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AIBU to think that Effort grades are almost meaningless ?

(90 Posts)

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 !!

Maryz Thu 18-Jul-13 01:06:57


I know he is trying hard, because all the teachers tell me so. And because his exam results are good.

I don't think that's arrogant.

He has ADHD. Even with medication he finds it hard to sit still. He tries, but finds it hard. And no matter how hard he tries, he is much less likely to sit still than the children in his class who don't have ADHD.

Whereas dd a lot of the time doesn't bother. She sits and daydreams. But she is quiet, so she gets A's. She has said this herself - she benefits from the system, but still thinks it is unfair.

Endofmyfeather Thu 18-Jul-13 04:16:47

Apologies Maryz, my post was directed to the OP. I think it's clear your son's situation is different and absolutely agree with you that the school should be accounting for any SN in their gradings.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Jul-13 05:57:28

Effort at our school is based on what the child puts in to the subject. A student who coasts along, picking up good grades, sitting quietly in class, does what they need to get through will still only get an average mark in effort. A student who steps up and takes a proactive approach in group work, goes out of their way to extend their learning, assists in the learning of other students, asks appropriate questions and incorporates that in to their learning and persists even when things get difficult will get a much higher effort marking. It is a lot more subtle than just looking at behaviour and has nothing to do with grades.

A child with special needs can still receive a top mark for effort, regardless of other accommodations that need to be made. A student with special needs shouldn't be penalised for their needs, but they can still display an appropriate level of interest and enthusiasm for their learning.

SprinkleLiberally Thu 18-Jul-13 06:07:19

When I grade effort it is not just behaviour. I think of engagement in class such as listening or talking about the subject to me or to others. I think about whether they at least attempt homework and classwork. Mainly though, I consider if they try to act on feedback. Then add behaviour into the mix as well. Not perfect but it does mean pupils with both high and low attainment grades can be graded high or low for effort.

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Thu 18-Jul-13 06:09:42

I think effort grades often stand as a synonym for behaviour grades. I was an extremely good girl at school, and used to get 1s for effort in everything; even things where I put in the bare minimum of effort, because I didn't like the subject.

Our school separate behaviour and effort grades, and I often give students different grades for each. Particularly the boy in my form who is respectful, polite, quiet, but puts in virtually no effort whatsoever.

tethersend Thu 18-Jul-13 06:27:45

What of the child with no SEN who never contributes to class, just manages to keep up with the work, is sometimes chatty and has average attainment?

Oh, and his parents are alcoholics, he's had no breakfast, washed his own uniform, taken his siblings to school, done his homework in the playground and is struggling to stay awake as he got no sleep last night due to having no bedding and being cold. But the teacher doesn't know any of this.

How much effort is he making?

neontetra Thu 18-Jul-13 06:28:13

Just have to express how upset I am by some of the gender stereotyping going on upthread. If boys prefer "active" learning, presumably the implication is that girls prefer "passive" learning? These attitudes towards and about young women are so damaging in my opinion. Yes, I am a teacher and sadly I encounter them in the workplace sometimes (and challenge them ardently when I do). Didn't think I'd see them trotted out here though.
As for effort grades, yes they are subjective, but so are attainment grades really - both rely on teacher judgement based on the evidence to hand. I do think that effort grades provide a really important way to celebrate those who always do their best but struggle to make rapid progress for whatever reason. As someone said upthread, when my dd starts school I will care a lot more about her effort than her attainment, and the former are the grades I will reward her for if they are good.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Jul-13 07:16:57

tethersend I would bet my life that the teacher knows about the struggling student. We're not stupid. We actually care about these children. I spend all day with them. I communicate with parents and know what sort of communication I get back. I have two eyes, two ears and a brain, and they're all constantly monitoring my class and picking up the smallest change in their personalities and demeanor.

Students are graded on their effort, not that of other students. It is not a grade that is compared against what other students are doing. What may be effort for one student is completely different for another.

Having read my DS's report and compared it to DD's noting the slightly lower effort grades I start a thread to air the whole interesting and tricky subject of effort grades .... but I'm told I'm "astonishingly arrogant" for having an opinion on the effort my DS makes at school. Another poster says "I just have to express how upset I am by some of the gender stereotyping" - what does this relate to ? To some comments about boys in particular benefiting from active learning approaches (and no this doesn't mean that girls wouldn't benefit too from some variety in teaching methods), and some pondering about whether primary schools are sometimes female dominated environments which perhaps are not always as encouraging to boys as they are to girls.

Well, I still think it's a perfectly reasonable discussion to raise, and it really doesn't have to be all about my DS and my opinion of his effort grades - that was just the spring-board for me, and an example to get things started. Seems to me as well that some teacher's are being rather defensive instead of looking critically at the practice and considering how it could be improved - though I think SprinkleLiberally has obviously given some thought to making these grades as meaningful as possible.

tethersend Thu 18-Jul-13 10:15:36

Midnite, as teachers, we absolutely do not know everything about a child's home life. This is not because we are stupid, but because abusive and neglectful parents can be clever, and get good at hiding things.

I am an advisory teacher for children in care, and have children on my caseload where the school was not aware of the abuse the child was suffering until they were removed from home. This does not mean the teachers were at fault, just that they did not know. I suspect they were therefore unable to accurately grade those children's effort.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Jul-13 10:28:13

No, we don't know everything, but we can be on the look out for flags. Using your example there would be cues - uniform not washed correctly or ironed, child doing his homework in the playground, falling asleep in class, parents not communicating with the school, lack of concentration mid morning. Whilst none of those may on their own may be an indicator of a larger problem, when you start adding them up, then it's worth investigating further. All of that would have me digging a lot deeper, and those are issues that go well beyond what the child scores as an effort grade on their report card. We'd be pretty poor teachers if we ignored all of those aspects of a child's behaviour.

iseenodust Thu 18-Jul-13 10:45:56

It's an inexact science because it's subjective. DS got good effort scores except in RE and music both taught by a retired teacher who just has the class one afternoon a week. It may be down to his attitude, it may be she has standards.

However the class teacher gets a lousy effort for spelling DS's surname wrong on the front of the report.

yamsareyammy Thu 18-Jul-13 10:47:50

tethersend, I am surprised that you are saying that teachers cannot grade effort, more or less correctly.
A bit disrespectful to teachers, I would have thought.

tethersend Thu 18-Jul-13 11:10:44

It really isn't. I am a teacher- I cannot measure effort accurately. This is not a failure on my part.

Teachers are very skilled in some areas, but they are not super human. No human being can accurately measure the effort another is making.

Completely agree tethers.

I think it's very simplistic really.

I kind of think that most children are trying the best they can given the entirity of the environment around them - including their own academic ability and concentration levels, the classroom environment and behaviour of other children, their relationship with the teacher and the teaching methods used, their home environment, and their personality.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 11:48:40

As a teacher you know who is engaged with the lesson and interested and I think it only fair to give them credit for it. Maybe they find it difficult to sit still, maybe they do struggle with handwriting- it doesn't mean they are not making an effort. As a teacher the children that I find dispiriting are those who don't want to learn- and even worse the ones who want to disrupt others. There are children who can pull out all the stops and get the grades when it matters- I can understand their parents being upset when they get A for achievement but less for effort - equally it is nice to acknowledge that someone who will never get a top grade is trying their best.
DS2 is dyslexic- he was never going to get more than average in most subjects but his reports were lovely because we knew, he knew and his teachers knew that he was A for effort. Those A's for effort were what got him a good job in the end, he deserved it. It would have been simple for him to give up and disrupted others and he would have deserved E for effort had he done so.
If you don't agree with the effort grade you can query it.
I found them very accurate and useful for all my DCs.

What I would consider querying exotic is whether at DS's school they might consider introducing more than 3 levels for effort. They go from A - Always working at or near full potential, to B - Satisfactory.

I'm sure if there was a B - good, but sometimes ...
then he'd get that and I'd be a lot happier.

I'm sure his effort in class is above satisfactory, he's made very good progress in all areas this year, and the report is otherwise very positive in all ways. The comments don't appear to match the grade given to me.

But we've only got 4 and a half days left at primary school now - so I might just go and enjoy next week's end of year show and leave it at that !

I haven't ruled out having a word with his teacher though - we get on very well.

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 12:12:08

I think A should be excellent, B good, C satisfactory and you only need to worry about D and E.
That is now I have always known it back to my schooldays.

Maybe it is due to OFSTED changing the definition of 'satisfactory'. smile

exoticfruits Thu 18-Jul-13 12:12:28

Sorry how not now.

Thanks exotic - as I said DS's report was just a spring-board for some of these thoughts, which as a one time teacher myself have been simmering for a while.

Basically as tethers says, can we really judge effort in children with any real accuracy?

TeenAndTween Thu 18-Jul-13 16:22:11

I like the effort grades, it tells me something.

With DD2 in primary, I learned half way through the year that her teacher thought she wasn't trying too hard (scored a B out of ABC). We were then able to go in, have the discussion, and determine ways to help her concentrate (eg table on her own for maths so she wouldn't get distracted).

DD1 in secondary usually scores attitude 7 or 6 on scale 7 down to 1. When the occasional 5 has popped up we have been able to discuss what she may be doing / not doing that has made the teacher score as such. This can be good for reminding on behaviour (eg not calling out through sheer enthusiasm, remember to ask for extension work if you finish early), but also whether the teacher needs to be prompted that DD is not good at following verbal instructions and needs to see things written down.

So, yes they are an inexact science, but they do tell you what effort the teacher thinks the child is putting in. So it can be used for a discussion with the teacher / your child if you think appropriate. (or ignore if you prefer).

FionaJT Thu 18-Jul-13 16:38:30

I also think effort grades are useful. My dd (Yr 3) who is very proactive in class and top of everything in achievement has received 'average' effort grades in her best subject, Maths, because she genuinely 'could do better'. It is good for her to understand that there are things she can improve on rather than her usual attitude of 'I know all the answers so why should I bother'.
At school I got good grades through hard work whereas my sister could just sail through stuff with the minimum of effort. It made a difference to me when my effort was acknowledged.

curlew Thu 18-Jul-13 16:41:46

Just wondering whether "sociable" is the new "spirited"!grin

iclaudius Thu 18-Jul-13 16:42:42

My attitude for all SECONDARY school age kids is that I'm only really interested in the effort column
If they are trying their best then the outcome is irrelevant !

curlew Thu 18-Jul-13 16:48:28

Seriously though, don't you all know exactly how much effort- or not- your children are putting into their school work? I certainly do!

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