KS1 results and infants schools - always accurate?

(28 Posts)
rubyextravagance Wed 19-Jun-13 13:19:26

Just reading another thread where someone mentioned something along these lines that got me thinking.

WDYT about KS1 grading in infants schools? Considering infants schools are graded on their results, is there an incentive to inflate them or is that just ridiculous?

I noticed a funny thing when looking at schools as part of a house move, I noted that the infant school I'm interested in has between 93% and 98% of their kids getting level 2s and 35% getting level 3s (noticeably above the national average), so this is fairly respectable taking account of how many families have 'worse than average circumstances' (ofsted). However when you look at the junior school the ofsted says that 'children entering have broadly average attainment', but clearly the ks1 results show above average attainment? And all children from the infants go on to the juniors and the juniors don't take from any other school. Also, the number of level 5s at the junior school are at or even below the national average (about 20%) for the last 3 years, although the number of level 4s are good (Between 83-93% depending on subject.) The value added (is this the same as progress score?) is only 98.6
Ofsted have given this infants school outstanding on everything, including teaching. Is it the juniors letting things down, or is the infants school grade inflating?
Ofsted mentions that the infants school 'has an extremely good system for tracking pupil progress' so this would imply the juniors is at fault? Would the juniors put you off the infant school? Or would you be more interested in the pastoral care (which sounds excellent btw with monthly meetings to look at the kids work and lots of emphasis on parents reading at home in the newletters etc, the school was also praised for its ability to partner with 'disengaged groups of parents'). However, I'm worried that if we need to move again in a few years time my DS might go to his new school (probably not an infants) unprepared if the teachers aren't grading him accurately, pastoral care aside.

So what do you think about this KS1 grading business?

BabiesAreLikeBuses Fri 21-Jun-13 22:38:35

This year's moderation much more rigorous, looked at a portfolio of pieces over time. Results are significantly lower in writing than previously. Also more ks2 and smt staff involved this year. I get the feeling they have been encouraged to keep them as high as possible to maintain their outstanding status - some felt a sudden drop may trigger an inspection...

Feenie Fri 21-Jun-13 22:28:00

If they do, then they are not following statutory rules set out since 2005 which state that teacher assessment is to be used - tests support the assessment conversation.

See this document Building a Picture of What a Child Can Do

What do they do when they are moderated? Some moderators will not even look at the tests - they want much more than that ime.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Fri 21-Jun-13 22:22:44

I work at a sep ks1 and 2, moderation is improving each year but....
We find that reading and maths levels are accurate, writing levels over generous for lots - many come at a 3c but we baseline them as 2a in september.
Our assessment tools are different - to get the level at ks1 you need to throw in a joining word and show less accuracy with punctuation than we demand. Also we measure over time and genres whereas ks1 rely mostly on a test. We have shown them our assessment tool and some newer teachers surprised by how rigorous our demands were and were keen to use the same.
I can well believe that some primaries intentionally keep it lower...

PastSellByDate Fri 21-Jun-13 10:51:23

Hi Feenie:

'enforced' is indeed wrong word choice

forcefully encouraged by LEA possibly a better choice - the LEA staff are also visiting a lot right now. Not sure what is brewing - but school used to be best performing in area and now is really struggling to achieved >70% NC L4 English/ Maths at KS2.

Feenie Thu 20-Jun-13 20:57:37

Which bit did you think wasn't pleasant??? confused

AbbyLou Thu 20-Jun-13 20:56:11

Nice for teachers to speak so pleasantly to each other Feenie. I always thought we stuck together. Obviously not. sad

Feenie Thu 20-Jun-13 20:34:17

I recommend mentioning that the tests are 'optional' in front of your Y2 teachers, just to watch them fall about laughing. grin

Feenie Thu 20-Jun-13 20:32:29

Must be why you think KS1 tests are optional then!

AbbyLou Thu 20-Jun-13 20:24:48

hmm hmm
I'm not a Y2 teacher.

Feenie Thu 20-Jun-13 20:19:13

hmm hmm

I am amazed at how how many Y2 teachers have never looked at the ARA.

mrz Thu 20-Jun-13 19:57:58

They aren't optional AbbyLou schools must administer the tasks and tests in Y2 even though the levels reported are Teacher Assessed.

AbbyLou Thu 20-Jun-13 19:44:40

Sorry I mean we still do old KS1 Sats papers for comprehension and maths and also use the titles for the long and short writing tasks. We do them the week Sats would have been done. It's just another way of adding to the evidence we collect to issue the level we do.

Feenie Thu 20-Jun-13 19:31:50

And do you moderate judgements across schools - including said moany juniors? That should shut them up. grin

Not sure what you mean by optional SATs there, AbbyLou? confused

AbbyLou Thu 20-Jun-13 19:26:06

I work in an Infant School in similar circumstances to OP - in fact I though you were talking about my school until the bit about going in monthly to see work. We have many children who achieve Level 3 in Y2 and the Junior School nearly always say they are not. I hope that this is because their criteria are possibly different? Our staff and children work incredibly hard to achieve the results we do and I would feel very insulted if anyone was to say we were inflating results for our own gain! Yes the reported grade is Teacher Assessment but we assess children 6 times a year on pieces of independent writing and they also take optional Sats which influences the teacher's final decision.

Feenie Thu 20-Jun-13 17:45:05

The LEA can't enforce optional SATs, PastBy - hence the name!

Galena Thu 20-Jun-13 10:29:47

Couldn't possibly comment, EJ grin

Dying to know where you worked, Galena!

Galena Thu 20-Jun-13 10:26:26

I have it on good authority that the infant school connected to my old junior school, on more than one occasion:

Teacher assessment gave a child 2a for reading, writing or maths.
Parent came in to see head teacher and said 'I think he/she's a level 3, I'm not happy with teacher assessment.'
Head teacher changed result to 3 against teacher's wishes.

I work in a junior school and the opinion there is that the infant school does inflate their KS1 levels. (But they would think that, wouldn't they?) My DSs went to an all through primary and the feeling there (by some of the parents who happened to be primary teachers elsewhere) was that KS1 levels were, if anything, kept artificially low to enhance progress made by the end of KS2.

I'm sure teachers should be more professional than to do this, but they are only human...

PastSellByDate Thu 20-Jun-13 10:16:20

Thanks Feenie:

Outmoded but being enforced by this LEA. OFSTED haven't come to investigate us yet (like Coventry, etc...) - so maybe it's linked to that.

I suspect it's just that added hurdle - for the school to show progress a bit more independently of their own assessments.

Teacher assessments at our school over last 4 years have been over-optimistic to the tune of 15-25%. No obvious explanation to parents as to why that is or what the school (?governors) are doing to get Teacher assessments closer to actual achievement at KS2.

toomuchicecream Wed 19-Jun-13 20:20:48

I believe that part of the reason for the apparent dip between year 2 and 3 is the time taken to settle in at a new school. Everything is new - rules, expectations, geography, adults, and this all takes getting used to. So I reckon that for the first term or so the year 3 children are working on getting used to the setting - it's only when they've done this that they can start to make progress.

Feenie Wed 19-Jun-13 16:16:46

Many schools now regularly voluntarily take KS2 end of term/ year SATs testing in Y3 - Y5

Actually, PastBy, that's a very outmoded and old-fashioned form of assessment - they haven't even been updated since 2006! We know now that a one off test doesn't tell us very much.

Schools are much more likely to share their teacher assessment data if requested, which should be much more thorough.

Re the inflation - a level 3 is a level 3 is a level 3 in a primary school, because they use school wide assessment criteria, but in separate infants schools the pressure to get good results (since that's all they are judged on) is higher.

As part of good practice, infant schools should be moderating assessments with junior schools to help with this, but sometimes this is not the case. Their judgements are moderated by the LEA though.

PastSellByDate Wed 19-Jun-13 16:04:36

Hi rubyextravagance

I agree with a lot of what has been written in above - teacher assessment at KS1 and because KS1 results benefit Infant-only schools - means that there may be a tendency to 'inflate' scores & I also suspect that the writing assessment differences between KS1/ KS2 are a factor.

You wrote: However, I'm worried that if we need to move again in a few years time my DS might go to his new school (probably not an infants) unprepared if the teachers aren't grading him accurately

and I think you need to relax. If you move - especially if it is outside your immediate area or to a new city/ town - the likelihood is that things will be different there - not just because they assess differently but there is no predicting the mix of backgrounds/ abilities of the pupils in the new school.

As people often post here - middle group at one school (with a particularly strong cohort) may be much higher at another. I think all you can do is review the information published about the potential school, visit it and ask around where you can. Every school has its good and bad points - so all you can do is assure yourself that it is a reasonable choice given all the givens.

Many schools now regularly voluntarily take KS2 end of term/ year SATs testing in Y3 - Y5 - and you are perfectly entitled as a parent to request your child's scores on such tests. It also seems that schools are feeling more and more obligated to give some indication of performance against NC Levels for parents - so that parents can better understand how their child is doing. My advice is if you move schools, try and ensure you make parent/ teacher meetings and keep a close eye on how your DC is doing and what s/he is working on. You'll soon get a sense of whether this is going as you expect or not.

HTH

Galena Wed 19-Jun-13 15:41:40

I worked in y3 in a junior school, and we always felt that the infants inflated their grades. Not only because there is pressure to show good progress, but also because infant results are a result of teacher assessment over time and writing can be done over a long period of time, whereas at KS2, a lot of the writing tasks are timed tests and a child might be capable of a lot more than the isolated test shows.

I strongly feel that a large number of children who came over from the infants with a level 3 were NOT level 3s on entry to KS2. However, the infant teachers would swear blind they definitely were. It's very difficult when your status as a school depends on the results, not to mark generously.

I think it's less of an issue in a primary school, as it is not in their interests to over inflate KS1 results.

caffeinated Wed 19-Jun-13 14:56:05

All the teachers on here say a level 3 at ks1 and ks2 is the same. Same criteria, same expectation. My children are at a separate infants and juniors and all children struggle with literacy in year 3. Making mostly none or for the minority 1 sublevel progress all year. Looking back at what is expected for a level 3 there is no chance my dc was working consistently at level 3 in year 2 which makes the fact that they have stayed 3c all year look like the junior school is at fault but I think the infants embellished their grades.

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