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what levels would you be expecting clever Y7s

(45 Posts)
realcoalfire Thu 29-Nov-12 19:10:18

to be achieving at this point of the year?

ibizagirl Sat 01-Dec-12 08:44:28

Dd clever in top set and was getting 7A in some subjects in year 7. Most of her classmates were 5's and some 6's. She knows this because the teacher reads the levels out in class! Maths was given as level 8 then she did her gcse.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 22:03:22

I think the point about sublevels is a side issue, tbh. When I'm talking about what I do, I'm talking about how I establish whether a child in my class - we have a large number of new arrivals and a somewhat mobile population - is on P levels, level 1, level 2, level 3 or level 4, and then how I find out whether they are making progress and, where they are NOT making progress, what the barriers are.

Whether I attach a 'sublevel' letter to that is mostly irrelevant - what is really important is that they are being taught the right curriculum to move them forward from where they are [so where they sit in my 5 or so way differentiated plannoing for each lesson] and whether they ARE making progress or whether they are 'stuck' on something.

noblegiraffe Fri 30-Nov-12 21:39:12

By the way, a kid getting a level 6 in an exam also still doesn't tell you whether they can find the volume of a cuboid. Maybe that kid can do Pythagoras and solve area of circle questions (level 7), but is dyspraxic and can't draw and measure angles or use a pair of compasses. It's an average.

It really annoys me when I see parents getting concerned about sub levels, thinking that they mean something, berating their child for 'not making any progress' in a few months when you wouldn't expect a change in sub level anyway. Or for not making 2 sub levels progress in exactly one year as if progress should be linear.

Tracking sheets and so on are useful but they are misused in an attempt to provide meaningless data to schools and a government who can't help but try to micromanage something as nebulous as learning.

noblegiraffe Fri 30-Nov-12 21:30:43

You can't level them on a single test either! None of our tests are levelled. An exam which covers all topics over a few levels is as good an indictor of achievement as you're going to get, in a subject where the entire outcome is decided by a couple of two hour papers.

Note that they don't have sub levels at GCSE.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 30-Nov-12 21:29:55

And there is the added complication where a child has very poor literacy skills, but needs to be taught and assessed in Science. We have whole classes (of 20+) with reading ages below 7. It is tricky.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 21:19:38

However, I do also appreciate that noblegiraffe teaches in a school where all children are 'set' and so has a restricted range in any one class. I perhaps do need more awareness of where children are across the whole class because there is such a huge variation (from below Level 1 to mid Level 4) and so am effectively juggling a whole set of schemes of work - from that for reception to that for year 5 or so - at the same time and need to know what to select from each for each small group of children.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 21:14:00

(I appreciate the pragmatic point that changes in GCSEs are moving us to a point where students are assessed purely by single, high stakes assessments and that there is a logic in secondary schools preparing them for this in earlier years. However i would perhaps have expected a slightly more nuanced response that appreciated that this is a pragmatic response and does not preclude a teacher having a good understanding from other routes of where each child is working even before formal testing is done.)

ravenAK Fri 30-Nov-12 21:12:20

Bloody sublevels!

We have colour-coded trackers.

In the Summer term, the cells go pink if child is above end of year target, green if hitting target, amber if a sublevel below & red if more than a sublevel below.

They are supposed to make two sublevels/year, so the cell goes green in Autumn if two sublevels below & in Spring if one sublevel.

Obviously I have no unscrupulous colleagues who simply input whatever the 'green' value would be for the vast majority of every class, with three or four 'oranges', one 'red' & half a dozen 'pinks' to make a pretty pattern & a positive residual. Oh no.

Anyway, OP, where I teach we'd reckon level 6s indicated top set material in English - level 7 would be impressive. We'll have a couple of level 7s in year 7, but even the future A*/As (usually about 22-25% of cohort) will usually range from 6c upwards at year 7. They do have two more years to go in KS3!

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 21:05:50

"And a student producing a piece of work that is levelled at a 6 is not the same thing as saying that that student is a 6 in that subject."

Absolutely agree - which is why continuously assessing over a whole body of work over a period of time is what I've been talking about.

Though tbh I do find someone saying that 'you can't level a child by a single piece of work but you can level them on a single test' slightly contradictory....

noblegiraffe Fri 30-Nov-12 21:01:40

I follow the SOW, so in terms of what topic I'll teach next, that's already decided. The kids are set, which makes it a lot easier.

What level I take it to is decided by the class. I'm constantly assessing them. I do a bunch of examples, questioning as I go along helps me figure out who's getting it and where the problems are. Then after I think people are getting there, I'll give a question for the class to do in their book independently. Then I'll ask who got it right. Do they want another question as a class or are they happy to do some independent work? Depending on what they say, I'll go through it again, or set them off on an exercise while I then go and help individuals who are still struggling. I set homework, mark it, and then go through bits they all found hard. If they are finding the examples easy, I'll push them harder than the SOW suggests. I've got a stack of textbooks in my classroom, I may well abandon my original worksheet and flick through to find an easier or harder exercise, or make up my own questions on the spot.

Today with my Y9 bottom set we were going to be multiplying decimals. It turned out that they couldn't multiply whole numbers, so we spent the whole lesson on that. Next lesson we might attempt decimals. My lesson planning is quite ad-hoc to be honest, and levels vary from lesson to lesson.

Our baseline assessment isn't levelled, by the way (neither are any of our termly tests until the May exams) so no, we couldn't give that level. When the SATs boycott was happening, we did do levelled baseline assessments (proper SATs paper style) and so we do have a reasonable idea of how much the SATs levels are over-assessed (hothousing etc) by the time they get to secondary.

Re tracking in other schools, as I said, levels are designed to track progress between key stages, and sub levels are made up. So no, I don't think that any school could produce reliable numerical tracking data that is that fine tuned to produce accurate sublevels of progress over the course of a year. And a student producing a piece of work that is levelled at a 6 is not the same thing as saying that that student is a 6 in that subject.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:55:42

Understood, TFM. At the levels I teach, in the subjects I have to report on, it is still very skills-based - a child who uses a variety of punctuation in every piece of independent writing in class is unlikely to omit everything in a test (and the body of work from regular independent writing is a much better indication that they can really do it) and equally a child who has never used a full stop in their life is unlikely to suddenly punctuate accurately on a test paper. The element of 'remembering stuff' (with perhaps the single exception of some written maths methods and a times table fact or two) is a very much smaller component.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 30-Nov-12 20:51:04

It's essential to drive progress for us, but little use as a grade predictor because it doesn't take into account the need to remember stuff in the exam!

Parents like the levels and the grades though...

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:45:57

TFM, I think we are saying pretty much the same thing - that continuous formative assessment is vital, but not because it gives 'a level'. As it happens, in the subjects where I have to report levels, the skills that I am continuously assessing do map pretty well to level descriptors as the levels in, say, writing, are very skills-based for the earlier levels that are relevant to me. So I can 'double use' the information I collect daily - which I agree may well be very different for you.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 30-Nov-12 20:42:23

See, that last sentence I agree with. It's the formalising into a level I take issue with.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:41:06


I can see that as the 'only 1 bite at the cherry, no modules, no retaking, final exam' model is reintroduced and reinforced at the end of secondary, it may well be that the mindset and thinking will trickle back down into primary.

I teach an age range where children are still learning 'how to take tests effectively' as well as 'how to do the things that the tests are testing' and so I believe that or young children it is sensible to maintain multiple ways of working out what a child can do, at least until their 'test technique' is on a par with their 'subject ability'. I do also believe that daily formative assessment is what keeps children moving forward, even if that is never 'formalised' into a level judgement

TheFallenMadonna Fri 30-Nov-12 20:40:07


Not having reliable levels doesn't mean we don't report levels frequently.


TheFallenMadonna Fri 30-Nov-12 20:38:27

Massive x post.

In both key stage 4 and 5, we track progress in two ways. We have end of unit tests, which we do grade or level, but which we acknowledge as a snapshot of attainment, and we also continually assess the development of key skills that we have identified as common across different topics. We use the results of these assessments in our planning. Level and grade descriptors are of less use to us really. Our skills assessments are comment only marked.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 30-Nov-12 20:32:30

Some of our feeder schools admit to not teaching Science in year 6. Yet our year 7s start with TAs in which we need to make three levels of progress.

In secondary, as I said before, we are judged against exam results ourselves of course. They are what ultimately matter. Different way of thinking?

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:31:23

Also, again as a general query Noble, do you think that the 'don't know any reliable levels until May' thing is typical in secondary? A relative of mine is a head in a very challenging school, and I know he was hoping for Ofsted to come after half term, as he 'would have clear evidence of progress from all the children as a result of new initiatives' by then. I'd kind of assumed that meant that some kind of tracking data was collected at that kind of time interval for each pupil, but maybe it is only in some schools or I had misunderstood through coming at it from a different perspective IYSWIM.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 20:28:17


I don't actually put any work at all into Y6 SATS as I don't teach that year group.

However, just as a general thought - one of the reasons I find tracking (of whatever kind - continuous formative assessment, if you like) useful is because it makes each child's next steps so clear and it guides what I teach next. I know that I don't have to attach a 'level' to that for it to be useful, obviously, and in fact the levels are a 'byproduct' of the useful formative assessment, rather than levels telling me what I need to do next IYSWIM.

If you don't truly assess where each child is and what they can do until May of their first year, what is it that informs your teaching? Or is it that you 'teach the syllabus / scheme of work' to everyone and hope that enough sticks at the right level for them to move forward? Or is it that you DO do the formative assessment thing in every lesson, but what you don't do is any collection of that knwledge into a 'level judgement' of any kind?

Just curious, really. (Also, if you diregard SATs but do your own baseline assessment, surely your answer to the OP is 'the level they got in their baseline assessment', not 'their SATS level'?)

noblegiraffe Fri 30-Nov-12 19:29:37

It's the official KS2 results which are used to generate targets in secondary. To be honest, we don't pay that much attention to SATs otherwise and base setting on our own assessments. I might make a note of level 6s or < level 4's before I meet a class, but that would be test scores, not teacher assessments. When so many different teachers have done these assessments, across different schools, they're not really comparable. At least with SATs they all sat the same test.

Sorry, probably not what you want to hear when you put so much work into them!

Startail Fri 30-Nov-12 19:27:45

Also Y7s are put in the wrong sets, then they are working at the wrong level and it is complete and utter bollocks.

Only when DD1 was put up to set 2 for maths and had worked her way to the top of that in Y9 did we get a maths level that is actually a pointer to what she is capable of at GCSE.

Her maths teacher admitted to hating sub levels.

OK a dyslexic child who will never know her tables, can't read an analogue clock, but does algebra and complex stuff with very little effort is not typical, but she does highlight the problem of single snap shot tests.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 19:21:13

[Oh, and your last point is why I said 'APP style'. We don't, for example, use APP for reading BUT we use the fundamental approach of collecting evidence over time from a variety of sources to track progress in reading against level statements IYSWIM. It's not 'pure APP as the manuals say', but it has the fundamental attributes of 'assessing from a range of evidence'.]

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Nov-12 19:18:44


I'm not saying that one method of assessment is better than another - just surprised that the change of approach was so dramatic between primary and secondary tbh..

But (being contrary here), does that mean that you only accept actual SATs test result levels as end of Year 6 achievements? Not the teacher assessments which accompany them? Even if e.g. little Johnny fluked [was coached to] passing the Level 6 paper but the TA said he was a clear level 5? Or if the test was capped at Level 5 but the teacher assessment showed the child to be a clear level 6?

noblegiraffe Fri 30-Nov-12 19:11:29

Collections of evidence are all well and good, but sublevels are still ill-defined and subjective.

I can collect evidence that says that a kid could do everything on the (vague) list of level 6 topics when I taught them in class. They might successfully complete home works on these topics. Are they a 6a? Have they had help? Copied their homework? They then sit the end of year test. They don't revise very well, make silly mistakes, forget how to do half the stuff (perfectly normal). They scrape into the level 6 boundary. Are they a 6c? Have they gone down two sublevels? Or is the test a more reliable indicator of what they can do at that instant in time than what it looked like they could do throughout the year?

At the end of the day in maths, they will be assessed by a test, and it is test performance that counts.

And those massive grids of APP stuff look like a huge tick-box exercise in subjective assessment. How many questions does Little Johnny need to get right to get a tick in 'can add decimals'? Shouldn't they only be completed for a handful of kids per class anyway to track how the class is doing?

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