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AIBU to think that Effort grades are almost meaningless ?

(90 Posts)
JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 10:36:26

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

LaurieFairyCake Wed 17-Jul-13 10:44:25

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?

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 10:54:14

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

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 11:08:13

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.

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 12:02:48

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

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 12:27:34

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?

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 12:56:46

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.

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 13:09:23

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.

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 17-Jul-13 13:20:17

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 !

JemimaMuddledUp Wed 17-Jul-13 14:37:46

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.

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