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 !!

Elibean Wed 17-Jul-13 10:39:38

I've no idea on the U/NU front, but personally...I take effort grades as a sort of rough indicator of engagement in the classroom. My dd1 gets 'very good' as opposed to 'excellent' on effort in literacy, and 'excellent' in maths - which I translate as meaning she chats more in literacy and is more excited by maths, but who knows!

I wouldn't worry about them as long as they aren't problematic, iyswim smile

I have a dd at secondary and we only care about effort (as she's not amazing academically) - so to us effort is the most important thing.

At home she's all 'attitudey/can't be arsed/"I don't CARE about maths"' so we always make a big deal of how much effort she puts in at school - and she puts in a lot, all '1's' for effort.

This means a lot to her as it boosts her self esteem and she can feel good about 'trying her best'.

And it sounds like your son is not 'trying his best' - is instead enjoying himself, maybe coasting along on his own brilliance wink

It doesn't matter too much now but just have a wee think about what you hope for him at 16.

There are always things we are going to find easy but if you reward for effort when things are harder maybe you increase resilience?

Thanks Elibean smile

I'm not really worried about them (though can see it could look like I'm "over-thinking" things) - but it did just bring up some thoughts that have been simmering for a while, both about boys v girls in primary, and about the perception of those who are for whatever reason doing less well.
Seems to me that if you're already doing well you get lots of praise and encouragement (including those A for effort grades) but if you find things harder school can be a much less positive place !

One thing your post brings up is that I think you have more grades than we do - ours only has three, A, B, or C.
A for Always working at or near full potential
B for Satisfactory, and
C for Unsatisfactory

I can see this doesn''t give them much room for manoeuvre/ subtlety
I'd be happy with a good or very good as opposed to an excellent for him, but the system doesn't enable that.
So, I do feel he probably "always works near his full potential" so that should be A's. But he got 3 B's for English, Maths, and Science. He's put a lot of effort into all these areas this year, and other project work too, and has made very good progress - level 5's across the board.

yamsareyammy Wed 17-Jul-13 10:55:48

I found effort grades to be most revealing with mine.
Though I think effore grades were only given in secondary dchool?

With each grade of B as opposed to A, I asked them why they had a B with that particular subject/teacher.
And th answers were revealing to say the least.

Anything from, I chat with friend x on that class, to the teacher speaks in a boring way, to I dont like the subject, to somebody or other sits behind me and distracts me, etc etc.
Some of the "problems" could easily be solved in some way.

cory Wed 17-Jul-13 11:05:20

Depends on the child- and on the teacher.

To me, they are what shows that ds' sometimes less than satisfactory achievement grades are not entirely about poor-coryds-he-doesn't-find-it-so-easy (which is what his primary school thought) but more about if-coryds-pulled-up-his-socks-and-stopped-letting-himself-get-distracted-we-might-actually-see-some-results.

It shows ds that he could take some responsibility for his results, and gives clear indications about what needs to be done. It gives more hope for the future.

We have 4 grades which is probably about right: it allows the teacher to show the difference between an ok effort and really hard work.

Ds' secondary have actually been putting him on report several times this year: not because he has been badly behaved as such, but to show him, black on white, how his attitude in every single lesson affects the quality of his work. I am all in favour.

The next thing we could do with is a grade that shows how his lack of concentration/sociability/tendency to distraction affects the grades of the other children in class. wink

You see yams I think schools should be more positive about sociability, friendliness, and talking. IMHO "speaking and listening" should feature much more highly as a valuable skill to be developed.

And the ability to be quiet at all times should be less highly prized !

yamsareyammy Wed 17-Jul-13 11:24:06

It sounds like we dont parent quite the same Juggling.

I agree with corys post.

I personally sent my children to schoool to learn.
Yes they need the valuable skills of learning to be sociable and friendly, but they can equally learn those at home.

As regards being quiet. There are times that teachers need that to be able to teach. But also, putting your hand up in class is needed too.

cakesaregood Wed 17-Jul-13 11:37:41

As teacher on a day off (part time!) , sociable and friendly is important. But when sociable and friendly stops children hearing the instruction first time and the other children getting their work done, then quiet (at the right times!) is vital. But sociable and friendly children are always more fun to teach than silent robots.

I have a similar gripe though: my DS got straight top marks for effort across the board except the one area he has problems with (writing neatly). Now school know why he finds this difficult, and he has worked really hard to get this right, yet his effort wasn't as great...

So, OP, YANBU to think that effort marks are a completely inexact science.

A good opportunity to explain to DCs about how they are perceived???

EarlyIntheMorning Wed 17-Jul-13 11:45:22

I find it useful. Maybe I've got this wrong but I have quite often found that my DS gets top marks on attainment for everything, whilst getting acceptable marks for effort. To me this means he's possibly coasting, finding the work too easy, not being challenged enough and getting good grades for very little effort is something I like to address before they get to secondary.

Hi cakes - I've worked as a teacher too, so I think that does give me a different perspective to parents who've not worked in schools - and contributes to my feeling that it's very difficult to judge the effort of each child in your class.
And your experience with your DS's handwriting effort grade is a perfect example of what I mean cakes - sometimes it seems that the areas they struggle most with, and actually often put in the most effort with, are the ones where they come out with a lower effort grade.
Basically I think if schools are going to attempt effort grades then they need to be given more thought than appears to be the case, and the system should provide enough gradation to allow for some subtlety - at least 5 grades I would think (and not just 3)

Budgiegirlbob Wed 17-Jul-13 12:16:47

I am more interested in the effort grade than the achievement to be honest. I know it can't be an exact science, it is after all the teachers opinion, but we, as parents, are not in the classroom with our children, and can't really know how much effort they are making. I wouldn't be too worried about an average achievement score as long as the effort was good, so I could be confident my DCs were fulfilling their potential.

OP, how do you know that your DS has been more harshly judged than your DD just because he's a boy. Could it be that he genuinely doesn't put in as much effort as your DD? Lots of bright children get good achievement grades without putting in as much effort as they could. Perhaps his grades would be higher if his effort was higher? I know my son's would be smile

DeWe Wed 17-Jul-13 12:17:03

I don't think it's a boy/girl thing as you imply. My dd1 and dd2 are similar to your pair, I would have used very similar discriptions, and dd1 always got A for effort in everything, and dd2 has a mixture of A and B.
And in all honesty, I think that is a fair estimation. Dd1 does work notably harder all the time, whereas dd2 works hard if she enjoys it and she feels like it. It would not have been fair on children like dd1 to give dd2 the top grade too.

When Ds comes to it I shall be thrilled if he gets above a Z for writing though because he hates it. wink

Mind you the first year they scored the effort grades:
A: excellent
B: Very good
C: Good

Then they had the descriptions underneath: C= "Poor or very poor effort generally, homework not done or completed to an unsatisfactory level. Poor or very poor concentration in class, and work often not completed" confused
I think enough parents asked how this description could be then described as "good" so they changed it.

A: excellent
B: Very Good
C: Good
D: Satisfactory
E: Unsatisfactory (please contact the office for an appointment to discuss this)

I suspect E is only given out in extreme cases, or even more likely, not at all, but it at least looks better on paper.

derektheladyhamster Wed 17-Jul-13 12:23:51

My ds1 only ever got 2's and 3's for effort, but was working at a significantly higher level that my ds2 is now working at, who has got straight 1's for effort (1 being the highest).

ds1 spent yr 7 putting in less effort, and it's only been in yr 8 that his effort grades are improving.

So it's not a boy/girl thing, or even a social thing as ds1 was much quieter in school than my 'chatterbox' ds2

But DoWe don't you think it often comes down to just natural differences in personality ? My DD is naturally quieter (at school at any rate !) and my DS particularly sociable. Whether it's fair that this seems to translate to higher effort grades for DD than DS (just because she's a slightly easier student to have in your classroom ?) I'm really not sure is that fair !

yamsareyammy Wed 17-Jul-13 12:31:55

I dont understand where you get the idea from that if a child is sociable, then that somehow translates to lower effort grades.

Pyrrah Wed 17-Jul-13 12:33:26

I have mixed views - mainly based on my own and siblings experiences.

My youngest sister and I always got very good results (we were at private schools so exams every term) but we always managed to appear as if we were not paying attention.

My brother and sister were the exact opposite.

Youngest sister and I went through school branded as lazy and our school reports reinforced this. My brother and other sister were 'star pupils' because they came across as trying really hard.

It got so bad that at one point I asked to go on a 'report card' for an entire term. At the end of every lesson the subject teacher had to sign it and write a comment. At the end of term I had a stack of 12 cards with not one single negative comment on it - all of them were excellent - my school report still said how I was lazy and didn't put any effort in!

So, for me, I would take effort grades with a large pinch of salt.

AlienAttack Wed 17-Jul-13 12:41:39

Honestly, OP, you are coming across as increasingly unreasonable. You seem to have decided, without any evidence that you've shared, that your DS' effort grades are solely down to his being sociable! Of course, giving marks for effort is an in exact science. How could it be otherwise? But other posters have told you how their school does this in a way they have found helpful.

You say you have worked as a teacher. I would have hoped that would have given you some insight that being sociable does not automatically translate to lower effort grades. I'm also particularly disappointed by your gender stereotyping but that's probably for another thread.

boysrock Wed 17-Jul-13 12:51:48

No I dont agree with you. I think your looking for excuses as to why he hasn't got a good mark.

I say this as I have 2 ds in primary. Ds1 is quieter and dyslexic. He got bs for effort apart from reading where I know he really tried and got an a. Ds2 also dyslexicl, very chatty and struggling but a's all round for effort.

Perhaps you meed to be sitting him down and telling him to pull his socks up since he is capable?

Well AA, I know I'm not the only Mumsnetter to raise the question of boys experience at primary school. I think it's fair to say it's quite widely recognised as a somewhat female dominated environment where provision is not always made for the more active learning which may particularly meet the needs of boys.

But anyway the whole thing would probably be solved with a grading system which allowed a proper place for something like ...

"Usually works near his full potential but can be distracted by others at times, and needs to try to complete tasks in good time"

In fact, that's an idea - how about an individualised effort comment, rather than just a rather less personal grade.

Parmarella Wed 17-Jul-13 13:03:16

I would say boys are often treated as "dysfunctional girls", ie girls normal behaviour is the norm.

About these effort grades, not a big deal IMO, B's or A's are fine, nobody will ask him at job interviews what he got.

Yes, I think I've seen that Parmarella - regarding boys treated as "dysfunctional girls"- where girls normal behaviour is considered the norm, as you say.

DeWe Wed 17-Jul-13 13:13:54

It is personality-not a boy/girl thing.

But at the same time it does equate to more/less effort and if the teachers said "well dd2 doesn't put full effort in all the time, but that's her personality, so she still gets an A for effort" that would make a complete mockery of giving effort grades at all.

Dd1 will always put full effort into every lesson. Whether she likes it or not. She has been teased/bullied for the effort she puts in and ignores it and continues working at the top of her effort even when she's not achieving as well as she would like (eg PE). The school could fall down round her and she'd still be found working hard in the middle.
Dd2 will put full effort in when it suits her. But if there's a more interesting conversation (or an interesting bit of paint to pick off the wall) or the subject's a bit boring, or the leaves are falling in an interesting pattern outside... she slacks off.

Personality: Absolutely
But that shouldn't effect the amount of effort they need to put in to achieve the gradings. It would also come back to bite people. Because you'd get to the point where they weren't achieving their full potential, and the teacher would say "if they'd worked instead of socialising..." and you would say "but you didn't give them a chance to change, you always gave them full marks for effort".

It would be like giving a child who struggled with maths an A for achievement because they were born non-mathematical, and when you took that into account they were achieving well considering the ability they were born with.

I think I find it all a bit of a blunt instrument, because really so much of it comes down to the children's personalities. Occasionally you get children who are more disruptive (and maybe deserve an E for effort !), but there again there are usually some under-lying reasons for that.

But I guess the whole effort grade thing is an attempt to take the bluntness away from just having achievement grades, so I suppose that's something !

DS1 and DS2 are in Years 4 and 5 respectively.

DS1 is hard working, behaves impeccably at all times and is a (quiet) joy to have in the classroom. He is fairly bright although probably not going to set the world on fire, but maintains his position near the top of the class through hard work.

DS2 engages in school work if it interests him, but doesn't bother too much if it doesn't. He swans in late and knocks something up quickly. If he is bored he gets disruptive. He is on the g&a register for literacy as his work is so far above that of his peers.

If their school just looked at achievement, DS2 would be praised to the skies, far above DS1. But luckily they look at effort too, so DS1 is quite rightly praised despite not necessarily getting the off the scale academic results that DS2 does.

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 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 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

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 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 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


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 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.

Maryz Thu 18-Jul-13 01:06:57


I know he is trying hard, because all the teachers tell me so. And because his exam results are good.

I don't think that's arrogant.

He has ADHD. Even with medication he finds it hard to sit still. He tries, but finds it hard. And no matter how hard he tries, he is much less likely to sit still than the children in his class who don't have ADHD.

Whereas dd a lot of the time doesn't bother. She sits and daydreams. But she is quiet, so she gets A's. She has said this herself - she benefits from the system, but still thinks it is unfair.

Endofmyfeather Thu 18-Jul-13 04:16:47

Apologies Maryz, my post was directed to the OP. I think it's clear your son's situation is different and absolutely agree with you that the school should be accounting for any SN in their gradings.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Jul-13 05:57:28

Effort at our school is based on what the child puts in to the subject. A student who coasts along, picking up good grades, sitting quietly in class, does what they need to get through will still only get an average mark in effort. A student who steps up and takes a proactive approach in group work, goes out of their way to extend their learning, assists in the learning of other students, asks appropriate questions and incorporates that in to their learning and persists even when things get difficult will get a much higher effort marking. It is a lot more subtle than just looking at behaviour and has nothing to do with grades.

A child with special needs can still receive a top mark for effort, regardless of other accommodations that need to be made. A student with special needs shouldn't be penalised for their needs, but they can still display an appropriate level of interest and enthusiasm for their learning.

SprinkleLiberally Thu 18-Jul-13 06:07:19

When I grade effort it is not just behaviour. I think of engagement in class such as listening or talking about the subject to me or to others. I think about whether they at least attempt homework and classwork. Mainly though, I consider if they try to act on feedback. Then add behaviour into the mix as well. Not perfect but it does mean pupils with both high and low attainment grades can be graded high or low for effort.

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Thu 18-Jul-13 06:09:42

I think effort grades often stand as a synonym for behaviour grades. I was an extremely good girl at school, and used to get 1s for effort in everything; even things where I put in the bare minimum of effort, because I didn't like the subject.

Our school separate behaviour and effort grades, and I often give students different grades for each. Particularly the boy in my form who is respectful, polite, quiet, but puts in virtually no effort whatsoever.

tethersend Thu 18-Jul-13 06:27:45

What of the child with no SEN who never contributes to class, just manages to keep up with the work, is sometimes chatty and has average attainment?

Oh, and his parents are alcoholics, he's had no breakfast, washed his own uniform, taken his siblings to school, done his homework in the playground and is struggling to stay awake as he got no sleep last night due to having no bedding and being cold. But the teacher doesn't know any of this.

How much effort is he making?

neontetra Thu 18-Jul-13 06:28:13

Just have to express how upset I am by some of the gender stereotyping going on upthread. If boys prefer "active" learning, presumably the implication is that girls prefer "passive" learning? These attitudes towards and about young women are so damaging in my opinion. Yes, I am a teacher and sadly I encounter them in the workplace sometimes (and challenge them ardently when I do). Didn't think I'd see them trotted out here though.
As for effort grades, yes they are subjective, but so are attainment grades really - both rely on teacher judgement based on the evidence to hand. I do think that effort grades provide a really important way to celebrate those who always do their best but struggle to make rapid progress for whatever reason. As someone said upthread, when my dd starts school I will care a lot more about her effort than her attainment, and the former are the grades I will reward her for if they are good.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Jul-13 07:16:57

tethersend I would bet my life that the teacher knows about the struggling student. We're not stupid. We actually care about these children. I spend all day with them. I communicate with parents and know what sort of communication I get back. I have two eyes, two ears and a brain, and they're all constantly monitoring my class and picking up the smallest change in their personalities and demeanor.

Students are graded on their effort, not that of other students. It is not a grade that is compared against what other students are doing. What may be effort for one student is completely different for another.

Having read my DS's report and compared it to DD's noting the slightly lower effort grades I start a thread to air the whole interesting and tricky subject of effort grades .... but I'm told I'm "astonishingly arrogant" for having an opinion on the effort my DS makes at school. Another poster says "I just have to express how upset I am by some of the gender stereotyping" - what does this relate to ? To some comments about boys in particular benefiting from active learning approaches (and no this doesn't mean that girls wouldn't benefit too from some variety in teaching methods), and some pondering about whether primary schools are sometimes female dominated environments which perhaps are not always as encouraging to boys as they are to girls.

Well, I still think it's a perfectly reasonable discussion to raise, and it really doesn't have to be all about my DS and my opinion of his effort grades - that was just the spring-board for me, and an example to get things started. Seems to me as well that some teacher's are being rather defensive instead of looking critically at the practice and considering how it could be improved - though I think SprinkleLiberally has obviously given some thought to making these grades as meaningful as possible.

tethersend Thu 18-Jul-13 10:15:36

Midnite, as teachers, we absolutely do not know everything about a child's home life. This is not because we are stupid, but because abusive and neglectful parents can be clever, and get good at hiding things.

I am an advisory teacher for children in care, and have children on my caseload where the school was not aware of the abuse the child was suffering until they were removed from home. This does not mean the teachers were at fault, just that they did not know. I suspect they were therefore unable to accurately grade those children's effort.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Jul-13 10:28:13

No, we don't know everything, but we can be on the look out for flags. Using your example there would be cues - uniform not washed correctly or ironed, child doing his homework in the playground, falling asleep in class, parents not communicating with the school, lack of concentration mid morning. Whilst none of those may on their own may be an indicator of a larger problem, when you start adding them up, then it's worth investigating further. All of that would have me digging a lot deeper, and those are issues that go well beyond what the child scores as an effort grade on their report card. We'd be pretty poor teachers if we ignored all of those aspects of a child's behaviour.

iseenodust Thu 18-Jul-13 10:45:56

It's an inexact science because it's subjective. DS got good effort scores except in RE and music both taught by a retired teacher who just has the class one afternoon a week. It may be down to his attitude, it may be she has standards.

However the class teacher gets a lousy effort for spelling DS's surname wrong on the front of the report.

yamsareyammy Thu 18-Jul-13 10:47:50

tethersend, I am surprised that you are saying that teachers cannot grade effort, more or less correctly.
A bit disrespectful to teachers, I would have thought.

tethersend Thu 18-Jul-13 11:10:44

It really isn't. I am a teacher- I cannot measure effort accurately. This is not a failure on my part.

Teachers are very skilled in some areas, but they are not super human. No human being can accurately measure the effort another is making.

Completely agree tethers.

I think it's very simplistic really.

I kind of think that most children are trying the best they can given the entirity of the environment around them - including their own academic ability and concentration levels, the classroom environment and behaviour of other children, their relationship with the teacher and the teaching methods used, their home environment, and their personality.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 11:48:40

As a teacher you know who is engaged with the lesson and interested and I think it only fair to give them credit for it. Maybe they find it difficult to sit still, maybe they do struggle with handwriting- it doesn't mean they are not making an effort. As a teacher the children that I find dispiriting are those who don't want to learn- and even worse the ones who want to disrupt others. There are children who can pull out all the stops and get the grades when it matters- I can understand their parents being upset when they get A for achievement but less for effort - equally it is nice to acknowledge that someone who will never get a top grade is trying their best.
DS2 is dyslexic- he was never going to get more than average in most subjects but his reports were lovely because we knew, he knew and his teachers knew that he was A for effort. Those A's for effort were what got him a good job in the end, he deserved it. It would have been simple for him to give up and disrupted others and he would have deserved E for effort had he done so.
If you don't agree with the effort grade you can query it.
I found them very accurate and useful for all my DCs.

What I would consider querying exotic is whether at DS's school they might consider introducing more than 3 levels for effort. They go from A - Always working at or near full potential, to B - Satisfactory.

I'm sure if there was a B - good, but sometimes ...
then he'd get that and I'd be a lot happier.

I'm sure his effort in class is above satisfactory, he's made very good progress in all areas this year, and the report is otherwise very positive in all ways. The comments don't appear to match the grade given to me.

But we've only got 4 and a half days left at primary school now - so I might just go and enjoy next week's end of year show and leave it at that !

I haven't ruled out having a word with his teacher though - we get on very well.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 12:12:08

I think A should be excellent, B good, C satisfactory and you only need to worry about D and E.
That is now I have always known it back to my schooldays.

Maybe it is due to OFSTED changing the definition of 'satisfactory'. smile

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 12:12:28

Sorry how not now.

Thanks exotic - as I said DS's report was just a spring-board for some of these thoughts, which as a one time teacher myself have been simmering for a while.

Basically as tethers says, can we really judge effort in children with any real accuracy?

TeenAndTween Thu 18-Jul-13 16:22:11

I like the effort grades, it tells me something.

With DD2 in primary, I learned half way through the year that her teacher thought she wasn't trying too hard (scored a B out of ABC). We were then able to go in, have the discussion, and determine ways to help her concentrate (eg table on her own for maths so she wouldn't get distracted).

DD1 in secondary usually scores attitude 7 or 6 on scale 7 down to 1. When the occasional 5 has popped up we have been able to discuss what she may be doing / not doing that has made the teacher score as such. This can be good for reminding on behaviour (eg not calling out through sheer enthusiasm, remember to ask for extension work if you finish early), but also whether the teacher needs to be prompted that DD is not good at following verbal instructions and needs to see things written down.

So, yes they are an inexact science, but they do tell you what effort the teacher thinks the child is putting in. So it can be used for a discussion with the teacher / your child if you think appropriate. (or ignore if you prefer).

FionaJT Thu 18-Jul-13 16:38:30

I also think effort grades are useful. My dd (Yr 3) who is very proactive in class and top of everything in achievement has received 'average' effort grades in her best subject, Maths, because she genuinely 'could do better'. It is good for her to understand that there are things she can improve on rather than her usual attitude of 'I know all the answers so why should I bother'.
At school I got good grades through hard work whereas my sister could just sail through stuff with the minimum of effort. It made a difference to me when my effort was acknowledged.

curlew Thu 18-Jul-13 16:41:46

Just wondering whether "sociable" is the new "spirited"!grin

iclaudius Thu 18-Jul-13 16:42:42

My attitude for all SECONDARY school age kids is that I'm only really interested in the effort column
If they are trying their best then the outcome is irrelevant !

curlew Thu 18-Jul-13 16:48:28

Seriously though, don't you all know exactly how much effort- or not- your children are putting into their school work? I certainly do!

Wuldric Thu 18-Jul-13 17:01:04

I have found the effort grades awarded to my DCs, both in secondary education to be accurate and perceptive. I know which subjects they are working hard at, from my own experience of their homework and what they talk about. Their teachers have confirmed my own experience.

With both children, there is a clear correlation between the effort and the achievement grades. It does help that they can see that. We have a reward system chez Wuldric and the reward is based on the effort grade. I think that's fair.

"Just wondering if "sociable" is the new "spirited" smile

No, not in DS's case, though IMHO (as his proud Mum) he is both sociable and spirited in the true sense of those words smile

Thanks all, some interesting new thoughts ...

Wuldric Thu 18-Jul-13 17:17:21

The ultimate in cool, per my DCs, is to receive the top grade for achievement combined with the bottom grade for effort smile

So far, this nirvana has not been achieved.

Hmm, looks like my DS is heading towards that Wuldric smile ...

I think I better keep it to myself that it's considered the ultimate in cool !

(an interesting new angle !)

Maryz Thu 18-Jul-13 17:52:08

ds2 does that on a regular basis, according to his teachers hmm

I mean, if he gets good results, he must be listening in class. And doing his homework. Even if he is twitching, rocking his chair and staring out the window.

Another aspect to raise ....

on reflection, and judging from the remarks, it seems to me that the teachers are reading too much into the fact that DS can do very well at times (for example with a tricky maths problem) but doesn't always get as much finished in the time as they are expecting him to during class-work.

Now, I just think that children do work at different rates and not much allowance or accommodation is being made for this fact.

I am in general against this culture of "every child should be getting a level 4"/ doing XYZ that Gove et al. are pandering to. Children are individuals with their own learning needs and trajecteries.
I was pleased at least that with their recent new ideas they did at least say "Every child excepting some with particular learning needs ...."

(They've obviously been reading and taking on board my recent comments here on Mumsnet grin)

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 19:16:24

I have found them very useful.
I would have thought that even if you didn't agree it is interesting to know what impression the teacher has and you can contact them and discuss.

Maryz Thu 18-Jul-13 19:18:56

Yes, that's the idea exotic.

But what do you do when you talk to a teacher, they tell you your child is really trying hard and has improved a lot, but they are still giving him a C because they know he can do better confused

Or that they are giving him a C because he always gets a C.

Or that they are giving him a C because they have to give out a certain number of C's.

It's quite depressing. And yes, I know, it is up to me to fight with the school about their systems and how it applies to my children. But it's hard to get through to all the teachers in a secondary. We get 5 minutes per teacher at the PT meeting, and I really need to use that to talk about his academic work.

Yes, that's a fair point exotic
But I'm really not sure a discussion would be that fruitful.
I think it might just be even more annoying
- I think I prefer to discuss them as a more general issue on here.

For DS I think it's largely about perceptions of work done in time allocated.
And he didn't score that badly - just a rather rubbish grading system - report was actually very good overall.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 19:33:22

At least you know what the teacher thinks-without it you don't.

yamsareyammy Thu 18-Jul-13 19:44:38

Maryz. I dont know if it is the same as where I am, but parents can make appointments anytime with a teacher. They are quite happy about that.
Once, I made 2 appointments with different teachers, a week or two after meeting them at parents evening.

Maryz Thu 18-Jul-13 20:25:11

I would have to kick up a huge stink to meet an individual teacher yams. I have met his year head on a number of occasions, who actually agrees with me but is having difficulty convincing the other teachers.

Hence my escalating it to the head - when I have narrowed my email down to a reasonable length blush

Thanks for starting this thread Juggling - it has given me quite a lot to think about.

cansu Thu 18-Jul-13 20:35:49

Unless you are actually present in the classroom and mark the dc books etc how do you as parents know how much effort your dc are putting in? I just don't understand how you can question the effort grades based on what you think about your dc personalities? surely the person best placed to grade the effort in the classroom is the teacher who has been taking all the lessons. Being sociable is great but it can spill over into doing much less work or actually producing poorer quality work and distracting others. For all those who say isn't it lovely that he likes to talk about his learning etc there will be others who say my dc can't concentrate because the kids on his table chat all the time!

yamsareyammy Thu 18-Jul-13 20:45:40

Thats awful Maryz. And must be immensely frustrating.

My pleasure Maryz - it's very enjoyable and interesting when a thread gets some thought-provoking responses

All the best to you in taking things forward for your DS

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