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Confusing Assessment Grades Tell Me Nothing

(17 Posts)
ItsDecisionTime Mon 04-Nov-13 23:29:26

DDs school (independent) have changed the way they assess pupil performance by comparing them against the other pupils in their set (which is their class except for maths) They have an attainment and an effort grade:

EX - Consistently well above the rest of the set (top 5%)
AA - Regularly well above the rest of the set (next 20%)
AV - Average level of attainment across the group (50% of set)
BA - Below average in the group (bottom 25%)

1-4 where 1 is the lowest and 4 the highest.

AV - 3 is apparently the benchmark level to show they are achieving what is expected of them in their set.

My first problem is I don't really care how well she is performing against other members of her class. It's a nice piece of supplementary information but I do expect her to be taught as an individual, not as a member of a pack.

Secondly, if she is a high performing member of a low achieving class, how would I know? Ditto if she performs comparatively poorly in a high performing class?

Her report was good, not fabulous. She got one EX, four AAs, five AVs and 1 BA. The BA was for Maths and she's in the top set. Last term she was 3rd in the whole year so either something has happened for her performance to drop dramatically or the difference between EX and BA is so negligible she's still in the top 15 of the year. Who knows.

Finally, DD and her friend have exactly the same report (apart from two subjects where one of them performs better than the other). You could almost have photocopied one and given it to the other. However, the other girl's parents have been told she is performing way higher than everyone else in the class and they want her to move up a set into the Exceptional Performers class.

This seems to confirm my feelings that the assessment method is absolutely useless and tells a parent nothing whatsoever. AIBU to expect a more objective assessment method with clear factual measurement of performance and for it to be clear to me that DD is on track for her age group. I also think a phone call would have been order to explain DDs drop in Maths grade. But perhaps I completely misunderstand the process. Are there any teachers out there with experience of a similar methodology and where it adds value?

noblegiraffe Tue 05-Nov-13 22:07:15

No experience of it, but it's shit. You need an objective measurement so that your DD can measure her own progress towards a defined target. Who cares what the rest of the class is doing?

How is your DD supposed to know if she is making any progress if she is only ever being told how she is doing against her peers? She could be at the bottom of a high achieving group and working towards an A* or at the top of a low achieving group and heading towards a D.

Blu Wed 06-Nov-13 08:02:12

So a student could continue to excel (or otherwise) at the same level but get a wildly different Attainment level simply because other people had upped or dropped their game? OK in a hockey tournament, not OK for measuring the effectiveness of one child's education.

It's League Tables Gorn Mad!

I would write.

Bonsoir Wed 06-Nov-13 08:12:32

I don't think it is uninteresting to know where a DC is performing versus peers because DC do measure themselves versus their immediate peer group and this impacts performance.

But of course you also require some external targets and benchmarks.

stillenacht Wed 06-Nov-13 08:15:46

Urgh school reporting is rubbish nowadays with statements, levels that don't wholly fit the child. I teach 300 kids and I would prefer if we could just write a sentence on each child rather than lists of numbers and letters!

ancientbuchanan Wed 06-Nov-13 08:19:31

I would think it wouldn't help the confidence of those who were absolute high performers but relatively weak against their set, either.

The effort side is recognisable, it's the attainment that isn't helpful.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 06-Nov-13 08:56:25

That does sound pretty mad - because clearly 25% of them are going to get BAs which sounds bad but gives you no indication of the actual level or range of the class!

DD1's school give the child's exam result and the median mark in each end of year report, which is interesting, but apart from that, you just want to know how your child is really doing, don't you?

TellNoOneOK Thu 07-Nov-13 14:35:21

All assessment is fundamentally done versus peers. It is better that this is done on a national level and not a classroom level, but this may also have its problems.

Nationally raw score grade boundaries have been reducing in some subjects. For OCR Gateway Biology Higher in June 2013 you needed to get 59% overall to get an A. In 2010 it was a more realistic sounding 74%.

In the same subject a C pass is now at 39% vs 53% in 2010.

wordfactory Thu 07-Nov-13 15:13:41

We get both OP.

A personal effort grade. An attainment grade. And any tests are marked and put in context of the year and the set average.

I do like to receive the later, as I have a fairly firm idea where my DC should sit regardless of the marking scheme IYSWIM. So 60% might be fab. It might be dire. You just cant tell wihtout the averages.

Bonsoir Thu 07-Nov-13 16:12:33

"All assessment is fundamentally done versus peers."

Modern international assessment (CEFR-linked, IELTS) is not done versus peers and is all the richer for it.

Bonsoir Thu 07-Nov-13 16:15:50

Thinking about it, quite a lot of the assessment I have seen as the DC have gone through school is not versus peers at all. In primary, the DSSs had booklets with lists of skills and they were marked "acquired" "on course" "beginner" (or something like that), and regularly updated. By the end of primary a child would ideally have "acquired" next to every skill.

LibraryBook Thu 07-Nov-13 18:04:57

It's very old fashioned. A modern and much more confusing version of 'position in form'. I wouldn't complain about being furnished with this information though, so long as it was accompanied by an individual report and individual targets.

Grammar school places are awarded in order of merit. As are places for the best universities. And places at selctive independent schools.

Nojustalurker Fri 08-Nov-13 06:24:00

I believe the current goverment has suggested a move away from levels to just style of reporting of 'progress' for state schools.

noblegiraffe Fri 08-Nov-13 07:53:14

Gove also suggested that schools should rank their students from top to bottom and post the rankings in the corridors.

Bonsoir Fri 08-Nov-13 10:41:04

In France, peer ranking is more widely used for access to HE than are public examination results.

This conveniently exonerates teachers from having to teach to external standards.

Kez100 Fri 08-Nov-13 14:19:39

That's what we had in our reports back in the dinosaur age of the 1970s!

My reports gave:

Test score : 32%
Place : 32/33
Comment : Kez100 needs to try harder

Apart from the indication I needed a kick up the backside it gave no information whatsoever.

At least with NC levels we had some idea of what was going on. AFAIK our school are sticking with 'the old' NC levels until they have another concrete measure to provide parents with.

LittleSiouxieSue Fri 08-Nov-13 19:30:19

We had "form orders" back in the day. We were ranked by marks for work and tests in all subjects. They then worked out a position 1-30 for all of us posted it in the classroom several times a term at my Grammar school. The Headmaster said it would turn the drones into worker bees! Don't think I ever escaped drone classification!
OP. You are right, it is pretty useless. DD2s prep school did this. When I challenged its worth as a measuring tool for progress, I was told that parents had requested it. This was a school that obtained umpteen scholarships to senior schools. We did get useful teachers' comments though but school did not do SATs so benchmarking was difficult for parents, hence the request. I just knew my DD wasn't top or bottom and that had to suffice.

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