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Can Somebody Talk Me Through This - Y7, Target Grading System

(22 Posts)
User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 19:08:27

DC is at a good grammar (one of the best in the county) and has come home totally demoralised this evening after being given a target score of 6/7 in three subjects so far. DC is comparing themselves to their circle of friends and others in the class who today, according to DC got 8/9's and others who got 7/8's meaning that dc was given one of the lowest target scores in the class (yet again).
I am assuming this is a predicted GCSE grade and I am not sure how they could possibly know what a child in year 7 is going to achieve - it seems incomprehensible to me. The teachers write the scores in their books during class which inevitably leads to the children comparing scores and dc came off poor in the high score stakes ( I understand there is going to be some super bright children at dc's school). I am fuming that dc currently feels inadequate in comparison, some might say that it might spur a child on to do better but in dc's case it has demotivated them. Help please, I naturally feel distressed that my child has been distressed and demoralized by this situation at this early stage I just want them to feel happy and confident and of course to try their best (usually dc tries hard at school). Any teachers out there or other parents facing a similar situation?

haba Fri 10-Nov-17 19:10:49

Have the school not given Parents any information about how they track in their school? All schools use their own individual systems now I'm afraid.
What were her KS2 results, as presumably the targets have come from there?

haba Fri 10-Nov-17 19:12:45

And, presumably your child was in a primary with children of all abilities? Do you think their parents were fuming because your able child had higher targets than theirs? Seems like an odd reaction to me.

roundaboutthetown Fri 10-Nov-17 19:31:39

It could be a minimum expected grade based on primary school SATs results, not for GCSEs as she won't be studying the GCSE syllabus, yet, but maybe for the end of the year or more likely for the end of KS3, given that you say it's a target. If she doesn't exceed that by the date set as the target date, then I guess they will start saying those are her minimum expected grades for GCSE, but the school will be wanting her to do better than that, anyway, or they won't be able to show they have added any value to your child's education.

User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 19:42:17

Thanks roundabout. We did have a talk from the school about it but the figures seem to come from here, there and everywhere, perhaps I need to take another look at it with dh who is far more logical. You are right about the value added thing, I am therefore surprised that they have given out so many high scores - it would seem a more logical method for them to set lower targets and look as if they are adding value when a child exceeds them. I am sure it is motivating for some (so long as the child does not then sit back, just because the child has been predicted to do well) but for children like my dc who finds themselves at the lower end of these targets, in comparison to their peers, it has been a demoralizing experience and I feel I ought to let the school know the effect it has had on my dc. Of course the children will be streamed at some point but in some ways this is a positive - the classes are smaller I believe at the lower end of the streaming, so at least you feel that dc is in some way being supported to improve, rather than just being left to compare.

MaisyPops Fri 10-Nov-17 19:47:39

I know this isn't helpful at all but it will bary school tos school.

That target may be their way of doing KS3 or it might be a gcse target from sats. We don't know.

What would bother me more (as a teacher) is a culture where students are placing such importance on an arbitrary target grade to the point where it gets children down. That strikes me as a horrible overly competitive culture.
Don't get me wrong, kids know where they are roughly in relation to others but not to tr point where kids start feeling crap for not having soem number to validate them despite being intelligent.

roundaboutthetown Fri 10-Nov-17 19:50:06

They can't lower the higher targets - they are stuck with them thanks to DfE statistics which extrapolate from how children do in primary SATs to tell schools what the minimum GCSE grades are that those children must achieve if the school wants to avoid being considered to have let the children down. This is not just done in English and maths - the DfE believes a child who is good at English and maths is also a genius at art and PE...

MaisyPops Fri 10-Nov-17 19:50:19

you are right about the value added thing, I am therefore surprised that they have given out so many high scores - it would seem a more logical method for them to set lower targets and look as if they are adding value when a child exceeds them
But artificially lowering targets doesn't add value.

E.g. Child X making expected progress would be a grade 7.
To add value Child X needs to get an 8 or 9

Setting Child X a target of a 6 doesn't mean value has been added if they get a 7.
If they get a 6 then that lowers the Progress 8 score.

roundaboutthetown Fri 10-Nov-17 19:52:47

Basically, your dd is in the enviable position of being more likely to make the school look good and herself feel good when she exceeds her targets, instead of being stuck in the stressful position of having to be brilliant in everything or feel she is letting herself down. That's the way you need to explain it to her!

User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 20:19:23

Maisy, I understand what you mean about making comparisons etc. but I think this is human nature especially for someone approaching their teens to make comparisons and look for validation. I still work hard at not making comparisons myself because I know it leads to unhappiness etc. but I'm not telling you how old I am, let's just say, it is old enough to know better!
Roundabout, that is a lovely perspective you have just given and worth remembering, I will mention it to dc, thank you for your words of wisdom. I do know other children at the top, top end of the system who fall apart if they get a B and not an A or do lousy in a test (one of these children who despite being outstandingly bright has certain issues with social interaction and shows OCD traits) that child is naturally bright but also had a lot of parental pressure applied to succeed/achieve - that can't be a nice way to live, always feeling as if you've got to prove yourself because at some point we all fail in life/nothing is perfect.

noblegiraffe Sat 11-Nov-17 00:26:06

There is nothing, anywhere that says it is a good idea to give kids GCSE target grades in Y7 and there is plenty of stuff out there saying that they shouldn't.

It's a pile of shit, your DD is caught up in it, the targets are bollocks and there is no way they can tell what your DD is going to achieve in exams 5 years from now, especially seeing as for most of those subjects, those exams have never even been sat and the standards for the grades won't be set until after they have been sat.

When the DfE scrapped levels, they thought that schools would replace them with a sensible system, but they haven't. They've replaced them with something worse. At some point (hopefully soon) it will all get burned to the ground and replaced with something else.

In the meantime, tell your DD chin-up and that there's still everything to play for. Target grades are not a promise and if she wants better than what she has been given, then now is a good time to start working for it.

noblegiraffe Sat 11-Nov-17 00:29:22

Schools aren't even measured against target grades. Your child's performance for the school will be measured against how she achieves compared to how other children with her KS2 scores achieve, not against some computer generated target grade 5 years previously based on zero data about actual exam performance in the new GCSE system and zero data about any exam performance based on new KS2 SATs scaled scores.

Soursprout Sat 11-Nov-17 01:25:10

I think most / all pupils are given target grades these days in schools. Dd certainly has from the beginning of secondary... first A-g grades and now 9-1 ( she’s in yr 10 a poorly performing comp)
Someone is always going to have the lowest score/ targets and yes someone else will be at the other end and feel the pressure of that. It’s difficult for both not to feel ranked

In both situations, it’s tempting, but just not useful as a parent to make comparisons to others whether they are above OR below . She needs to learn to use her own performance as a measure of progress and you need to be disciplined and focus in just on that too otherwise it’ll be horrible and stressful for you both. Other children’s grades are irrelevant .. it’s a blurry snapshot anyway.. not the bigger picture at all .

MaisyPops Sat 11-Nov-17 06:51:12

What I was meaning is that school cultures vary significantly.
E.g. when i give exam scores back, all students know that I don't accept the fuss tjat goes with it. I'm open about why too. All assessments test different skills. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have good days and bad days. So i have no doubt that students will talk later but in thr classroom i don't have any 'i did so rubbish. I only for 95%' when therr's someone working their socks off getting 75% and that's great for them.
I also tell students target grades (only given at y10+) are an indicator of where students with their ks2 profile are expected to be but really that's not the most important thing. As long as they work hard and listen to feedback then they aim as high as they can.
Students will compare. That's human. But when studnets are getting very upset then i think thr culture is wrong somewhere (either home or school).

roundaboutthetown Sat 11-Nov-17 08:59:17

It is definitely true that target grades at the moment must be a particular pile of crock if your dd is in year 7, User, because your dd is only the 2nd year of children to have done the new KS2 SATs and last year was the first year of maths and English GCSEs being done under the new grading system (and all other subjects were still under the old system and syllabus), although if they are going to fix the percentage of children able to get the highest GCSE grades, I guess they could still track that percentage back to the children who got the highest KS2 SATs standardised scores and say that they should be the ones getting them - even though that's just ridiculous on an individual level (and on every other level, imo!).

Personally, I don't like target grades. As a child, what I liked was for each piece of work I did to be given a mark to give me an idea of how much better the teacher thought it was possible to have done in accordance with her expectations when she set that piece of work, together with comments on what I did well and what I got wrong or could have done better. However, teachers don't have time for this level of perfection in marking everyone's work all of the time when they have multiple classes of 30 kids (except for maths, where it is much easier and quicker to assess right and wrong answers than say English or history!) and I think target grades are a cop out to make people think they have a clear idea of where everyone in the class is heading at all times, when actually they don't... because nobody heads anywhere in a straight line and some work they do may be brilliant and other work significantly less good, with no-one having a clear idea of how this will track into exam results until year 11, when it is evident how hard the child has worked over a long period of time, how hard they have revised, how good their exam technique is by then, and how well they cope with exams. I would still maintain, though, that your dd's targets are better ones to have than those of the children needing to get 8s and 9s, as they will never get the pleasure of feeling that they have surpassed expectations thanks to their own hard work - they will just have to run to keep up with themselves.

roundaboutthetown Sat 11-Nov-17 09:14:35

To do better, what you need is to know what you need to work on - eg spelling, punctuation, grammar, legibility of handwriting, speed of working in tests, recall of facts, comprehension of questions... if your dd knows what is making her work a 6 and what could make it a 9, then she knows what to do to improve. A number without the feedback is useless to her.

noblegiraffe Sat 11-Nov-17 09:56:01

To add more confusion, those target grades, the computer generated ones based on KS2 SATs results will possibly change every year. Computer generated target grades are regenerated every year once Y11 have sat their GCSEs to reflect how that year's cohort actually performed compared to their KS2 results.

It's very frustrating working to a particular set of targets all Y10 (remember teachers are scrutinised heavily against these), then having them change for Y11.

RedSkyAtNight Sat 11-Nov-17 12:03:01

You realise that this target is an artificially generated value based on a small number of inputs (quite probably one off tests)? It doesn't mean that this is the result your child is likely to get at GCSE in 5 years time or reflect how they compare against their peers (except that their peers did better in whatever tests where used as inputs).

DD, having spent most of her primary years working well ahead of year group expectations in maths, inexplicably did worse that expected in her maths SATS. Unfortunately her secondary school uses this mark to set her target for maths and science and has therefore targeted her a 4. DD (unprompted) has realised that she is capable of better than this and has told me she intends to aim for a 7!
I've told her that the target is more for the school and she should aim to do her best, regardless of the target.

User45632874 Sat 11-Nov-17 17:32:05

RedSky, that is interesting about your dd doing well throughout primary and then getting a low target score because of one of test. DC's sats scores were not particularly high from memory. At DC's primary there were two girls who were expected to pass the 11+ top set and excelled in practically everything, high sats scores too probably but both girls failed the 11+ test - one I know was wracked with nerves and not good at sitting tests, the other was quite cocky and told my dc the test was easy - only to go on and fail!
We feel much calmer today and have been able to put things in perspective, dc seems to have shrugged it off for the time being (but is determined to try their best) which is promising. I realise that having a lower target mark means that dc can more easily exceed it where as other children are going to have a hell of a lot of pressure potentially to maintain their targets so perhaps it is for the best. DC has a lot of maturing to do and we really believe they can given time exceed this target or meet a 7. also keeps calm in tests etc. DC has got into the better grammar in the county (we thought they might just scrape into the slightly lesser ranking one) but the consequence of this is that they find themselves at the bottom of the pile. I still think it is a good thing though, yes expectations are high but the school has a good reputation and hoping dc will be inspired and learn from those around them (rather than be demoralized) and hopefully build resilience as well. Thank you all so much for your replies, I have found the whole thing a bit bewildering tbh.

lilybookins Sat 11-Nov-17 17:39:53

So target grades are worked out on KS2 SATs? I don’t know if my daughter’s school does this. If they are, what is the general rule of thumb ? I.e. are scores over 117 in SATs an 8 or 9 or is it only a 120 a 9 ? Totally in the dark about this, didn’t know SATs were used for this, thought it was CAT tests that perhaps determined predicted grades ?

FanDabbyFloozy Sat 11-Nov-17 18:03:29

I don't want to sound harsh so apologies if this sounds that way, but this is pretty much what you can expect at a grammar or super selective independent.
Kids will compare results and other metrics and the higher standard will make it harder to excel compared to primary school.

I stress that I don't mind where my DC is placed in the class or the grades they get but want to see strong marks for effort.

User45632874 Thu 16-Nov-17 15:40:51

I thought I might just add that dc returned home from school a few days ago announcing that one of her teachers in one of the art type subjects gave her a target grade of 7/8. Apparently, the teacher had written 6/7 then crossed it out saying to dc that they believed dc to be more capable of a 6/7...interesting I thought since this subject definitely doesn't have any link to KS2/Sats and has made the whole thing seem even more nonsensical! DC is O.K about the target scoring now, believing it to be historically based, it is a relief that this process hasn't destroyed dc's confidence. Thanks once again for all of your replies.

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