselves in their children's development.

DD1 got level 3s in y1, 4s in y3 and 5s in year 5 (and y6 as no level 6 test then). She's now in y11 and on course for a rack of A*s.

As a teacher, I've had a third of a y2 class finish on level 3, and I've had only 10% at that level. My current y1s include 9 children who are already level 2 and a few who will definitely be at level 2 by the summer. However, I only have one White British child and 95% EAL.

but 'able' MEANS without barriers or learning difficulties to me. it is the opposite of 'dis'-abled. if a child has nothing to hold them back and is being measured against those that do then of course they should come out above average. able doesn't mean genius or anything it means lucky you your brain is fully functional and you have no disabilities or learning difficulties holding you back. that's all. nothing remarkable.

i would say an IQ of 90 was a barrier. but you're back to saying 'within average' which is circular - average includes people with brain injuries, severe mental disabilties etc so again you'd be above average if you didn't have any of those barriers. my whole point has been that comparing yourself/your child to 'average' is not helpful. an average of children with english as a first language, no relevant SEN, good school attendance and no distracting traumas going on would tell you more about how your child was doing i guess but we don't have that data - we have data that includes many, many children who have much lower results for very understandable reasons.

those are fab results you're getting postmanpat.

having been a teacher and seen how mixed ability teaching can pan out my concern educationally with ds is just making sure that he's not ignored and left unchallenged. sitting on your laurels being told you're fine doesn't prepare you for having to work hard and keep improving further down the line.

people might think levels are a nonsense and why should parents care but realistically they are the way that you know your child's teacher is on the ball, has the measure of your child, knows where they're at and where they are heading towards and has a strategy for how to make that happen. your child's progress in levels tell you that the school is 'adding' to their skills which when you're sending them there for 6 hours a day you'd want to think they were.

it's not which particular level they're at it's that their level is known and they're progressing to the next one. it's about the value added rather than just the numbers. i don't agree we need national sats etc but teachers need to know and be able to discuss what level your child is at.

sittinginthesun Sat 16-Mar-13 08:32:11

I know, from our last parents' consultation, and also my discussions with the head as a governor, that they are far more concerned about progress than actual levels. So DS1's levels are less important than the fact he is still progressing at a good rate.

Also, I do think it's a bit like piano grades. It's one thing to teach to the test, learn the grade pieces and stuff, and get a pass. It's another thing to be genuinely rounded and at that level, and therefore pass a grade.

I know there is a lot of box ticking etc, but if a child is genuinely working at a level, being stretched to the top of their ability, is self motivated to do it, and is actually comfortable and not stressed about it, then I personally think that's the best it can be. If I had a child who was all those things, but average level wise, then I would still be happy that the school was doing its job well.

lljkk Sat 16-Mar-13 08:48:37

Only on MN would someone claim that the typical child should have well above average test marks, unless their parental support is truly pants (always the parents' fault, innit?)

For that matter, there are those who claim that all NT children should be working 2+ levels above NC targets if only they were HE'd.

that's a total over simplification of what i've said and i never said anything about 'pants parental support' and blaming the parents. i actually talked about parents who were unable to support either through their own literacy issues, being carers for elderly/disabled relatives, or whatever else.

if height measurements included people with dwarfism and spinal degenerative diseases of all kinds one would expect a person without those conditions to be above average height. how is that rocket science?

i wouldn't have thought it was rocket science to suggest that one on one education would see quicker progress than 1:30 either confused if the '1's in the equation were equal.

AllPurposeNortherner Sat 16-Mar-13 08:55:56

It is very good, but not 'matilda' level. Well done to your son, he is oing really well grin

redskyatnight Sat 16-Mar-13 10:19:09

I think it's an oversimplification to say that a child with no SEN and involved supportive educated family will always be above average at primary level.

DD has a friend - her parents both have degrees and her father is an academic. They read regularly at home, make sure she does her homework, help her in areas she finds difficult and work with school to see where they can additionally support at home. she has no SEN. She "should" be doing "above average" but she isn't - despite parents best efforts she is performing consistently below average. And that's just one example of a child I happen to know well.

Arbitrarily deciding that this sort of child "should" be working above average means you are indirectly casting blame on the parents or the school ... whilst failing to realise that children don't fit into nice boxes.

oh an exception? well that's proved it then grin

i think the fact that her parents are trying so hard to work out what the 'issue' is and work with the school rather proves my point that people expect children with no barriers and good support to be performing above average and scout around for a cause when they are not.

rabbitstew Sat 16-Mar-13 11:16:39

swallowedAfly - it's fairly obvious you don't teach a science or maths subject... perhaps you had better admit you don't understand height charts, weight charts, intelligence tests or how the averages you are talking about are calculated.... You won't find anyone telling you your child has a learning disability if they have an IQ score of between 90 and 110 with no odd spikes in the profile - you will be told your child is of average ability. And perhaps you had better look up what "able" means in the dictionary.

mrz Sat 16-Mar-13 11:23:06

"National Curriculum tests are a measurement of achievement against the precise attainment targets of the National Curriculum rather than any generalised concept of ability in any of the subject areas. The National Curriculum standards have been designed so that most pupils will progress by approximately one level every two years. This means that by the end of Key Stage 2 (age 11), pupils are expected to achieve Level 4"

Level 4 isn't "average" it is the expected level for MOST children ...

RaisinBoys Sat 16-Mar-13 11:24:58

but 'able' MEANS without barriers or learning difficulties to me. it is the opposite of 'dis'-abled.

That is not the definition of an 'able child' in an educational context swallowedAfly. There is many an able child who has a barrier to learning.

A good school works in partnership with the pupil and the parents to enable that child's learning so that they continue to progress and are challenged, inspired and motivated.

mrz Sat 16-Mar-13 11:33:57

"The percentages of pupils achieving above the expected level, Level 5 or above, in the 2011 Key Stage 2 tests by subject are as follows:

English 29 per cent (down 3 percentage points from 33 per cent in 2010)
Reading 43 per cent (down 8 percentage points from 50 per cent in 2010)
Writing 20 per cent (down 1 percentage point from 21 per cent in 2010)
Mathematics 35 per cent (up 1 percentage point from 34 per cent in 2010)

so about a third of pupils nationally will be working at a similar level to the OPs child.

rabbitstew Sat 16-Mar-13 11:46:34

Of course level 4 has very little to do with ability. Hence SATs being a rather ineffective way of measuring whether someone is bright enough to get a scholarship into a selective school - someone on a level 4 in year 4 in a class of children all working considerably below that level may be considerably brighter than a child working at a level 5 in year 4 in a class of children where everyone is working at that level.

How level 4 was come up with as the "expected level" is anyone's guess, so far as I can tell - it must have related to some kind of perceived norm, or, as I have already suggested, a governmental whim.... as for "MOST" children - that is pretty meaningless, as it can mean anything over 50%. I think nationally around 75% get at least a level 4, don't they? Leaving a substantial minority who don't. And the advertised point of SATs when they first came out was to check up on the teachers, not the kids, so why people are pronouncing their views about whether a child is capable of getting a scholarship into a school on the back of their year 4 SATs levels, I don't know...

mrz Sat 16-Mar-13 11:51:59

The percentages of pupils in all schools achieving the expected level, level 4 or above, in the 2012 Key Stage 2 headline measures are as follows:
English 85 per cent (not comparable to previous years)
Mathematics 84 per cent (up 4 percentage points from 80 per cent in 2011) Both English and mathematics 79 per cent (not comparable to previous years)

mrz Sat 16-Mar-13 11:57:59

The percentages of pupils in all schools achieving the expected level, level 4 or above, in the 2012 Key Stage 2
all schools includes maintained Special schools

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