Please help me understand progress without levels (and 'level' this writing)

(58 Posts)
KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 13:33:43

DS2's school don't seem to have a category lower than 'making expected progress' and it is very difficult to work out whether the gap between DS2 and peers is widening or whether his rate of progress is to be expected and is usual for him. The last level I have is 3a in May 2015 (year 4). I am guessing that teachers use the same descriptors to work out national curriculum points even if levels have been officially abandoned.

So, how would you 'level' this piece of work? Other DC read out their versions at a recent parents' assembly so I have some idea of what his peers are writing.


OSETmum Sun 03-Jul-16 13:44:10

It's a bit hard to read sorry, as it's quite faint but I'll have a go. Unfortunately the difference between the bottom of 'expected progress' and the top of 'expected progress' is huge and there's no point referring to the old levels as the goal posts have moved so much. This writing would be towards the bottom end of expected because the grammar isn't great and there is lots of punctuation missing. He does use a good range of sentence starters though.

OSETmum Sun 03-Jul-16 13:45:06

Oh and I forgot to add, no the descriptors are not the same as before.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 13:58:52

Do you have a link to the new descriptors? How much progress is expected? I know in old money it was 2 sub levels in an academic year but now I have no idea. What does the bottom end of expected progress actually mean?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 14:09:46

Do you mean that the writing is at the bottom of what is expected at the end of year 5, or that progress is at the bottom end of expected progress given his previous assessment?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 15:48:38

Level 3a was above expectation at the end of year 4. I think that I need to know if he is now performing lower. I have been paying for a private tutor for the past year - how has this resulted in his shift from above expectation to the bottom end of what is expected? This period also reflects an increase in statemented provision to 20 hours dedicated support. So I am struggling to understand how an increase in support has led to attainment at the bottom end of what was expected when he had above average attainment before the increase. confused

AThousandTears Sun 03-Jul-16 15:57:42

Higher ability in old levels is now only expected which explains the shift.

I'd say he has made expected progress to remain within the expected band.

spanieleyes Sun 03-Jul-16 16:02:37

Quite simply, the expectations for each year group have improved considerably. So what was previously above average is now only average, or even below average, so the equivalent to a 3a would definitely NOT be above expectations at the end of year 4. Nor are the descriptors based on the same elements. the new standards are much more focussed on grammatical accuracy, spelling and handwriting rather than description and detail as in previous years. so a child who lacks the technical accuracy would fall even further below the "expected"

mrz Sun 03-Jul-16 16:13:59

Do you think his writing has improved this year?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 16:25:45

I didn't realise that the ability to measure attainment, and more importantly, progress had been reduced to such a level. I have read some posts from parents of high achievers who are lost, but the inability to accurately measure progress affects DC with SEN far more and with great effect - unless 'adequate progress' is no longer a criteria used by LAs for statutory assessment of DCs needs. How is this progress to be measured?

Is expected progress meant to be within 1 standard deviation from the norm? Isn't this a huge category between about 16 and 82 percent of all DC. This is not helpful for parents or their DC. There is a difference between 20% and 70%.

Do you think these new definitions will be adopted at A level? We don't need more than two classes of degree - expected level and above expected level. Why did nobody think of this before?

Mov1ngOn Sun 03-Jul-16 16:32:19

I don't get the A level reference. There's lots of grades at A level.

I don't really like the current grades. But I didn't like the sublimely nonsense before. I dont like constantly grading them in general.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 16:37:52

Spaniel - the rules may have changed but ds2 is still ds2 - he has not metamorphosed in response to policy changes. The top achievers are still the top achievers. They have not been usurped by a group whose achievements were previously unrecognised. So if potential level 6 ers are no longer the high achievers, who is?

Mrz - ds2 still does not achieve year 1 requirements wrt letter formation, spacing and legibility. In the past this has been ignored but it seems will be increasingly important in terms of assessment. Perhaps ignoring it has meant less support but I am biased as I think ICT aids make writing by hand anachronistic.

It would be nice to be kept in the loop.

bojorojo Sun 03-Jul-16 16:41:58

Has your school not had an information evening on the new curriculum and progress without levels? I would ask for one urgently. Schools are using all sorts of methods to record progress and sometimes the judgements as to whether a child has attained an element of the curriculum is highly debated. The tutor will probably not be in tune with what the school is doing so I would ask the school. And, yes there is working "below" expected. So your school is telling you porkies. Go and see them urgently and ask for precise details about their assessment and reporting of his work and progress. If you don't know what is in the curriculum for his age, and what is expected, how do you know if the tutor is value for money or not?

oldbirdy Sun 03-Jul-16 16:46:28

Most schools round here have linked expected levels with the curriculum for each year, and then whether they are solid, emerging or mastered. So for example a child in year 5 who is behind might be 'Y3 emerging' or 'y1 mastered' or whatever. So it's certainly possible for schools to do this.

Re an increase in support- have you read the Blatchford review? It found that many TAs were not given sufficient direction and sen kids with high support had less interaction with the teacher, so TA support in and of itself was not correlated with improved attainments; in fact the opposite. How is your son's TA used?

His writing is IMO a bit behind for year 5. But not really bad.

mrz Sun 03-Jul-16 16:50:35

There are only national expectations for the end of each key stage so if your child is in Y5 they will be assessed by whatever system the school is using. Under the new curriculum schools are free to adopt their own measure of assessment so in theory there could be ten or a hundred or a thousand steps progress not one (the system we use has six).

I asked if you thought your child's writing has improved because the piece you've posted wouldn't be at the level you were told last year.

mrz Sun 03-Jul-16 16:52:06

New end of key stage expectations would require him to meet all criteria in Y6

bojorojo Sun 03-Jul-16 17:04:56

Where I am a governor, we do not link with previous years. The children are not taught y3 work in y5, so that is pointless. We use a computer based system with teachers making judgements about what the child can do. There is a series of statements and judgements match work completed and tested against the statements for the curriculum. Where a child has not met the statement, they are "working towards'. Where they have exceeded, they are given additional work but it is an extension of that year's curriculum. If they are below, they are given extra help to access the curriculum for that year and appropriate work is given to those children. As you might expect, progress is variable but parents have been given information on how to understand our new progress indicators and we never link to a previous year. The teachers have only taught the curriculum appropriate to the year, not below or above.

I didn't think this was an old 3a either. We have had several children join us whose previously judged levels are a work of fiction. All our judgements have been moderated by external advisors this year so we feel we are accurate in our judgements. Many schools have not done this so inaccuracies may be rife. Unfortunately Sats will find this out in y6.

spanieleyes Sun 03-Jul-16 17:22:10

Spaniel - the rules may have changed but ds2 is still ds2 - he has not metamorphosed in response to policy changes. The top achievers are still the top achievers. They have not been usurped by a group whose achievements were previously unrecognised. So if potential level 6 ers are no longer the high achievers, who is?

But the top achievers, especially in writing, are no longer the top achievers because we are now measuring different things. we are no longer looking for creativity and imagination, we are looking at accurate use of the subjunctive mood and semi-colon. It's like saying that a masterchef champion is now being judged on their ability to make beans on toast! I now have children who are not the "best writers" but because they are the most technically accurate ( and have joined handwriting and can spell accurately the year 6 statutory word list) are deemed to be exceeding-whereas my dyslexic, dysgraphic child whose writing would tug at your heart strings is "pre-key stage" because he can't spell accommodation! ( well, not quite but that's the general gistsad

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 17:27:09

Mrz - I would have to say that writing has not improved since last year. The piece I posted was written over two one hour lessons. I know it wouldn't be levelled at 3a (or vanilla equivalent) DS2 did not want support but what he has written doesn't even make sense. There is no plot, no event, no beginning, middle and end sad.

Things were already hard enough in terms of actually getting provision - it takes months even when recommended by EP, SALT, OT. Now it is harder. DS2 is caught in the middle of 'permanent reform' (for those that know their Gramcsian theory of permanent revolution) grin

irvineoneohone Sun 03-Jul-16 17:37:37

If he likes typing, can you separate writing accurately by hand, and creative writing by typing?
When he writes by hand, concentrate on letter formation, spacing, size etc., but let him write freely with imagination by typing?
That way, you can try to achieve both goals of writing, creativity and accuracy?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 17:54:26

Spaniel - that is quite the most depressingly realistic comment I have read.

DS2 is a writer not an editor. He has an amazing understanding of the structure of language and this means that he can break the 'rules'. But he can't be arsed to correct or do things as expected.

His class were set a task to describe what was in the fur of wolves in a story - hoping for alliteration. Some DC said 'mud ' and some said 'fleas'. DS2 said 'fear'. My mind was flooded with memories of dogs with hackles raised. This is so wrong, grammatically, but so emotively right.

mrz Sun 03-Jul-16 18:01:28

Fear would be grammatically correct and I'd be more than happy if a child produced that.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 18:11:11

The aim was for noun with alliteration if possible. DS2s answer is going beyond that and selecting a word that is both a noun and a verb and using it in writing to evoke emotional response.

So is he above or below expectations?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 03-Jul-16 18:12:09

The aim was for noun with alliteration if possible. DS2s answer is going beyond that and selecting a word that is both a noun and a verb and using it in writing to evoke emotional response.

So is he above or below expectations?

mrz Sun 03-Jul-16 18:20:08

It's impossible to make judgements based on a single piece of work and as I said there are no national expectations for Y5

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