AIBU to think that Effort grades are almost meaningless ?

(90 Posts)

DS has just got his end of Y6 report and it's all good really - phrases like "intellectual curiosity", "creative flair", and "an enthusiastic and friendly member of the class" - so, lots to be proud of and be pleased with.

However he's only been given B's for effort - which translates as "satisfactory" where A's would represent "always working at or near full potential". His sister nearly always got A's for effort. Now they are both pretty much equally bright and both getting similarly good results, but DD is a bit quieter whilst DS is, as the report says, "a naturally sociable boy". The other issue, which they both apparently have, is getting enough done in the time available. I really don't think for either of them this is due to any lack of effort. DD for example has been recognised as having mild dyslexia.

AIBU to think that my sociable boy has been a bit hard done by regarding his effort grades & that schools don't really "get" boys and tend to treat them slightly harshly compared to the girls. Also that anyone struggling at all tends to be given a lower effort grade than those for whom academic success just comes more easily (though this not so much of an issue with DS, though he does find it hard to get enough done in the time, especially with the distractions of friends around him)

And basically that grading effort is a very inexact science which is very difficult to judge fairly ? - and the whole thing is just a bit pants !!

Seems that it works better with your two then Jemima

When I look at my two though I just see two children with a similar approach to their work, similarly bright and engaged, with similar good results, but with slightly different personalities (which seem to me to be the main reason for DD's slightly better effort grades)

Even personality wise it's just that DD is quietly sociable whilst DS more actively so.

Taffeta Wed 17-Jul-13 14:47:58

The effort grades were a very good indicator for me last year that DS was bored and had taken a step back. With some focus and attention they are way back where they should be this year.

Also he is very competitive and stressy about results so I like to focus more on the effort scores than the test results. At age 9 it's more important to me that he's making an effort and is engaged. I'd be horrified not to get effort scores for these reasons.

Yeh, perhaps he's ready for the new challenges of secondary school Taffeta which is just as it should be - maybe that's a good way to look at it smile

Fuzzymum1 Wed 17-Jul-13 14:55:58

Ours are graded Excellent, Good, Variable and Needs improvement. I know teachers have certainly graded children between excellent and variable and as they said a 'needs improvement' wouldn't come as a shock to parents as they would already be in discussion with the parent about strategies for improving behaviour/effort.

AlienAttack Wed 17-Jul-13 14:59:31

I love that your comment about your DS's effort says he is "distracted by others"! So you're confident that his "sociability" doesn't lead him to ever distract others himself? And now you say its because he is "ready for the challenges of secondary school". Teachers really can't win. So many threads on MN wanting constructive feedback. You have received some on your DS (admittedly a grade which can only be a signpost rather than detailed) and you're choosing to ignore it because you know better.

tethersend Wed 17-Jul-13 15:00:32

Effort grades are at best completely erroneous, and at worst very damaging to a child's self-esteem. They are almost always inaccurate.

The only person capable of accurately assessing a child's effort is that child.

Too often, effort grades are used as a 'compensation' for low-achieving students, or those with SEN; but what message does a low attainment and high effort grade actually send out? You are trying your hardest but you have performed badly or No matter how hard you try, you will only achieve this grade. They can end up communicating exactly the opposite message they were trying to.

I wrote my thesis on effort grades when I was training to be a teacher, and have seen nothing in my subsequent career which suggests to me that effort grades are anything other than a meaningless and inaccurate arbitrary 'mark'. Nothing more than teacher guesswork.

In short, they are a load of old bollocks grin

I'm so glad you agree with me tethers smile

AA - I'm sure the sociability and tendency to distraction works both ways with his friends - I didn't say otherwise !

And yes, it could be I do know better than his teacher regarding the effort he puts in. I've almost certainly given it more thought than she has as she has 30 x 3 such assessments to make, whilst I have my two DC to compare.
And I have seen my DS in the classroom too as it happens.

Anyway it's not a big deal, he still got an excellent report, and a B (satisfactory) for his effort grades. It's just food for thought t'is all.

Galena Wed 17-Jul-13 15:35:44

Our head teacher refused to introduce effort grades onto the reports as he said only the child can truly measure the amount of effort they are putting in.

tethersend Wed 17-Jul-13 15:47:59

I like the sound of your head, Galena..

Maryz Cote D'Ivoire Wed 17-Jul-13 15:58:13

I used to think they were a good idea.

Now I think they are a load of bollocks. dd gets A's all the time, with no effort at all, as she is naturally quiet in class.

ds2 (who has ADHD) tries his hardest in every class, but is constantly getting C's (they have an ABCD system), because his teachers classify him as "messing". He does 14 subjects, and 3 C's puts him on report. So he has been on report all year hmm

Even dd recognises that she gets rewarded every month for doing nothing, ds2 gets punished every month for trying his best.

I have had teachers say to me "he's much better than he was and I know he is trying, but he's still below average behaviour wise so I have given him a C again" - how is that fair? It doesn't matter what he does, he will always have at least three teachers think his behaviour is "below average" so he has got to the stage where he is thinking of giving up trying altogether.

Maryz Cote D'Ivoire Wed 17-Jul-13 15:59:40

And by the way, ds gets to every class, always does his homework, and works hard. He just finds it hard to sit still.

There are kids in his class who do little or no work, don't bother with homework, but because they find it easy to sit quietly they float under the radar and get A's across the board hmm

tethersend Wed 17-Jul-13 16:12:50

Maryz, if your DS has a diagnosis of ADHD, then the school need to make reasonable adjustments for him under the Equality Act 2010. They seem to be showing him unfavourable treatment due to his disability (you are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities). Would the school put a wheelchair user on report for repeatedly failing to climb stairs to his lesson? Or would they move his lesson to an accessible classroom? It should be no different in your DS's case, they have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments and not penalise or treat him unfavourably due to his disability.

Effort grades should not be synonymous with behaviour, the monitoring of which is a completely different thing. A child who upends a table may be putting in a huge amount of effort not to punch the teacher in the face, but this would not make upending a table acceptable behaviour.

tiggytape Wed 17-Jul-13 16:20:10

Effort grades are of course totally subjective and if a child sits up straight, doesn't chat and gets all the answers right then (boy or girl) it is probable the teacher attributes this to good effort rather than a quiet personality and natural academic ability. Actually I have a DS who is a lot like that so I’d disagree about it being a boy/girl thing – there are plenty of naturally quiet boys in schools and plenty of naturally chatty, sociable girls.

However, regardless of attainment, if a child is distractible and distracts others, then a system which identifies this and not just academic outcomes is helpful. Speaking and listening is valued in school but so is the ability to sit still, listen and resist the urge to chat when required. Even if you have a very academic child, good study skills are something you’d want to encourage or at least know about because they will impact on future schooling. Secondary schools for example take a much stricter approach (we’ve found) to the children who chat and mess about – they expect Year 7 children to be past that really. I’m not saying that all of them are but it is the expectation and they come down much harder on it than primary schools

3 grades isn’t enough to differentiate or indicate a concern though – ideally you need a scale of at least 5 potential grades. Going from Excellent to satisfactory is too much of a jump so I agree you probably can’t glean much from being given all B’s

ninah Wed 17-Jul-13 16:23:58

yanbu
dd got the lowest effort mark for the subject she struggles most with, and def tries hardest in! go figure

Wow, an actual yanbu - thanks ninah thanks

loopydoo Wed 17-Jul-13 18:36:24

I completely agree and don't think you are BU.
DD had her report card and got the highest mark for French yet got a B - even though she is always putting up her hand to answer (teacher says she didn't notice) and has actually done more French than her peers. Teacher said when she works it out she starts off giving them all B and then decides whether they should go up or down?? (she's a maths teacher btw).

Then, in maths, which she hates, she got A for effort even though she was consciously trying to fail her maths SATS in order to get moved down!!

Thanks loopy - your comments add to my feeling that effort marks are not very rigorously applied. Either someone is doing well so they must be putting in the effort, or they aren't doing so well but are "trying hard" - I think that's about as far as the thinking goes really !

Or - like my DS they are doing well but can be a little chatty, and don't always get things finished (not necessarily related to the sociableness in DS's case)
Anyhow, for whatever reason, don't quite fit in with the accepted model for perfect student - quiet girl who always puts her hand up to answer questions ?

monkey42 Wed 17-Jul-13 22:06:56

my ds1 has moved to grades 1-5 for effort and a-e for classwork. He gets marks right across from a-c depending on subject but with the odd exception the effort grade simply matched the 'achievement' grade, ie a1, b2 etc. This was also my own experience so i tend to take it with a bit of a pinch of salt unless there is a big discrepancy eg a c1.. i guess it depends on your school.

Maryz Cote D'Ivoire Wed 17-Jul-13 22:12:57

I've tried that argument, tethers. And it is accepted by his head of year, but the individual teachers are still on the "if we let him away with being jiggy everyone else will follow".

I'm going to really fight it next year.

Good for you Maryz - if that's the outcome from this thread then I'm glad I started it !

Maryz Cote D'Ivoire Wed 17-Jul-13 22:20:13

The thing is, Juggling. He has an actual diagnosis (he only got it last year at the age of 14 and some of the teachers don't actually believe it yet hmm) but there are many kids who really struggle who don't have a diagnosis.

They are punished regularly for trying their best. While others are rewarded for doing what they find easy.

It really is unfair.

I have drafted about ten emails to the head, and am deciding which version to send grin

ljny Thu 18-Jul-13 00:45:45

YANBU

Sounds like the schools are actually marking behaviour, not effort. It would be better all round if they admitted it.

As someone's HT said above, only the child really knows how much effort they're making.

These marks are so disappointing to a child who's trying really hard at a subject they find difficult. And a busy teacher doesn't really see the effort - just the results.

Effort should be left to the comments section. Much more meaningful.

Maryz Cote D'Ivoire Thu 18-Jul-13 00:49:12

Yes, ljny. That's a great point. I will add that to my email.

They aren't marking ds's effort. If they were they would see that he goes to every class, he has his books, he does his homework, he does well in exams.

He just can't sit still.

Endofmyfeather Thu 18-Jul-13 01:01:42

Unless you are in your DS's class every day, how on earth can you comment on his effort? Surely that's even more arbitrary than a teacher assigning a grade based on some visible evidence.

You're basically saying you know best without any evidence at all. I find this degree of arrogance astonishing.

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