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IB for writing at end of year 1 even if illegible?

(25 Posts)
rainrainallday Sat 16-Jul-11 18:56:25

I have posted previously regarding my 6 and a half year old son, now at the end of year one. He has been refusing to write at school as he has lost his confidence in writing and has been hiding his work so that it cannot be displayed on the wall as he believes that it is the worst in the class. He is at a state school, ofsted apparently think it is outstanding and he has an NQT.

He refuses to write at home but has just come home with all his work books for the year so we can now see what he has been doing. We cannot read anything he writes because he reverses all his letters and the size and layout is so poor with words split between lines etc. If it were not dated we could not tell which work was done at the start and which at the end of year as there does not appear to be any difference to us.

We were therefore expecting his end of year report to state that he was below average for writing and to offer additional help for next year. His report has graded his writing as a 1B which they state is average. It was titled writing for a range of purposes. This has not been inflated by his reading or other subjects as they have been graded separately.

Surely school would not grade his writing higher than actual just to prevent showing a huge disparity between the grade for reading and writing or for any other reason? Is it possible to be graded a 1B with totally illegible writing or could it perhaps be based on his dictating work? How important should handwriting be to this grade?

Many thanks

IndigoBell Sat 16-Jul-11 19:01:47

Handwriting is one of 9 things that they use to mark writing. And the mark is kind of an average of all 9 strands.......

AF1 – write imaginative,interesting and thoughtful texts

AF2 – produce texts which are appropriate to task, reader and purpose

AF3 – organise and present whole texts effectively, sequencing and structuring information, ideas and events

AF4 – construct paragraphs and use cohesion within and between paragraphs

AF5 – vary sentences for clarity, purpose and effect

AF6 – write with technical accuracy of syntax and punctuation in phrases, clauses and sentences

AF7 – select appropriate and effective vocabulary

AF8 – use correct spelling

Handwriting and presentation

skybluepearl Sat 16-Jul-11 19:45:42

quite a few kids do back to front and off the margin words in year one.

rainrainallday Sat 16-Jul-11 19:49:59

Yes I know many of them reverse occasional letters. He appears to reverse them all and also form most of them incorrectly and we cant read what he is written which I would have thought was worse than average.

teacherwith2kids Sat 16-Jul-11 19:51:14

As an absolutely rough rule of thumb (which of course is varied for any number of reasons) where I teach we say that to reach 1B, a child's writing should not need mediation to be understood. In other words, there may be poor spelling, irregular handwriting and letter reversal, but it should be possible for an adult (reasonably familiar with the child's work but not working with them for that specific piece of writing) to work out what the child meant to say. A child who has to 'read back' what they think they have written, or who has to tell a scribe what the majority of words were meant to be in order for them to annotate the work, can be given at maximum a 1c.

So if you genuinely cannot work out what he has written in the majority of his writing - rather than 'it's hard to read and some letters are missing / reversed so it doesn't look as good as we would like it to' - then 1B seems generous.

geogteach Sat 16-Jul-11 20:22:03

If it is any help DS2 is the same, illegible and has 1b. He has a known problem and has input from ot. Teachers will base part of the judgement on what is written (even if he has to interpret) and things like spelling and punctuation (which once you know what it is supposed to say are often correct in DS2's case). I have asked what will happen for sats where it is obviously marked externally but i have been told he will be fine as teacher assessment plays a part and he can have a scribe but not sure how accurate that is or if i am being fobbed off. At the end of reception ds was refusing to write at all, so i take the fact that there is something to assess as progress! One thing that has worked for him is sitting him on the bottom table (although he does work from the top one) this has stopped him comparing himself to his friends and made him more willing to try, he is also seen as a positive role model in this group which has helped his self esteem.

rainrainallday Sat 16-Jul-11 20:22:16

Thanks for this. Would that be that a teacher should be able to read it rather than a parent as presumably teachers are far more able to interpret the writing?
Would there be a reason to be generous in grade or just an inexperienced teacher?

rainrainallday Sat 16-Jul-11 20:30:58

Thanks geogteach - very interesting - i think the bottom table idea for the self esteem is good but not sure they would put my son there as they have to sit him with the best behaved children apparently and he would make the bottom table even less focused I think. He is certainly not a positive role model for behaviour but some of that can be attributed to boredom and frustration.

My son did do some dictation to his teacher and also some work on keyboard so am thinking she may have graded him from those. When dictating he is fantastic and really needs a full time PA for everything in life!

What is your sons problem if you dont mind sharing - just wondered if it could apply to mine.

teacherwith2kids Sat 16-Jul-11 21:26:04

Teacher to interpret.

And it puts a whole different slant on things if he spells, punctuates, chooses words etc clearly when using a keyboard (so that it is a 'pure' handwriting issue that makes it hard to read, not a combination of handwriting / spelling / composition/ understanding of what a sentence is). It would be quite reasonable to use those typed pieces (bearing in mind use of spellcheck etc) as part of arriving at an overall grade, then he could easily be 1b across the board with a lower mark for handwriting, which wouldn't affect the final result IYSWIM?

Dictation can also give eveidence for many of the AFs. As I said, our 'rule of thumb' is just that, and there are lots of reasons why a writer who is not immediately readable may achieve 1b from a range of evidence.

pinkgirlythoughts Sat 16-Jul-11 22:53:03

And don't forget, although you may find his workbooks hard to read, his teacher reads his work every day, and will be very experienced at deciphering it! It's most likely a lot more easily readable to her than it is to you smile

IndigoBell Sun 17-Jul-11 07:19:17

I think I would be more concerned about his handwriting being so bad, than about what grade it got. What are you and school going to do about improving hishandwriting? Is he on any interventions at school?

Bad handwriting is caused by fine motor skills problems, or gross motor skills problems, or visual perception problems (or all 3 problems) - or bad habits.

So you need to find out why he can't write and then work out what you're going to do to help him.

Now is theright age to be doing something about his handwriting.

rainrainallday Sun 17-Jul-11 09:28:36

Hi Indigo - you are absolutely right that he needs the help now. My only concern is to get him help with his handwriting not about grades.

I had posted regarding the grade because I was concerned that school had inflated his grade to an average so they did not have to offer him any help. I had expected him to get below average for writing and thought that this would then prompt them to offer the necessary intervention. Whereas his report does not mention any help for next year at all and just says he should try harder with his writing.

My plan is to respond to the report mentioning the disparity between his reading and writing and asking what help he should be having with his illegible handwriting and if they want us to get him help outside of school what programme they recommend.

It would appear that it is reasonable from other posters for him to be graded a 1B and I should not be suspicious but I would still have liked them to have mentioned the support he will be offered if any with handwriting.

TheClaw Sun 17-Jul-11 09:38:57

Really interested in your post as one of my DT's handwriting is not so good and am mad at myself for not being more vocal this year in getting her help.

Most letter formation ok but forgets fingers spaces, writes the first and last letter of words and doesn't really use punctuation. Will be very interested what they have to say about this when the reports come out this week (finally!)

Like you I would like to use the report to get some intervention for her (which was mentioned back at Easter at last parents evening but nothing has been done.)

geogteach Sun 17-Jul-11 10:01:48

Ds has low muscle tone, when he was born his hands were as fists and stayed that way till he was about 6 months, basically been playing catch up with motor skills ever since. He has trouble with stuff like using a knife and fork, can ride a bike but not able to operate the brakes etc. The OT sets exercises but school are somewhat hit and miss at doing them. Currently he has a target to complete one piece a of work a week using a keyboard, to try and improve his typing, so he has this as an alternative to writing and he will be reviewed after October half term.

teacherwith2kids Sun 17-Jul-11 10:47:29


The issues you mention are not 'pure' handwriting issues - if letter formation is OK but the child is not encoding all the solunds in a word, and is not punctuating, then my response would be that handwriting isn't the priority for intervention - it is phonics (especially discriminating all the sounds within a word, which could be an auditory problem not a writing one) and punctuation that should be the focus.

Whereas for the OP, if all the sounds are in most words (even if spelt 'phonetically reasonably' rather than correctly) and punctuation is correct in types work, but handwriting issues make this impossible to judge in handwritten work, it is a 'pure' handwriting issue and handwriting should be the focus for intervention.

IndigoBell Sun 17-Jul-11 12:32:58

OP - Be proactive. Talk to school about your concerns.

The 3 main handwriting interventions are Write From The Start, Speed Up and Handwriting without tears

Write from the start is very easy for you to do at home with him. If I was you I'd start doing that with him over the summer holidays.

TheClaw Sun 17-Jul-11 19:24:25

Hi teacherwith2kids

I think you're right. Her phonics are not too bad. If I show her individual graphemes she is ok. There is just no consistency. I think she has auditory processing problems but don't know where to start with it! Her working memory is awful too. For instance, she has to be looking at the person giving instructions and hear them very clearly for them to 'sink' in. I have had her eyes and ears tested this year and all fine. She has said she copies work at school as she doesn't know what she is doing sometimes when she goes back to her desk after carpet time.

Sometimes I feel I am worrying over nothing and she is just a slow starter but my instinct tells me there is someting else. (She is a twin and was prem with IUGR although has generally been on target with most things - she didn't crawl and whilst she is right handed she appears to be left dominant for all other things - using a fork, playing tennis, scooting).

I just don't know if I'm worrying over nothing!

IndigoBell Sun 17-Jul-11 19:42:19

TheClaw - it's very hard to get your hearing tested properly in this country. (A std audiologist pretty much only tests for hearing loss - not other hearing problems your DD may have.)

It would be good if she could do an auditory discrimination test.

Word Wasp & Hornet Literacy Primer is a learn to read / spell program designed to help children with auditory discrimination problems.

I have had absolutely amazing success with Auditory Integration Training - but it's rather expensive - you need to be really worried before it starts to look attractive grin

Jesusgirl Sun 17-Jul-11 19:46:26

I was just going to start a similar post!

My ds 7 going to yr 3 has always had problems with writing. He does form the letters properly and all but I thunk he's just too lazy when it comes to writing. He starts off with neat writing but after 2 lines, gets wobbly and really scruffy. He forgets to put his capital letters, his punctuation, he can't be bothered to take the time to write a decent story. The teacher has expressed concerns all year and they actually got him to join a 'handwriting club'.

I just got his report and he had a level 3 in writing! I was quite surprised by this especially with the teacher's concerns.

I hope this isn't a false picture if his ability and won't prevent him from getting help if he needs it.

2gorgeousboys Sun 17-Jul-11 19:59:50

DS2 who is in year 2 has terrible handwriting. At the beginning of the year we were told that his writing was completely illegible and his handwriting and drawing skills were equivalent to a reception childs hmm.

Between school and home we have worked really hard this year to improve his handwriting, letter formation etc. Daily handwriting practice at home, a sloping surface to write on rather than flat on the table, white boards to practice letter formation on and pens and pencils with a special grip have all helped. We also found that working on fine motor skills at home has helped.

In September DS2 was getting 0/10 in his spellings/times tables tests because the teacher could not read his writing but a flexible teacher who really understood that DS2 was not ''behind'' but needed extra support eg verbal testing, typed work to go on display (for the whole class not just DS2) has brought him on leaps and bounds.

His confidence and ability have come on amazingly this year thanks to a dedicated teacher who could see past the handwriting and in his report on Friday he got a 2A for handwriting grin.

Apologies for the lengthy post but I wanted to say, definately talk to school about it as a united approach is the best way to go IMO.

TheClaw Mon 18-Jul-11 10:16:12

Thanks Indigo - I have followed your DD's progress and look out for your posts full of wisdom!

Will see what the report says and may be back for advice.

blonde79 Mon 18-Jul-11 14:48:42

Jesusgirl I could have written your post. Another level 3 teacher assesment and I can't believe it is accurate.

TheClaw Tue 19-Jul-11 12:39:54

So I'm back with report in hand and apparently she is a 1B in reading and Maths which is fine -

but her writing is.....

wait for it.....

1a !!!

How on earth can this be right? Much of the work I saw at Easter parents evening was illegible.

Occasionally at home she has flashes of inspiration and writes thinks like
'plis lemiy get wose on the pemunt the muniy' (please let me get whats on the pavement, the money). I was over the moon with this lol!

A lot of the time though the writing will be like this 'wey bilenab the song and nubes' (we've been learning about the songs and numbers'

I was actually hoping for a 1C so that I could approach the school for extra help next year. Am I missing something? Maybe I can't make a judgement until I see her workbooks. Not sure whether to make an appointment or leave it now till next year.

rainrainallday Tue 19-Jul-11 16:08:16

Claw - Not an ideal situation to ask for extra help as we were told 1B is average so presumably 1A is high average or above average. As you say you need to see the workbooks to see the work since Easter. Dont think you can ask for help until you see the books but presumably school have no concerns or they would have said so.

We have given our feedback on our sons report and wait to hear if they will offer extra help for handwriting. We have suggested we get him tutoring over the summer if not and have asked what programme they recommend as we cant have his confidence this badly affected.

TheClaw Wed 20-Jul-11 10:33:49

Thanks rain
Still undecided what to do. May just write a comment on report slip? Then keep an eye on her next year. Will try some bribery to get her writing in the holidays too.

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