New levels

(68 Posts)
Marmitelover55 Thu 17-Dec-15 14:10:22

My DD2 is in year 7 and we've just had her first report. She has been graded with levels which equate to the new GCSE grades but I don't understand how well she is doing.

She has got a 5- for maths which looks good as her target for the end of the year is 5 (she is in the top set) but in RE for instance she has a 1 and a target of 5-, so not good. All of her other targets are 4. How much progress should we be expecting in a year? I had just got my head around the old NC levels and think two sub levels was roughly what was expected - is this still the same?

They do seem to have sub levels still as some are + and some -.

These are definitely the new levels and not the old ones. Any help would be great - thanks.

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Dec-15 18:38:15

This is utter nonsense. How on earth are they expecting teachers to give a student a GCSE grade for a course that they haven't even started teaching yet, that they will be sitting in five years?

What will have happened is that teachers will have said 'well a 4 is a C and that's roughly a level 6 and a 5 is roughly a level 7 so if she would have got a level 6 I'll give her a 4.

The fine levelling is just giving an illusion of accuracy that really isn't there.

New GCSE grades are not meant to be used in this way, but the government scrapped levels without replacing them and schools still need to report to parents so you'll see a lot of this 'pseudo level' stuff in the next few years.

Bolognese Thu 17-Dec-15 20:40:52

I wouldn't go so far to say its nonsense, it will just take parents and teachers a few years to get used to the new levels. Even under the old levels you wouldn't really 'know' how a Y7 DC was doing by Christmas.

What I will be looking for is for the school to pick a base line in Y7 and expect to see good progress every report. The actual GCSE equivalent is irrelevant until you get to KS4.

Maybe I am a weird parent but I dont just rely on levels to know how my child is doing, I look in their books, talk to them, help them with homework and have a pretty good idea how well/bad their education is going without a GCSE equivalent 5 years in advance.

Aside from a few minor details, maths is still the same maths we learn 40 years ago, spelling, grammar and Shakespeare hasn't changed in hundreds of years, an oxbow lake is still taught, history hasn't changed in thousands of years. Maybe DNA, evolution and the Big bang are new but I did play catch up. Essentially your child is either an academic, average or struggles, they are progressing or stagnating, behaving or getting detention. What more do you need to know in a year 7 report?

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Dec-15 20:56:29

Of course it's nonsense. No one knows what a grade 4 or 5 will look like because no one has actually sat the exams yet. The grade boundaries for a 4 won't be set until after the exam, and will be set so that the same proportion of students who currently get a C or higher will be awarded a 4 or higher. The grade 5 I think in the first couple of years will be interpolated between a 4 and a 7 (the current proportion getting an A or higher will get a 7 or higher), but in the future is supposed to be set against some as-yet undefined international benchmark.

I'm currently teaching Y10 the new maths GCSE. I have no idea whether they will get a 4 or a 5 because I have no idea what the national picture is.

So the idea that teachers could say with any accuracy that a Y7 is currently working at a '5-', especially in subjects apart from maths and English where the new GCSE hasn't even yet started is utter nonsense.

Molio Thu 17-Dec-15 21:00:23

Yes I agree with noblegiraffe. It is nonsense. And unnecessary too. Why do Y7 parents need a prediction for GCSE even if the levels were tried and tested? It's a really unhelpful way to grade - calculated to demoralize.

Marmitelover55 Thu 17-Dec-15 21:03:51

Thanks for the feedback. I know from parents evening that she is doing well but I can't really workout how challenging her targets are and so how well she is doing compared to those. With DD1 I knew that level 6/7 in year 7 was good but don't have the knowledge/experience to gauge progress in this new system.

Bolognese Thu 17-Dec-15 21:24:57

Its not complete nonsense. If a schools wants to give a child a level so they can track progress and set targets then it is totally valid. The schools level won't be exactly aligned to the new GCSE levels but in year 7 that's not needed.

Maybe from a teachers point of view they cant be pin point accurate in relation to GCSE prediction 5 years in advance but the op was partly asking about how well her DC was doing in general.

If a teacher cant determine how good a child is in core subjects then they aren't a very good teacher. As a parent I could figure out if a child is doing well/bad at age 11/12, its not rocket science. The mapping of levels to GCSE at this point irrelevant, most parent just wants to know if your child is progressing and how are they in relation to their local peer group.

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Dec-15 21:39:24

If a teacher cant determine how good a child is in core subjects then they aren't a very good teacher.

But that isn't what they've been asked to do. They've been asked to give that child a 'working at' and a target GCSE grade for the end of Y7, when no one, and I mean no one knows what that looks like.

So teachers are just sticking their fingers into the wind to see which way it is blowing while wearing heavy gloves, and parents are being told that this is somehow meaningful.

I could tell you how good a child is in my subject in Y7. I could say 'if they continued on the same path they'd be expected to get a C in old money. But a lot happens in 5 years. Could I give them a new GCSE grade for it? Could I give them a fine graded new GCSE grade for it? No. There's going to be a lot of fudging and converting between old levels and old GCSE grades but at the moment it's fiction.

Marmitelover55 Thu 17-Dec-15 21:50:26

My elder DD is in year 9 at the same school. Her report was a mixture of the old NC levels and new levels - the new ones being for subjects where she has started the GCSE course already I.e. Maths and the sciences.

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Dec-15 21:54:38

The even more stupid thing is that different schools are doing different things so now if you want to come on MN and say 'my child got a blue star on their report, what does that mean?' no one will be able to help you. Parents will be less informed than before.

IguanaTail Thu 17-Dec-15 21:55:24

It's total fiction. We have no clue how to benchmark against something which does not yet exist. Criteria is woolly. And the government haven't had a hand in massaging up or down the grades to their pleasure yet, so it's genuinely anyone's guess.

EvilTwins Thu 17-Dec-15 21:56:21

It IS nonsense - all of it. Teachers are not mind readers. Giving a GCSE grade, or equivalent at yr 7 is utter bollocks. But we've got to the point where teachers not only have to give levels termly but we gave to guarantee that they are "accurate", analyse the numbers, state interventions for those not reaching a set standard and evidence and track the interventions. It's all nonsense, and it teaches kids that they don't need to take responsibility for their own work.

IguanaTail Thu 17-Dec-15 21:57:10

Totally agree Noble. Or if a child transfers to your school. "Jamie is currently Silver plus in English, Bronze minus in Maths and Ruby in Art."

Ok........

Hassled Thu 17-Dec-15 21:57:13

We don't have that system at all - we have Secure, Confident etc - and then the slightly baffling "Beyond". I want there to be an Infinity level.

kjwh Fri 18-Dec-15 09:39:22

How can it be nonsense? If a pupil is performing very well, consistently getting top marks in tests and written work, then it's perfectly sensible and right to forecast a 8 or 9 at GCSE. If they're a bog standard average pupil, getting good enough marks, then a 4/5/6 or if they're struggling then a 2/3.

Of course, no one knows what the actual GCSEs will look like, but that's not the point is it? The point is that the teacher knows how the pupil is performing against their peer group now, and can make the assumption that if they continue to perform in the same way, then they're likely to get such a grade at GCSE.

noblegiraffe Fri 18-Dec-15 10:07:24

Because if a student is getting top marks in a low performing school then suggesting that they will get a 9 which only the top 3% of the country will get is rubbish. Similarly being in the bottom set in a grammar school will be very different to a bottom set in a comp. How they perform against their peer group is not the same as how they will perform nationally.

noblegiraffe Fri 18-Dec-15 10:08:47

And also saying 'they'll get a 4/5/6 at GCSE' is vague enough to be reasonable. Saying 'they are currently working at a 5-' is just bobbins.

triceratops1066 Fri 18-Dec-15 10:34:15

From what we are told I would say at a rough guess add 3 to 4 to the level in year 7 (assuming your dd continues working at the same level). I'm not v keen on attaining a target by Christmas as some boys in particular might decide not to bother working hard... Also suggests the target is wrong.

The targets appear to be a mix of sats and cats and are based on the average for the school year so are also not particularly helpful for an individual child. Also they take sats in maths and english and then extrapolate to other subjects even PE...

kjwh Fri 18-Dec-15 11:18:41

Because if a student is getting top marks in a low performing school then suggesting that they will get a 9 which only the top 3% of the country will get is rubbish. Similarly being in the bottom set in a grammar school will be very different to a bottom set in a comp. How they perform against their peer group is not the same as how they will perform nationally.

But the teachers know where their school sits in the country - they know if it's a low performing school or a grammar don't they? They know, from previous years, how their typical cohort perform in the GCSEs and use that information to forecast how current pupils are likely to perform.

Last year, our school gave results based on the A* to E range. This year it's 1-9. To me, it's just the same. For subjects where he got A* last year, our son is getting 7s, 8s and 9s this year. Where he was getting A's, this year it's 6s, 7s and 8s. Surely it's just a matter of saying a top A* is now a 9 whereas a low A* is now an 8. Surely the thought process behind giving either an A* or a 8 or 9 is the same?

At the end of the day, the grades are decided after the results are in, so regardless, it will still be the same percentages in the different grade boundaries. If the new exams are a lot harder, the results will be lower and the grade boundaries reduced accordingly.

kjwh Fri 18-Dec-15 11:20:48

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

Are we saying that kids are given a 5 today on the basis that's what they'd get if they took the GCSE today, i.e. completely ignoring the subjects that they've not yet studied and that they've got x more years of study, so would expect a 6 next year, a 7 the year after etc.?

Surely they're not graded like that? That really would be crazy!

dingit Fri 18-Dec-15 11:30:53

The old grade predictions in year 7 were nonsense. Dd was predicted an E for Re, and got an A*.

noblegiraffe Fri 18-Dec-15 11:39:26

I know that my school is a high performing comp, but I've no idea how my top set pupils compare to top set grammar - I've never taught in one. How would I be able to say whether my student is an 8 or a 9?

And the ridiculous thing is that the 9 will be set as the top 3% nationally of students who sit the GCSE. If selective private schools decide en masse to do IGCSE instead and take the hit in the league tables, then that means that the top students at other schools are more likely to get a 9. If the selective private schools go for GCSE then they will take a higher proportion of the 9s, so fewer of my students will get them.

noblegiraffe Fri 18-Dec-15 11:40:31

Are we saying that kids are given a 5 today on the basis that's what they'd get if they took the GCSE today

Yep, the OP is being told that her DD would get a '5-' today in maths. Presumably that's why she's only getting a 1 in RE.

EvilTwins Fri 18-Dec-15 15:23:28

But the teachers know where their school sits in the country - they know if it's a low performing school or a grammar don't they? They know, from previous years, how their typical cohort perform in the GCSEs and use that information to forecast how current pupils are likely to perform.

Of course teachers don't know where their school sits in the country - that's thousands of schools - why would any teacher have that information at their fingertips? And there is no such thing as a "typical" cohort - we're dealing with individuals here, not clumps of data.

PiqueABoo Fri 18-Dec-15 16:53:15

Here's a new related and fascinating (in a very horrible way) story re. Ofqual proposing to um.. normalise grades between subjects to deliver 'inter-subject comparibility'.

www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/ofqual-considers-gcse-and-a-level-overhaul-could-ration-top-grades

"This summer 56 per cent of entrants for A-level further maths gained an A or A* grade, compared to 16 per cent in drama and design and technology. The Ofqual proposal would iron these differences out."

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