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DS2 (Year 4) going backwards. How worried should I be?

(31 Posts)
redhat Sat 26-Mar-16 19:19:36

DS2 is in year 4 and has just been assessed for English (writing rather than reading) at a level 3c which seems very low. I have just found his report for summer term of Year 3 and he was assessed at level 3b.

How concerned should I be that he has actually gone backwards? I am about to ask to speak to his teacher.

christinarossetti Sat 26-Mar-16 19:23:01

The levels don't exist anymore because they don't map to the new curriculum, so that's not a helpful starting point.

Speak with the teacher if you're concerned about progress.

redhat Sat 26-Mar-16 19:46:53

He's at an independent school so they use a different curriculum anyway. It was more the fact that over the course of a year he has gone backwards which seems unusual to say the least.

CrazyCatLaydee123 Sat 26-Mar-16 19:58:25

You have to remember that children's learning does not go up like a straight line graph - they have good days and bad days, which can equate to dips and plateaus in their learning.

Ask the teacher what the writing assessment is based on - is it test based, from one piece of writing or from several pieces of writing? Was it the same teacher that made the previous assessment? If it is teacher based assessment it can be very subjective and different teachers can mark the same piece of writing completely differently. Have the writing assessments been moderated? This can help as it cab provide a different opinion on writing assessment grades.

Is there anything that may have affected his learning this year? Anything from stuff going on at home to fallouts with friends, or even simply not liking the teacher or being taught differently in a way that doesn't work for him, could have an effect.

mrz Sun 27-Mar-16 07:44:01

It's unusual for a child to go backwards much more likely that last year's assessment was generous.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sun 27-Mar-16 22:49:19

Ask - "what's missing from his writing"

Punctuation capital letters full stops is he have a great opening sentence any build up - is he including adjectives nouns does it make sense -

If you know what's missing he can have some confidence building sessions

Ask "what are they doing to help him improve? "How can you support him at home"

Any websites that are useful?


StuffandBother Sun 27-Mar-16 23:08:28

The levelling changed last year, it's probably just to do with that - the teacher would have told you if he was actually going backwards!!

Fanjango Sun 27-Mar-16 23:22:20

Yes yes. What Stuff said. They've changed the grading system. It's all got harder and if the school is still using the old grading system, now not govt policy, it will be reflected in that. Don't panic, the school would tell you if there was a problem.

womdering Mon 28-Mar-16 05:55:26

Assessment of writing is more open to subjectivity than subjects like maths, science, etc. This means that there is often more discrepancy between one teacher's grading and another - particularly if one of the teachers is less experienced at marking English papers than another. I also agree that scores in end of year texts are often inflated. Don't worry. However, do bring this to the attention of the teachers and ask for clarification.

icklekid Mon 28-Mar-16 06:00:08

Have you got his book from last year? If so could you compare it to this year and see if his writing is improving? Some children respond really well to one teacher and produce fantastic writing then with another teacher they are sloppy and make simple mistakes like previously mentioned about capital letters/range of punctuation. I'm presuming as you said private their assessment system hasn't changed. Did you get an autumn term writing level?

asnmdirteha Mon 28-Mar-16 18:09:06

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

redhat Mon 28-Mar-16 18:15:33

Thanks everyone. Yes this is just for writing. His reading/comprehension score is much higher. I will dig out the report from last term to see if they gave a teacher assessment score (but they don't always provide this).

bojorojo Mon 28-Mar-16 18:22:31

I would ask if the grades are ever moderated by other teachers in the school, or is it just the opinion of one teacher. If they are teaching the new national curriculum, and they may not be, the grades you quote have been abolished. Therefore they cannot say he is a 3c based on the current curriculum. It does not exist.

This all sounds like guesswork from the school and I would ask how they are assessing his work and can they show you what progress he has made. If it is truly none, I would question why you are paying. What is the school doing about his lack of progress on their outdated system? Also, if he is taking SATs you may need to worry if they have not implemented the new curriculum. He will be missing out on the teaching required and the curriculum is more challenging. I would start asking questions.

bojorojo Mon 28-Mar-16 18:26:43

If there is no teacher assessment score (?) are the grades just from a test or two? This in itself is very odd. There should be ongoing assessment and usually this will be reviewed twice a term (approx) to check progress. If children are not making progress, effort should be made to see why not and implement a different strategy implemented.

redhat Mon 28-Mar-16 20:07:25

They don't do sats at the school anymore. My understanding is that this test was scored on the basis of the old sats scores because that it what we are familiar with (the school has been using the sats levels to give us an idea of progress). This was one end of term test I believe and it was scored by both of the year 4 teachers sitting together. The school tests all children at the end of each term in English and maths.

The school operates its own curriculum so that's a non issue really (although I suspect it is pretty similar, they've always done a lot of grammar for example).

Frustratingly, they are off school now for over three weeks and so I can't speak to the teachers for a while.

bojorojo Tue 29-Mar-16 13:14:25

I would have a major problem with an old "level" being given on just an end of term test. No state school would ever get away with this and it shows, very clearly, that the school does not have an effective assessment policy. Thank your lucky stars Ofsted do not visit your school. They would be "Inadequate" for this lack of appropriate assessment and recording of progress.

Testing once a term means there is no build-up of progress data over a period of time. It is just a snapshot. A test should be evidence of the progress made. Do you really think this snap-shot of progress is good enough? Many independent schools teach the national curriculum with "extra". There are computer programs that track progress where teachers enter data 3 -4 times a term. This means they can see where a child is not making progress. It also tells the senior leadership of the school where there may be teaching and learning problems and then strategies can be designed to tackle lack of progress. An end of term test should not produce a shock result. The teacher should have known he was not making progress by assessing his work through the two terms of Y4.

As they are not teaching the new curriculum, I do not see how you can compare his progress, or apparent lack of it, to any other child or school. 3c is meaningless if it is not allied to the old national curriculum.

I would try and get more robust information from the school about what they are teaching and how they carry out ongoing assessment. Do they assess any of his work in class or homework? What would good progress actually look like - in their view? Do they get other teachers to mark work (not tests) and make a joint decision as to what the work should be graded? Is he given feedback on what he needs to do to improve? What information have you been given to indicate that he is falling behind or have they not engaged with you at all? Perhaps, more importantly, what are they going to do about it? Do you think this school is good enough to receive your money?

redhat Tue 29-Mar-16 17:14:57

I've been discussing his progress with the school for the past few months and have been assured that he is very bright and capable and performing at a higher level than is expected for his age. I've expressed some doubt about this since that is not reflected in what I see him produce (however my other (older) child is extremely academic and so I don't really have a realistic reference point for comparison).

The school is a very highly rated independent prep. It's also an academically selective school. They really wouldn't have any problem with Ofsted. Only 2 children got a level 4 for English in the last lot of KS2 sats. All others got level 5 (and about 35 percent got level 6). They test the children and monitor progress frequently but in particular they have assessment weeks at the end of every term. I know they are not following the new national curriculum since they've told us they disagree with the changes.

I specifically asked about this english writing assessment since DS came home and said he'd been given a 2a for writing. I queried this knowing that he was a 2a in Year 2 and was told that he'd been given a 3c in a this assessment which had been scored by two teachers. I wouldn't have been given the score unless I'd asked for it.

Part of the problem is that its now half term for more than 3 weeks. It may well be that when I query it with them they say it was a one off bad result. Fingers crossed.

mrz Tue 29-Mar-16 17:15:55

Independent schools are free to set their own curriculum and assessment. Having said that I'm surprised they are following the old National Curriculum

redhat Tue 29-Mar-16 17:17:36

I don't think they are following the old national curriculum. They have their own curriculum. They were doing SATS though until they were scrapped.

mrz Tue 29-Mar-16 17:25:26

If they are following a different curriculum it's very odd to use assessments designed to test the National Curruculum.

redhat Tue 29-Mar-16 17:30:48

I suspect it's as someone posted earlier, effectively the national curriculum adapted to suit them and with extras. I know they said they didn't like the move towards learning more formal grammar etc (which stuck me as a bit odd given that they do lots of grammar) and away from "independent thinking".

mrz Tue 29-Mar-16 17:56:28

If it's adapted with extras they need an assessment that tests the adapted curriculum and extras poor practice!

redhat Tue 29-Mar-16 18:02:48

They may well have adapted it. But they still give a score that tallies with the old sats scores since this is what the parents are familiar with.

Anyway this is really less about whether the school is good, bad or appalling and more about whether it is worrying that DS appears to have gone backwards or whether blips are to be expected.

redhat Tue 29-Mar-16 18:03:43

If it is relevant it was single written exercise - a newspaper report. It wasn't a test of everything they've done over the course of the term.

sallyhasleftthebuilding Tue 29-Mar-16 18:13:02

The teachers will mark on the following

Name of news paper
Sub heading
Picture caption
Time line
Past tense (no 3 weeks later he was found)
Good story facts
Speech marks

Story to include

Punctuation/speech marks commas full stops capital letters
Joining words (because therefore)
Time line - date after that later
Good ending - any information

Should be mainly spelt correctly - should have attempt at longer words - should have sentences that make sense

(Topic is irrelevant)

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