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"Well below target" - does this actually mean anything?

(15 Posts)
Brokenbiscuit Wed 24-May-17 13:16:53

DD is in Year 7. Her school has recently started using Go4Schools to track pupil progress, and parents can log on to see the records for their child. I logged on today for the first time.

The system shows an aspirational target for each subject, as well as a "working at" grade as well. It also generates a graph that shows whether dc is on target, below target, above target etc. This seems to be based on the difference between the aspirational targets and the "working at" grades. It is this graph that I don't really understand.

My dd is very bright, and to the best of my knowledge, she has been doing very well in school - excellent reports, parents' evenings etc. I was therefore surprised to find that she is "below target" or "well below target" in all but two of her subjects. She is "on target" for the other two.

I'm not really clear as to what the "working at" grades really mean. Are they supposed to indicate the grade that dd would get in her GCSEs if she continues to work and make progress as she is working and progressing at present? If that's the case, then dd is apparently underperforming quite significantly. However, this doesn't seem to tie in with the feedback that we have had so far.

Or are they supposed to be a rough indication of the level at which dd is currently working at, and of the grade that she might reasonably expect to get if she sat the exam tomorrow? But if that's the case, surely all year 7 kids should be "below target" because they haven't yet covered most of the syllabus? So the graph would appear to be rather meaningless because dd might be doing really well but still be "well below target"? Also, if the grades are what dd might reasonably expect to get in an exam tomorrow, how can it be possible for her to be "on target" for two of her subjects already?confused

Or have I completely misunderstood the system and neither of the above interpretations are correct? I know I'll be advised to ask the school, but the teachers are all so busy that I'd rather figure it out myself if I can, and not bother them. The explanation on the school website doesn't really shed any light.

Thanks all!

TeenAndTween Wed 24-May-17 13:33:38

I have a y7 too. At her school 'working well below' refers to year group expectations rather than targets (and means working at least a year behind).

That obviously isn't the case here.

this is my guess

I suspect that she got good SATs last year.
So say for arguments sake she scored an average of 115.
They would be 'targeting' her to get grade 8 for GCSEs (old A*).

So they will have an idea where she needs to be by this time in y7 to still be 'on target' to get to where they want her to get to. This would be 'working at'. If she is doing even better that would be 'working above' and if she is doing worse then that would be 'working below' or 'working well below'.

Obviously there are some flaws with this system
- SAT results may be overinflated making targets too high (e.g. if your school did loads of practicing and booster classes)
- they try to predict other things like MFLs from SATs
- progress isn't linear

The other possibility is they are doing current attainment against end of year target attainment but that would be daft as everyone would almost always be working below until the end of the summer term.

Does any of this make sense in your situation? Especially where her SAT results even better than you might have expected?

TeenAndTween Wed 24-May-17 13:35:15

were her SATs

FATEdestiny Wed 24-May-17 13:38:35

You need to ask the school. They all track in slightly different ways.

Our school has predicted grades, based on quite a complex set of days. We call this "Expected" grade. Then the "working at" grade is the year-group scaled equivalent of that grade. Then a traffic light to indicate If at any given time the child is working above, at, below or very below expected level.

Working example:

Subject 1
Expected = B
Working At = B
Green (working at expected level)

Subject 2
Expected = C
Working At = A
Purple (working above expected level)

Subject 3
Expected = A
Working At = B
Yellow (working below expected level)

Subject 4
Expected = B
Working At = D
Red (working significantly below expected level)

Brokenbiscuit Wed 24-May-17 14:03:17

Thanks Teen, that's helpful.

Her SATS were indeed very good but not unexpectedly so - the primary school was pretty low key about the SATS and she didn't do loads of practice. Overall, I think the scores were representative of her actual ability, so I'd be a bit concerned with her being below target if it's against where they would expect to be on the basis of the SATS. However that still doesn't seem to fit with the really positive feedback that she has had from her tutors so far. confused

TeenAndTween Wed 24-May-17 16:27:48

Query it with the school.

noblegiraffe Wed 24-May-17 16:37:15

These targets are utter balls. Total nonsense.

By all means ask her teachers why they are grading her well below expected but if the other feedback you are getting is that she is doing well in class and working well, then I wouldn't be particularly worried.

Brokenbiscuit Wed 24-May-17 18:12:40

Thank you Noble. To be honest, I'm not really worried as my gut tells me that she is doing fine. That's partly why I really don't want to make more work for the teachers by asking them for an explanation.

I'm just a bit puzzled, I guess. confused

Chewbecca Wed 24-May-17 21:35:34

I can't answer your own query as all schools use different systems these days but I can relay my own story.
DS was/is very good at/keen on history & often got top marks. Last year we knew his result was higher than the 25th centile in his year group - that was as precise as you knew but good enough for us.
This year, system switches to emerging/exceeding/expected.
He next report shows 'emerging'. At parents evening we query and are told that all the children are emerging, it was impossible to get anything else.
So until we actually spoke to the teacher, we had no idea. Very silly of the school IMO as we need to speak to them to find out the story behind every subject.

So don't worry until you've spoken to the teacher!

Asuitablemum Wed 24-May-17 21:37:07

Could it be that they're not very good at updating the system? I'm expect school teachers do update in are but I remember when my preschooler had swimming lessons, the online progress tracker would still be at e.g.'can splash hands' When she could already jump in and swim 5 metres. They just didn't update often!

TuppenceForYou Wed 24-May-17 21:40:30

I am sorry I cannot enlighten you OP, as its like Chinese to me, all this.

I think its a waste of time all this tracking nonsense, meaningless.

And often the schools don't bother to explain to the parents so its even more meaningless. A waste of everybody's time IMO, but part of the obsession with measuring everything.

stuntcamel Wed 24-May-17 21:55:51

My friend's very bright dd had this all the way through secondary school and it was particularly bad in Y9 and 10. The reason? Her targets were A* in every single subject.

She could have been achieving A's in everything and still be below her expected target, and it was impossible for her to achieve above the target since it was set at A*, and she couldn't get any higher than that. She got very demoralised and frustrated for a while.

Traalaa Thu 25-May-17 08:08:50

DS's school refuse to give kids a target higher than A, so that's a 7 now (I think!). It doesn't mean you can't get the old A*, etc, as if you do then you're graded for each report as 'above track'. I approve as otherwise it's an incredible pressure on the kids.

mimbleandlittlemy Thu 25-May-17 15:46:28

You sometimes get this with, say, a language. DS went into secondary with Level 6 SATs so the computer crunched that he should be on a Level 6 for German by the end of Y7. He wasn't and nor did the language department expect him to be as they don't anticipate kids who have never done a language to suddenly be at a ludicrous level. Effectively he was working well below his target but everyone knew the target was computer generated not set by a human. Personally I would suggest they set it by a human then but that seems to be impossible.

sheepskinshrug Fri 26-May-17 01:37:06

In my experience targets are a load of rubbish. I admit I got a bit frustrated with them in Year 7, they were either much too high or much too low, I spoke to the school and began to understand why they are so meaningless.
However, if you are concerned about your dc's progress talk to the school.

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