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Wish all work was marked with NC levels!

(23 Posts)
LittenTree Wed 03-Jul-13 20:45:56

I like NC levels. I was initially sceptical but boy, they so help you see how much progress has been made and where your DC sits either in comparison to the school or nationally.

DS1, good state comp, has just done his end of Y9 science exam and got an 'A'. Great. But what does that mean? I don't get why the school measures some stuff in NC levels, others in A-E.

His upcoming end of year report will be interesting, but will it, like mine used to, have a 'classwork' mark and an exam mark? So will one say 7L (low) and the other 'A'?!


As an aside, a work colleague is in a bit of a dilemma. Her DS is in Y9 at an indie which they're struggling to afford. Her DS2 really wasn't revising or showing any interest in his end of year exams and she was tearing her hair out. The parents have gone as far as to see if there are places at the local highly regarded comps for Y10 which I am a bit confused about but she readily says they've gone private for exam grades, not the 'art/sport/music' that everyone spouts. Anyway, he got an A for science and for maths. Despite apparently not revising. She doesn't know what to think as she wonders if the school have got wind of their possible defection? And what does 'A' mean? Good for what? Against what?

Good point.

pointythings Wed 03-Jul-13 21:06:10

DD's secondary does mark everything with NC levels, and it is useful - especially in topic tests where you can tell where their strengths and weaknesses are in different areas within the same subject. The detail is what's useful far more than the overall level.

BooksandaCuppa Wed 03-Jul-13 21:48:55

Could it be that your friend's son is either very bright and did not need to revise or actually did more than she thought?

I doubt the school would give an A just because they'd got wind he might leave!

Ds's school gives exam marks as a % and then tell you where he is in his set and year (in most subjects). It is within the context that they've already told you at parents' evening that a certain set is already working within level 7 or something but it's still not as helpful necessarily as full nc levels.

cardibach Wed 03-Jul-13 21:55:37

National Curriculum levels have their place, but actually in most subjects you can't realistically level any one piece of work. I am an English teacher and if you look at the level statements they are talking about a range of work. Any mark for a single piece is notional and doesn't really mean anything.
The school should have a marking policy, though, so the marks given in all subjects follow the same system.

emilialuxembourg Wed 03-Jul-13 21:56:21

DD age 7 is moving to a prep from state in September. They don't do NC levels. I will miss knowing where she's at. Does it matter?

Niceweather Thu 04-Jul-13 06:22:38

Cardibach Thanks for that - I have a large page of DS's Level Descriptors for English and am thinking "how on earth is he going to get a tick on each one of these boxes?"

cricketballs Thu 04-Jul-13 06:30:06

the other point to make is that levels are on there way here although most schools will continue to use NC levels until the 'good practice' that is highlighted becomes what Ofsted want

SprinkleLiberally Thu 04-Jul-13 06:37:42

Most individual pieces of work cannot be level marked. An exam testing knowledge and retention rather than lots of extended writing and understanding, really can't be levelled. I mean you can stick a level on but it won't mean anything.

BrianButterfield Thu 04-Jul-13 07:14:09

Niceweather - let the English teachers worry about that. Seriously, it's our job to cover all the level descriptors. Why would you even more than glance at them? They're just waffle and they don't really tell you anything about your child.

Niceweather Thu 04-Jul-13 09:01:06

I am trying to get him to understand what is required to pass his English GCSEs and what examiners are after. Isn't it about ticking the correct boxes? He is fine with the creative side of it.

Theas18 Thu 04-Jul-13 09:58:52

nc levels or not, don't worry your child, and the school will know where they are and what there target is. : believe nc levels are going anyway?

Loshad Thu 04-Jul-13 14:12:22

It is quite probable that if he is at the end of year 9 he has started GCSE work, and so the A may relate to GCSE grade. We do NC levels in my subject until Easter of y9 , and then they start GCSe work so the tests they do in the summer term are graded A, B, C etc. However confusingly the summer report will give the students final KS3 level, ie the data from before they started on the GCSE course, and so is given in levels grin

TeenAndTween Thu 04-Jul-13 14:13:26

At DDs school, once they have started GCSE syllabus, they get GCSE grades not NC levels. So for science and RE in Y9 she gets a letter not a number. (But all the other subjects are an NC level).

The grade means "if they took the GCSE tomorrow, but only on the cut down syllabus they have been taught so far, this is the grade they would get".

Maybe clarify with the school whether they use the same system?

LittenTree Thu 04-Jul-13 14:50:06

You've hit a nail on the head, there teen- what does 'A' or 'B' mean other than that given on the GCSE document? I'd've thought that a system where they carried on getting NC levels up to the GCSEs might work, then a final level translates as a grade.

I will be interested to see how DS1's report is graded next week!

TheFallenMadonna Thu 04-Jul-13 23:11:40

Marking every piece of work with a NC level is potentially very misleading, and not what levels are for.

And yes, the A is likely to be a notional GCSE grade. I'm not thrilled about doing that either really, as I think levels and grades should be for significant bodies of work, as the end of key stage and GCSE assessments will be. My department is moving to fewer reported grades/levels in fact.

noblegiraffe Fri 05-Jul-13 10:17:52

Levelling children in maths is basically bollocks unless it is a significant end of year exam that covers all aspects of the curriculum, usually a SATs paper.

In maths topics are levelled, so Pythagoras is a level 7 topic. This is fair enough. But if you set a load of Pythagoras questions and someone gets them all wrong, that doesn't make them a level 6. If they get them all right, it doesn't make them a level 7 - because that might be the only level 7 topic they have figured out so far. So the work might be a level 7, but the child isn't, IYSWIM.

And don't get me started on sublevels.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 11:38:25

noble- I have to say I am interested that you say 'Levelling children in maths is basically bollocks unless it is a significant end of year exam that covers all aspects of the curriculum' yet you have just, on another thread, told me that my DS getting a D in an end of year exam, one year prior to its GCSE was 'probably nothing to worry about'... hmm...

Are they or aren't they?

noblegiraffe Fri 05-Jul-13 11:47:55

You appear to be completely confused by what I'm saying.

My point with maths is that you cannot look at a piece of work a child has done and say 'that child is working at a level 5'. You can say 'that's a level 5 topic, and they've got most of it right/wrong' but that doesn't make the child a level 5 or otherwise. If the child sits a comprehensive SATs exam at the end of the year and it comes out that they got a level 5, that would be a better estimate of their abilities in maths.

Your child getting a D in an exam in Y9, preparing for a GCSE course at the end of Y10, as the teacher explained to you on the phone, wasn't anything to worry about.

I believe that referring to one thread on another is considered poor etiquette btw.

LittenTree Fri 05-Jul-13 11:51:38

I believe contradicting yourself on one thread to another is pretty slack, btw.

Startail Fri 05-Jul-13 11:58:20

Yes, DD1's maths teacher hates having to level each piece of work for Y7s as they can be very good at one skill and not have mastered another.
Levels going up and down and not appearing to show progress throw parents totally.

It would be far better to give marks out of ten or red, amber, green for individual skills and a average level on Christmas and Summer reports.

noblegiraffe Fri 05-Jul-13 12:53:01

I didn't contradict myself at all, Litten, because my comments are talking about completely different things. Maybe you should read my post a bit more carefully.

Blissx Fri 05-Jul-13 15:35:52

I understand what noblegiraffe is saying - for levelling, it is pretty subjective with vague descriptives being interpreted in different ways across each teacher, let alone across different schools. When it is a set test marked against absolutes, then it has more meaning and this was the way it was orginally intended to be used; as end of key stage tests.

However, the advice on the other thread from noblegiraffe was that the D in itself is nothing to worry about at this stage - not that the D was not accurately awarded (which is what is being said about the levels). I think you want to read what you want to read into it, to be honest OP.

Besides, levels have been misused by OFSTED and filtered down through schools - hence they are now being scrapped. They were meant to be end of KEY STAGE descripters for age groups (An A at 16 is not the same as an A at 9, for example) However, OFSTED used it to measure progress so Primaries were forced to increase levels up to 5 (which should have been for end of Year 9) and Secondaries in turn forced to inflate to Level 7+ at end of Year 9 (GCSE Level). The introduction of sub levels was never intended by its inventor Dylan Williams, which has made the Levels meaningless. I'm sorry; it is useful as a parent to have something to measure against, but in this case, it has become meaningless, I'm afraid.

MadameDefarge Fri 05-Jul-13 15:53:34

er, litten, no need to be so blinking rude to someone who is trying to help. I have read both threads and noble is very clear. If you are struggling to understand, ask nicely.

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