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Not sure if school is assessing DD properly

(29 Posts)
chicaguapa Wed 26-Sep-12 13:13:08

DD(10) is now in Y6. She moved to this school at Easter in Y3.

A bit of background: DD was at level 3 across the board at the end of KS1 (end of Y2). Her old school (and pre-school) had requested Educational Psychologist assessments at the beginning and end of KS1 to assess her ability (and challenges) and she was assessed at being various years ahead of her chronological age.

At the end of Y3 she was assessed at level 4a in Literacy and 4c in Maths. At the end of Y4 she was assessed at level 4a in Literacy and 4c in Maths.
At the end of Y5 she was assessed at level 4a in Literacy and 4b in Maths.

DH went into the school at the end of last term to speak to the Y5 teacher about our concerns re DD's lack of progress as we had previously put Y4 down to it not being a good year for her, but hadn't expected Y5 to be a non-starter too. I had a thread about this before, but the teacher pretty much said DD had probably been incorrectly assessed at the end of Y3 and we should make sure she progresses in Y6.

The HT at the old school has always taken a personal interest in DD's academic development and wants to be kept updated with how she's getting on etc. I have told him all of the above. He feels we are right to be concerned about her lack of progress and that she should really be acheiving level 6 at the end of KS2.

Fast forward to last week. DD produced a short piece of free writing in literacy that she was very proud of. She had used short sentences to create tension in her story as it neared a scary bit and had deliberately avoided using adjectives to conceal the identity of the protagonist until the end of the piece as it was an animal and she had wanted the reader to think it was a person.

At the weekend she told us she had been taken out of class as part of a group of 5/6 children to 'work on improving their stories as they were bland'. She was very disappointed to be told this.

DH has looked at the success criteria for various levels for literacy and can see that if the teacher had been looking at level 5 criteria, from what DD has told us about the story, it wouldn't have ticked many boxes. But the story did contain elements of level 6. I also realised that the Y4 teacher had pointed out elements of level 5 attainment in DD's literacy work during parents' evenings. It makes me wonder if they have been incorrectly assessing her work and/or giving her the wrong targets which is why they can't show that she has been improving.

Over the weekend, DD had to write something for her homework. So DH looked at the level 5 criteria and sat with DD and guided her towards acheiving that in every aspects of her work. But my question is why is the teacher/ school not doing that? Especially if DD is showing as having made NO progress whatsoever since she has been at that school and we have brought it to their attention! Should they be relying on parents to download the criteria themselves and work with the DC to acheive it?

What do you think?

DeWe Wed 26-Sep-12 13:49:08

I'm not a teacher, but by the sound of it the essay she wrote, whereas may have been a wonderful piece of creative writing, may not have "ticked" many attainment levels.

In my knowledge, which may be corrected by someone who knows more. To get level 5, she needs to be using connectives (which she may not have by using short sentences), adjectives, lots of different punctuation, different starter words, and good vocabulary.

I observed that my dd1 got this off to a fine art. She would carefully use all the connectives, punctuation, vocab, starter words etc. she had listed. The essay would often read like it too wink but she would achieve the levels because she ticked the boxes.
Dd2 whose essays are full of imagination and often more interesting as a reader, doesn't score as high as she thinks about the story and not about the structure.

chicaguapa Wed 26-Sep-12 19:44:44

Thanks. You would expect the teacher to tell DD what she has to do to progress, particularly as DD hasn't done so for 2 years! She needs to know what boxes to tick!

cansu Wed 26-Sep-12 19:54:55

Literacy is about more than ticking the boxes. I think you should focus more on your dd's breadth of reading, developing her vocabulary and understanding and her being able to write in he correct style for the text type. All of these are related to level 5 and level 6 criteria. In many ways level 6 is the pupil having more control and consistency. I actually believe that children need a certain level of maturity in their thoughts and their experience in order to perform at level 6. Making your dd tick the ones for level 6 won't actually mean that she has made the progress she needs to make.

1001nickname Wed 26-Sep-12 21:32:12

It sounds very reasonable indeed for you to be going in and asking why she has made so little progress. I would arrange a meeting with the head. It is normal to have a slower year but this is hardly any progress for two years and you need to understand why.

Levels are something of a tick box exercise and it's sad when you hear examples of a child who has written something pretty amazing but because it didn't tick the right boxes, sorry it doesn't count.

mrz Wed 26-Sep-12 21:48:05

I'm confused, have you seen the piece if writing or is your husband attempting to level a piece based on your daughter's description?
It's not possible to level writing based on a single piece. Levels are based on a number of pieces across different styles of writing.
Obviously I don't know your daughter but to move from level 3 in Y2 to a 4A in Y3 is an enormous leap (almost 3 years progress) so I would be inclined to believe that the Y3 level is incorrect.

1001nickname Wed 26-Sep-12 22:00:01

That's a good point. Even if she had been a 3A at the end of year 2 the jump to 4a is quite steep. Not impossible though if she is very, very high ability though mrz?

It simply seems to me that the OP deserves to understand what has gone on properly as on paper it does seem strange.

mrz Wed 26-Sep-12 22:05:26

Not totally impossible but very unusual even for very, very high ability children to make that kind of leap.

numptymark1 Wed 26-Sep-12 22:07:10

what is the benefit to your daughter of your DH sitting down with her telling her how to tick the boxes?

it's not encouraging creativity and is going to take the enjoyment out of her writing -there are no awards for getting level 6 at the end of primary

literature is difficult as it's not so much about ticking boxes as maths for example is and higher scoring DCs often get 'stuck' at a level as they lack the maturity and ability to apply techinique to a variety of texts

chicaguapa Wed 26-Sep-12 22:11:47

I have said that we have based it on what DD said about what she had written. We're going to look at her work ourselves and DH is going to take it to his school and ask for their feedback. He's in charge of literacy in his dept so has some background himself.

We're trying to help her produce a level 5 piece of work, not 6, as she's currently still assessed at level 4a. But DD isn't getting any guidance from school on what she needs to do. It's sad when we have to get that from another school and the parents have to get involved so heavily because the school isn't.

As far as I am aware they only assess up to level 3 at KS1 so DD could have been at 4c even and it would have just been recorded as 3. DN went from level 3 to 4a in maths between y2 and y3 so it is possible.

I agree to an extent that literacy levels are more about ticking boxes than creative writing. DD's last homework (the one DH guided her on) has fared badly too as her description was too implicit and not explicit enough. Our words, not the teacher's. She just said 'I wanted more adjectives'. Not very helpful. hmm

seeker Wed 26-Sep-12 22:18:48

Do you have a particular reason for needing her to be a level 5?

cansu Wed 26-Sep-12 22:19:15

Can I ask if she is happy at school? Does she enjoy her lessons? If so why are you stressing about this?

chicaguapa Wed 26-Sep-12 22:20:40

DD has been stuck at 4a for 2 years. We are trying to find out what she needs to do to progress to 5c. I can't believe she hasn't moved on at all when she's capable of producing work that has some of level 6 criteria in it. DH says each piece of work is assessed in isolation of the others, so I was wondering if the teacher notices that or is just looking at the difference between 4a & 5c to the exclusion of everything else.

seeker Wed 26-Sep-12 22:23:19

When ds was in year 6 it was important that he get level 5s because he was going to a secondary school that set from day 1 by SATs results, and he needed to be in the top sets.

Is there something like that happening to your dd?

cansu Wed 26-Sep-12 22:28:14

maybe the school uses app grids where the teacher updates the grid when the child has shown evidence of a particular assessment focus. I would also say that a child needs to show their skills over several pieces of work. I think our obsession with levels has led to poorer literacy skills in many ways but that's a whole other thread. I would honestly stop fretting about her level. It will make very little difference to her life. These are not GCSEs or a levels.

chicaguapa Wed 26-Sep-12 22:29:56

seeker The levels are irrelevant. I just want her to be making progress at school and trying to understand how she hasn't made any in 2 years. This isn't competitive mum trying to get the best level. This is a mum trying to understand how a child has achieved very little in KS2 in her new school.

1001nickname Wed 26-Sep-12 22:34:20

Cansu, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that the OP should expect some progress to show over two years in her dd's levels.

Op do you feel her work has progressed from what you see, disregarding levels for a minute?

chicaguapa Wed 26-Sep-12 22:40:34

The secondary school sets in Y8 so that's not a problem. We have also concentrated on other aspects of her schooling such as social skills anyway. No progress in 2 years is a concern and her old HT supports this. We think that the school has allowed her to coast for 2 years. DH doesn't understand how this can happen as he has to demonstrate progress for every pupil from one lesson to the next.

chicaguapa Wed 26-Sep-12 22:47:11

According to DH, APP grids shouldn't be used this way. There are clear guidelines saying not to do this.

Not sure about her work tbh. We haven't been monitoring it as had left that to the school. I accept that levels are for Ofsted benefit anyway, but schools usually jump through hoops to demonstrate progress so surprised there's no desire to do this with DD.

We still have no idea how to help her progress to the next level. Maybe we'll just leave it and hope she fares better at secondary school anyway.

BlueSkySinking Wed 26-Sep-12 23:15:52

Did she move from a less academic school to a more academic school? Just that she may have been a more able student in her last school (so marked highly next to the other kids) but is actually quite an average student in this new school (so marked harshly next to the other kids)? Maybe she has actually made the progress she needs to make over the last three years but the schools have different ideas of what a 4C, 4B, 5C etc are. I do know children who have moved schools and have arrived with better Sats grades then they deserved.

Rosebud05 Thu 27-Sep-12 10:12:09

I think you need another conversation with the school, possibly including someone from the SLT.

Even if your dd had been incorrectly assessed in her previous school, her current school assessments don't show any progress, which needs to be looked at in itself. No demonstrable progress in English and one sublevel in Maths is worth a proper meeting about.

Part of marking should be informing children what they need to do to improve - it sounds like this could be communicated a little more effectively.

cansu Thu 27-Sep-12 16:51:23

Do you think she has made progress? if she had come home with higher levels would you have been happy with her progress? I ask this because if your dd has made no progress then you are right to be concerned, but if she has not jumped up the right number of sub levels then that is quite different. I would also be concerned that the levels given at the end of y2 and then y3 were incorrect and this may well be why she appears to have stood still. I actually think your best bet would be to ask the teacher to show you some recent pieces of unaided work and ask her to explain whether it meets level 4 or level 5 criteria. This will then give you a definitive idea if where she's at. You can then also ask what are her weaknesses or or what she needs to do better in to start to achieve the level 5 criteria.

mrz Thu 27-Sep-12 17:06:16

and remember that this year there is a new test

chicaguapa Sat 29-Sep-12 22:40:52

Thanks all. DH has spoken to the teacher who is adamant DD will still have progressed to level 5 by the end of year 6. DH asked if she'd read any of DD's notes from her old school as we've never been spoken to about them. It turns out no-one has so the teacher is going to read them and call DH back next week.

The notes refer to her EP assessments and her particular needs/ challenges as she was both SEN and G&T there. I think this might be the problem as I don't think the school has been meeting her needs and this has hindered her progress. But at least she has it in her to catch up.

We have her old school books from Y3-Y5 so will look for signs of progress. Her Y4 teacher always pointed out evidence of her level at parents evenings which is why I'm sure he got that right. It sounds to me that she has some gaps to fill in which has held her back.

seeker Sat 29-Sep-12 22:55:26

Do you feel she is making progress? Does she?Are her stories better, her non fiction writing clearer and more functional? Is she using her imagination more? Is her handwriting and spelling better?

If yes to all of these why is it so important that she jumps through the level 5 hoop?

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