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(28 Posts)
bonkers20 Sat 02-Jul-11 18:20:48

My DS (age 12, yr 7) got his report today.

I don't understand how he can get a level 1 for effort but not meet his end of year target. For a couple of subjects the difference is significant. Doesn't this mean that the target was set too high?

Also, how can I find out what level he should be reaching? I try not to get too hung up on levels and targets, but the school seems to put quite some importance on them.


tethersend Sat 02-Jul-11 18:30:35

This is why I have such a huge issue with effort grades. They are inaccurate, meaningless at best, and harmful at worst.

In Y7, most children are expected to attain level 4s. His target level should have been assessed by looking at his previous attainment (KS2 SATS or sometimes CATS results).

So yes, in theory, one of his grades is wrong- however, if you take into account that effort grades are largely completely subjective units of measurement, I would be more likely to trust the target grade. It does not follow that he has been making insufficient effort though; children's achievement can come in fits and starts. Try and view the target level grade as an indicator of what he is theoretically capable of rather than where he should be.

Do question school about how they arrived at his target grade, though.

cricketballs Sat 02-Jul-11 19:16:03

ask whether the targets are from Fisher Family Trust. The FFT targets are created through a mathematical formula which takes the whole child and their background into account but not the actual child its self!

In other words, if you are married, in a good job, live in a good area, have a university education and your child scored as normal in KS2, then the targets go very high!

I am often given targets for children that are so high they are laughable and there is no way that child will achieve even if they were given 5 hours a day of 1-2-1 teaching!

I have always said to my DS1 that I don't care what his grades are as long as he has tried his best (just waiting for his GCSE results to test this grin)

roisin Sat 02-Jul-11 19:41:04

Tethersend - I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts on effort grades.

Personally we have always valued them highly. We've praised the boys for their effort grades, rather than their achievement, as we think that is what leads to "success in life" how much commitment and motivation you show towards a task.

Bonkers - is he off target for many subjects? Which ones? This would concern me. The boys are sometimes off target for an odd subject, but there's usually a reason.

Their school doesn't stick rigidly to FFT targets and does adjust them up and down if appropriate.

Do you think his KS2 grades from primary were realisitic for him? Sometimes if a child has artificially inflated KS2 grades this can result in unachievable targets in KS3.

tethersend Sat 02-Jul-11 20:30:38

roisin- I wrote my thesis on effort grades when I was training to be a teacher, and have seen nothing in my subsequent career which suggests to me that effort grades are anything other than a meaningless and inaccurate arbitrary 'mark'. Nothing more than teacher guesswork.

Effort is impossible to accurately measure, and to grade it is absurd. One person cannot possibly know how much effort another is making in any given task.

The only person capable of assessing a child's effort is that child.

Nobody can accurately judge how much effort anybody else is making. For some children, arriving to school at all is a huge effort- yet they may arrive late every morning having had to make breakfast and take a younger sibling to school. They have already made more effort than the child who is given a lift to school every morning, yet they are thought of as having made less effort due to their poor punctuality. You could apply the same to paying attention and handing in HWK. Surely it would be better to give a grade for punctuality, homework or on task behaviour, all of which are measurable?

Too often, effort grades are also used as a 'compensation' for low-achieving students, or those with SEN; but what message does a low attainment and high effort grade actually send out? You are trying your hardest but you have performed badly or No matter how hard you try, you will only achieve this grade. They can end up sending out precisely the opposite message they were trying to.

Of course it matters to us as parents whether or not our children are trying their best- but the amount of effort they put in can be ascertained far more accurately through a conversation with them.

bonkers20 Sat 02-Jul-11 22:05:30

Their target grades are set by FFT. Our letter says "These are calculated using prior attainment and other contextual factors and the target set is for the end of KS3. These are then adjusted by the school to set a year end target".

There are 2 subjects which are "off".
Italian. Target 5b, attainment 3b, effort 1. nb. He only started learning Italian this year.
PE. Target 5b, attainment 5c, effort 1.

Others which make me wonder are:
French. 5b, 4c, 2. That's 2 steps away from his target despite a pretty good effort.
Geog. 6b, 5b, 2. A whole level off.
History. 6c, 5b, 2. 2 steps off.
ICT. 6c, 4a, 2. 4 steps off.

Actually, most are like this. There are some targets which match attainment with an effort of 1.

tether you say they should be reaching level 4 in yr7. He got level 5s for his year 6 SATs so I had it in mind that they should be aiming for high 5s or 6s (though I believe level 5 for KS2 SATs is pretty good).
It's not a level per year then? Is there somewhere I can read up about these levels?

Anyway, anway, he's bright and doing pretty well and he knows where he needs to improve.

Thanks all.

bruffin Sat 02-Jul-11 23:00:09

It sounds like the targets are end of KS rather than end of yr7 it doesn't sound as if they have been adjusted properly. A target of 5 in MFL in yr7 I would say is almost impossible. The best at DCs school get a level 4 and those are fast tracked to do gcse in yr9 and last year all of those got A/A*

IHeartKingThistle Sat 02-Jul-11 23:20:11

Bear in mind that teachers' hands are often tied when it comes to writing reports. Our reporting system does not allow me to be honest about the students I teach and it is maddening. Schools are now obsessed with targets.

If I'd given a high effort grade and a low achievement grade I would be hoping that the parent would realise that I was trying to say 'your child is lovely, s/he is working their socks off, their target is ridiculous, s/he will get there, make them a cake'.

I feel like a fraud signing off my reports. I hate it.

Kez100 Sun 03-Jul-11 05:46:47

Reports were a nightmare for me, as a statistician. I spent some time discussing it when my first born received her first couple of reports. Now I know what I look at and what I don't! I tend to read the words now and note the behaviour and homework. Id look at effort if poor scoring. I also watch their work books for grades on work. I have learned what NC levels mean and can gauge from real work grades that they are progressing. I look at the homework report grade to make sure they are doing what is given. Oh and I go to parents evening which is very useful. Reports must be stressful enough for teachers to write without them needing to be stressful to interpret too!

Anything remotely calculated from average data I avoid. I was never bang on average progress at school and I doubt either of my children will be either.

fuckmepinkandCALLmegoran Sun 03-Jul-11 05:56:46

I was wondering about this. My DD1 got A* in a subject, with a mark of 98% but was graded 2 for effort.

She and I were confused

seeker Sun 03-Jul-11 06:08:34

It looks as if those targets are for the end of KS3, not the end of year 7.

My dd goes to a high achieving selective school, but there is no way a child there would have an end of year 7 target of 5b for a MFL they had only been studying for a year (for example).

bonkers20 Sun 03-Jul-11 07:49:52

No Seeker, they have been adjusted for the end of this year. I quoted the accompanying letter above " These are then adjusted by the school to set a year end target". The maths teacher also stated in the report that DS failed to meet his end of year target by one step which is consistent with what the report says.

The 5b for Italian does look odd. Level 5s for end of KS3 would be pretty poor GCSE grades wouldn't they?

Thistle and Kez, I like your comments. That's generally how I feel, but I do like to have a full understanding. The teachers have spent so much time into writing reports that I feel I should do my best to interpret them.

bonkers20 Sun 03-Jul-11 07:53:44

*cricket" said "In other words, if you are married, in a good job, live in a good area, have a university education and your child scored as normal in KS2, then the targets go very high!"

Hmmmm. Well I am all of the above, but I don't remember them asking for this information - certainly not education level.

roisin Sun 03-Jul-11 09:12:22

grin IHeartKingThistle, Love it. "If I'd given a high effort grade and a low achievement grade I would be hoping that the parent would realise that I was trying to say 'your child is lovely, s/he is working their socks off, their target is ridiculous, s/he will get there, make them a cake'. "

gingeroots Sun 03-Jul-11 09:18:36

Reading this thread with interest as I also read a recent thread about only one parents evening a year - which seems to be the norm now .

DS dropped out of year13 in April and the school seemed to think that was fine - I didn't .
Anyway have just been looking back at the few words that parents now receive ,seemingly in lieu of parents evening .

And what I see is a little box with subject /attainment /effort .
Effort is ranked " outstanding " but the grade/attainment is below the "target " ( B ) in all cases .

That's all there is ,so I feel this is inadequate and confusing really .
And wonder HeartKingThistle if I shouldn't have been baking more cakes .

noblegiraffe Sun 03-Jul-11 10:38:04

FFT targets are not set by the school. They are based on what your child got in KS2 SATs, then other factors such as post code, ethnicity and free school meals. So your PE target is set based on your kid's ability in Maths, English and Science - which, let's face it, isn't usually a good predictor of PE ability. Kids who are academic but dyspraxic would be faced with a high PE target they couldn't possibly meet.

FFT targets are also an average. The average child who is the same, according to the criteria as your child would be expected to achieve blah blah blah. Of course with it being an average, some would achieve less and some would achieve more. FFT targets should not be used as individual targets for individual children. They are useful to assess if a large cohort of children have generally performed as well as expected - the ones who perform above and below their target average out, if you see what I mean.

And decimal levels are generally a bit crap. What actually distinguishes a child getting a 4a and a 4b could be a difference of 1 mark on an end of year exam.

seeker Sun 03-Jul-11 20:21:38

I don't know of a school which would expect a child to achieve a level 5 in a new MFL by the end of year 7.

Maybe some of the targets have been adjusted and some haven't?

bonkers20 Sun 03-Jul-11 20:36:53

I'll check that Seeker and let you know (in case you're interested!).

IHeartKingThistle Sun 03-Jul-11 20:49:02

Gingerroots - why did she decide to drop out? (If you don't mind me being nosy?) What is she doing now? I hope it all works out for you both.

gingeroots Mon 04-Jul-11 09:40:32

IHeartKing - why did DC drop out ? Good question ,why ,why ,why ?

I agonise over this and wonder who amongst the players ( me ,school ,DC ) must take biggest " blame " .

I guess like most things it's a combination of reasons and actually I need to add the exam system to the mix above .

DC was repeating yr13 and for first 6 months doing well .
Dreadful truth - went into school one day and following some group chat between subject teacher and those not hitting targets ,complete collapse of DC .

Anyway to answer - Foundation Degree at FE College .
Am hoping will go well .
But v.sad at not finishing A level courses ,even if only led to D's and E's .

bonkers20 Mon 04-Jul-11 14:23:37

Ginger as a complete outsider to me it seems that it went from "doing well" to "collapse of DC" very quickly. Was there any parental involvement in the decision to leave? Any discussions with the head of year or subject tutors? Any discussion on possible alternative approaches?

It IS a shame, but maybe this episode will be enlightenging to your DC. Most of us come up against really difficult problems and decisions, whether it be during school, what to do at Uni, choosing a first job, partner, house etc.

I wish you both the best. You sound like a very caring Mum. Have you considered talking to the school to maybe help you be at peace with the past (sorry, that sounds a bit dramatic!).

gingeroots Mon 04-Jul-11 15:41:36

Thanks bonkers - DC did really bad in modules and mocks after Christmas ,but it was only a couple of modules so not end of the world .
DC however seemed more upset than I've ever seen before ,but i saw this as a good sign really as normally DC too laid back for my liking .

There was no expression of concern from school and teachers at the parents evening . They did go through what steps needed to be taken to improve but also reinforced previous comments about what a lot of progress had been made .

I don't know what happened at school or really what was said ,but DC went in one day shortly after parents evening as normal but came back in great distress as though some sudden realisation that not going to get good grades ( i.e . below a C ) so not worth staying on .

School didn't try and dissuade or contact me and although I exchanged a few emails , didn't express any views ,one way or other ,re staying on .
DC just became adamant about not going back despite me trying to persuade to at least finish one subject .
I can't believe that I had so little influence .

But you're right - maybe it's good experience in decision making .

cricketballs Mon 04-Jul-11 18:53:54

binkers20; they receive the information from a wealth of data and as noble has said, they don't take into account the 'child' just the data.

For example, I am form tutor to a young lady whose passion is dance and drama and spends her free time undertaking these as a hobby. FFT however are not aware of this and her targets in these areas are what you may think of as average whereas she is at a level 8 in these subjects!

basingstoke Mon 04-Jul-11 19:16:19

FFT targets can be bonkers. I did the shock face for real when I saw our GCSE targets for our current year 8s. Madness.

I would contact the teachers and ask. We would certainly not be expecting a level 5 in a MFL after one year, and make that clear to parents.

Have you only received this report with levels. We send out levels and comments on effort every half term.

IHeartKingThistle Mon 04-Jul-11 19:25:06

Gingerroots - sorry, I only just read your post. What a sad situation - I can't believe the school didn't fight for her. It's great she's going back to college. I'm sure she'll look back and remember that you supported her in the decision she made.

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