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"Steady Progress" - Positive or Negative?

(30 Posts)
Alfieandzoesmum Wed 05-Dec-12 14:46:27

Just received DS1's school report for Year One - in every subject he is described as making "steady progress". I was quite pleased with this but MIL is a teacher and says this is a way of saying that he is struggling along and a below average pace. DH agrees with her. Feeling rather deflated. Would you be pleased with a report for a 6 year old that said this??? Am I missing the point or is this really OK at this level?

gail734 Wed 05-Dec-12 15:12:49

I'm a teacher - "steady progress" is good. Your MIL and DH are being very negative. Think about it, "steady progress" means he is gradually improving and learning all the time. What do they want from him? "DS1 is a genius"? They might be able to say that this expression is a bit of a cop-out on the teacher's part, but he/she probably had to write 30 of these reports. It's hard to be sparklingly original in all of them. He's definitely not struggling or "below average", but using this phrase for every subject is a bit dull. It's possible that the reports are written using a bank of standard expressions which are cut and pasted to an extent, IYSWIM. When you get to parents' night, you'll get more detail, or if it's really worrying you, make an appointment with the teacher for a chat/look at DS1's work. It's never a bad idea to show the teacher that you're interested.

mrz Wed 05-Dec-12 20:40:21

MIL and DH are wrong ... progress is progress

learnandsay Wed 05-Dec-12 20:44:15

Doesn't the school give national curriculum level scores out at the same time as the report? If it does you can store the reposts in a safe place and track his progress yourself. If you're worried about him you can also boost his learning at home. There are about eight million and twenty four ways of doing this. Some are free and some involve tutors, websites, educational software, you name it.

mrz Wed 05-Dec-12 20:53:35

A child in Y1 may not be working on the NC at this stage in the year learnandsay

learnandsay Wed 05-Dec-12 21:00:03

OK, if the OP knows that they're coming she can look out for them in the future, or check if she might already have some on her current report. But I suspect what she doesn't want to do is be led down the garden path by MIL & husband who appear to have some sort of closet education issue.

flumperoo Wed 05-Dec-12 21:04:18

I'm a teacher and steady progress generally means slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

take3 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:04:25

I would say 'steady progress' is ok progress... yes it is progress but not good progress. I do think there is a bit of a culture of not really spelling things out clearly for parents... teachers tend to say what the children have been doing in school rather than what the parents really want to hear... so I would say that your DH could be right - but then again it may been just ok progress.
I would ask the teacher so you stop worrying.

I found my old reports recently... they are SO much more informative than many reports written nowadays - yes they are blunt but then I guess that was helpful to for my parents " Mollie has not worked very hard this term, she is always talking to her friends and she needs to pull her socks up and focus more in class'...sort of thing. It really tells you very clearly!

Beamur Wed 05-Dec-12 21:07:29

We've just had parents evening with DD's teacher - she's in Yr 1 too. I was so unsure if some of the comments were platitudes, positives or criticisms I had to ask! I guess that is the culture of how teachers are obliged to give feedback these days.
I remember the old days of 'Beamur would do well if she put in any effort at all'

mrz Wed 05-Dec-12 21:11:35

If a child was struggling I would write "*** is struggling" If a child was making slow progress I would say "**** is making slow progress" and if they were making steady progress I would say "***** is making steady progress"

Beamur Wed 05-Dec-12 21:14:21

But presumably as a teacher you know exactly what that means to you - 'steady progress' obviously means different things to different people, hence this thread.

mrz Wed 05-Dec-12 21:24:33

Well if you check the definition of "steady" you will find it means uniform reliable dependable unfaltering free from variation or fluctuation ...so steady progress means just that ...the child is progressing

Rudolphstolemycarrots Wed 05-Dec-12 22:21:58

i would take it as him making the expected progress - nothing more or less.

IndigoBelle Thu 06-Dec-12 04:25:46

Steady progress means progress - but may or may not mean expected / adequate progress.

It is ridiculous to say progress is progress. You have to make expected progress to cope in school.

I think if the OP is getting a report in Dec that means she probably lives down under where there aren't NC levels to ask about. So you can't find out (objectively ) how you DC is doing.

So OP you'll have to ask "is DS where he should be for the end of year 1"

Alfieandzoesmum Thu 06-Dec-12 08:05:58

Thanks for all your comments. I was reading through last year's reports and they were far more positive i.e. "good progress" and shows a "keen interest and aptitude for....". I guess comparing the reports this one does seem more negative but then again different teacher so hard to make a direct comparision. I do wish they would just say what they think rather than trying to veil it through all these fluffy words and sayings. I seem to be spending more time trying to decipher what the report says rather than actually how my son is getting on which seems a bit ridiculous. I guess its managing parent's expectations too. A teacher may think "steady progress" is fine whereas a parent may wish for "good/excellent progress".
PS Indigo Belle am in UK not down under (wish I was!)

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 09:40:25

Is it not possible to tell for yourself from looking at the child's work how much progress he's making?

DeWe Thu 06-Dec-12 10:05:27

Hmm. I would go and ask the teacher. Because "steady progress" literally means continuing to move on at the same rate.

So it could be steady and going up 2 sublevels every half term.
Or going up 2 sublevels every 5 year.

Both are steady, one is way above expectations, other is well below.

I suspect it depends on the teacher as to what exactly it means.

It depends on the teacher as to how they write. For example at secondary school in year 7 we had an english teacher who marked (out of 20) basically always between 12 and 20, 20 not being that rare, and you usually got a "good" or "very good", and not infrequently "excellent".
In year 8 our teacher gave marks (out of 20) between 8 and 17. An 18/20 was almost unheard of. If he wrote "good" in your book it was special commendation and he'd only do that perhaps once every other week.
Both teachers were good teachers, I think I did slightly better with the second teacher because his style suited mine more. But the first set of marks we were all in shock. After that we realised it was his marks scheme more than ours and we adjusted our expectations.

Alfieandzoesmum Thu 06-Dec-12 10:42:21

Well yes I suppose I could monitor his progress myself but not being a teacher I have no idea how he compares to his peers/what is expected of him and surely that defeats the object of having a report from the teacher? I am a little afraid of asking her as I feel I would come across as a really pushy parent who is not happy with being told her child is "steadily progressing!"

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 11:04:01

I think it's sometimes possible to find out what the national average is for any given stage. But comparing with his peers, (if you mean his classmates,) is probably not the right thing to be trying to do. I've heard it said that some mums volunteer in schools to get this kind of info. I'm against even the concept of it. I think one parent has no business comparing her child with another. As far as knowing whether or not your child is meeting expectations there is a lot of free information out there about what children should be learning and at what stage. It's a bit of a job tracking it down. But it's probably better to track it down read it and store it somewhere than it is to try an divine what a teacher might or might not mean as if one was trying to tell the future by reading tea leaves. Doing your own assessments of children's learning is difficult, but it's not impossible.

DewDr0p Thu 06-Dec-12 11:09:07

Might be also worth bearing in mind that's children's progress isn't generally linear - there will naturally be times when they plateau and times when they zoom ahead.

I would go and ask the teacher to clarify though, no harm in asking. I'd approach it from the "not sure from the report whether you are happy with his progress atm or not? is there anything I can do at home to support this?"

Alfieandzoesmum Thu 06-Dec-12 11:25:06

But surely it gives a good indication of how your child is getting on if you do compare them to their classmates. I know they all develop at different rates etc but it gives you a pretty good idea if they are generally coping or not. Of course I would never start volunteering to see what level my son is at nor ask what reading level his class mates are on, discuss progress with other parents etc but if you see the whole class's work on a board its natural to compare how your child's work is compared to the rest surely and to gauge whether they are generally coping or not? I know when I was at school I knew if I was OK in a subject or not by comparing myself to my classmates?

IndigoBelle Thu 06-Dec-12 11:32:01

If you are worried easiest thing to do is by a Y1 book from WH Smiths and see how much of it they can do....

Or maybe a Reception book which they 'should' be able to do all of.

But, honestly, if he's in Y1 I don't think you need to worry. If he knows his alphabet and can read a few words and count up to 20 etc he's fine for now.

Even in Y1 you would know if there was a cause for concern - without the teacher needing to say. ie wouldn't know his alphabet or be able to write anything or count up to 10.

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 11:50:30

Right, indigo. But an educationally concerned mum isn't worried whether or not her child can do the basics, is she? Some children can do more than the short list you've just posted in nursery. And some can do a lot more in nursery.

This is one of my problems, really, if a child can do a lot more than that in nursery then do you really want them to be doing the same things in YR, Y1 and possibly knowing less when they come out of Y1 than they did in pre-school?!! I have heard complaints a few times that home-educated children sometimes go backwards when they enter school.

purplecrayon Thu 06-Dec-12 12:36:30

I would just ask the teacher. Different teachers use phrases slightly differently.

We have "progress" or "good progress" etc. it's very difficult to decipher and I hate the reports out school send home.

Alfieandzoesmum Thu 06-Dec-12 12:38:53

Actually very interesting what you just wrote learnandsay as now thinking about it according to his report the year before my son could easily count in 2s,5s and 10s. He knew his numbers up to 100 and could subtract one from any given number. Now in Year One he is making "steady progress", is learning his teen numbers and his "next target" is to count in multiples of 2s. All these things he could do 2 years ago. It does seem he has taken a step back so while he can probably do the basics (not sure what they really are at this age) his progress to me would be going in the wrong direction!!!! My son is very shy and I wonder if he just doesnt stick his hand up so the teacher just assumes he cant do stuff!

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