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

(25 Posts)
User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 19:11:25

Teachers Perspective Please...
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?

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DumbledoresApprentice Fri 10-Nov-17 19:16:06

Pretty much all schools have systems for giving target grades. Not all schools will use gcse style grades but they will have some system in place and students will compare grades and get an idea of where they rank. In a grammar school the students at the bottom of the class will still be bright and capable. As you say a lot can change between now and GCSE year.

User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 19:45:32

Thanks Dumbledore. 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. There is the issue of added value I believe, so 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.

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DumbledoresApprentice Fri 10-Nov-17 19:59:59

Value added is judged against their KS2 scores not the targets the school sets. Schools can’t make their progress look better by setting lower targets.
Your child’s targets aren’t low. I know it must be tough to be at the lower end in a high-achieving school but I think it’s important to remind him that his predictions are well above average and with hard work they could improve still.

Acopyofacopy Fri 10-Nov-17 20:14:51

If a child is given a 9-1 target in Y7 and they achieve a 6-7 like your dc it doesn’t mean that they are a GCSE grade 6 or 7, it means that they are on track to achieve that in Y11.

I agree with you, giving out these targets can be counter productive, but that’s how schools track progress. Some do it without disclosing them to students, though.

These targets are usually based on KS2 Sats, sometimes Cats or own assessments as well. It’s ludicrous to set a French or PE target on the basis of English and maths tests and these targets should be taken with quite a big pinch of salt.

oneplus2is3 Fri 10-Nov-17 20:20:00

The targets are set to reflect value added from KS2 to GCSE, i.e if they reach the target then positive value has been added. Our targets are all generated from the KS2 data and then inflated to ensure this. A 6/7 is an old B/A so not awful at all.

Unfortunately this is an example (albeit exaggerated) of what many able kids go through when transitioning to secondary. Your DC was probably used to being at the top of the class and now needs to deal with the fact that he is amongst a different group of peers. The only thing to do is support him and he encourage him to see the value of stretching himself. If he’s the kind of child who will respond, challenge him to prove the targets wrong.

Acopyofacopy Fri 10-Nov-17 20:22:02

Why did you post the same question twice?

User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 20:29:23

Acopy, are you a teacher? If they are on track to achieve a 6/7 in Y11 surely that is a GCSE prediction?
I am interested to know that some schools do not disclose the results and would much prefer an e-mail home rather than the teachers writing it in their books for the students to look at (and naturally, on the spot compare) and may well mention this to the school.
The school is predicting grades for history, RE and geography etc. too - how can they do this based on SATS tests? DC's Cats tests were above average and two way above average I believe. DC performed way above what was expected of her (or predicted by primary teachers) in the 11+ test and despite not having particularly high SATs scores, it has all left me feeling somewhat confused.

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User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 20:30:40

Sorry if posted question twice, I didn't mean to cause confusion. I have posted on another forum because I was unsure of traffic on this one.

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User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 20:35:35

Thank you one plus for your reassuring post. Yes, I suppose we did predict this might happen as DC's ranking was not on the high side (but neither did they get in on appeal etc, she legitimately gained her place) but has consequently been placed near the bottom of the new streaming. At primary, dc was only ever averagely placed because there was a lot of very bright children in their class, so it was never really picked up that dc had grammar school potential. They were also one of the youngest in the class (I'm not really sure this makes a huge difference because of the weighting system etc.)

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Acopyofacopy Fri 10-Nov-17 20:47:29

I am a teacher, “just” a teacher, though. I know that our school set the targets in Y7 based on a mixture of Sats and Cats and some mysterious “professional judgement”. Sometimes I wonder whether Crystal balls or booze and dice are involved, especially for the non-Sats subjects!

Our head feels very strongly about not disclosing targets and limiting children. Targets are never disclosed, but we know them and have to make sure that everybody achieves in line with predictions.

Other schools around here do communicate targets or target ranges to students routinely.

CarrieBlue Fri 10-Nov-17 20:48:33

Ofsted will expect students to know what their target is, what their current performance is and what they need to do to get their target - that’s why the students are told and have it written in their books

gandalfspants Fri 10-Nov-17 20:53:58

Most schools use KS2 scores, plus other data, including things like postcode and all sorts of random stuff, and some sort of number crunching (most state schools use Fisher Family Trust), to generate targets.

If they’re in the top 5% of schools the targets will be really aspirational, as they expect to add a lot of value. Lower achieving schools set lower targets, as they expect to add less value.

DumbledoresApprentice Fri 10-Nov-17 20:57:41

A grade 6/7 is above average. It only feels below average because they are in a school surrounded only by above average peers. I don’t think it’s unusual or bad practice for the kids to be given their targets in their books. It also usually doesn’t take kids long to work out for themselves where they rank ability-wise in their class with or without targets.

MyDcAreMarvel Fri 10-Nov-17 20:58:56

As far as I understand it they are GCSE targets. I would be surprised at a child in a grammar only having a 6/7 prediction. Are you sure he wasn't just told it was for one specific subject?

User45632874 Fri 10-Nov-17 22:41:44

MyDcAreMarvel, No it has been for 3 subjects so far, however as I said, DC legitimately attained their place at grammar. I think they was under-rated if that makes sense at their primary but really pulled the stops out for the 11+ test and a talent for the non-verbal reasoning aspects.
Acopy, your post made me smile when you mentioned about booze and dice and crystal balls being a factor. It would be disappointing if the grades were issued on judgement alone but obviously they are not; it feels as if by giving this grade, it gives a message about the belief the school has in a child and I think your school has got the right idea by keeping this low key. I am certainly going to mention this to the head when I next see them as I said, it has done nothing but demoralize my dc and now dh and I are left picking up the pieces.

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thebookeatinggirl Sat 11-Nov-17 08:26:57

My DS has predictions of 6/7, based on his SATs results. He was the last year to go through on old levels, but scored 5As in everything, so relatively high (not the magical Level 6s, but an above average child).

He knows his predictions, and is always pleased when assessments show him working above his 'pathway'. He often now gets an assessment grade of 7/8, which is great and shows he has pulled his socks up and is working hard. He likes that.

I would be pleased that your child has realistic targets, probably based on her lowerish SATs results. She now has lots of space and potential to improve, and I wouldn't be surprised if she's soon working beyond her predictions. Most schools tell children their targets. It's tough in a grammar school system if yours are lower, but it's something she'll have to get used to. It's certainly better than what happens to thousands of children a year where inflated teacher assessments at KS2 mean that all through secondary school they will have targets that are way above where they are actually working. Incentive for some, I suppose, but generally very demoralising.

noblegiraffe Sat 11-Nov-17 10:20:44

Ofsted will expect students to know what their target is

No they don't. It's a myth, says Sean Harford of Ofsted.

Catalufa Sat 11-Nov-17 10:35:55

I agree with thebookeatinggirl. You may not agree with the way the school does this, but you’re unlikely to get the school to change their whole system just for your child, so if I were you I would work with what you have. Explain to your DC that it doesn’t matter what everyone else’s targets are, that it’s natural to feel a bit jealous of someone who is very bright, but the important thing is to work hard, do their best and keep learning and improving. Use this as an opportunity to build resilience and help your DC handle this kind of situation.

I do feel sympathy with you - my DC has just moved up to year 7 in a high achieving school and it’s quite a transition. I hope your DC settles in well and finds their own path.

User45632874 Sat 11-Nov-17 17:21:27

Thanks for all of your replies. We are all feeling a bit better today and that is thanks partly to some mumsnetters putting things in perspective, so thank you. DC was never top set in anything at primary because there were a high amount of high achievers in the class - I think approximately 15 children passed for grammar in that year and we didn't realise that dc would pass (or might just scrape in) and has ended up in the better grammar which takes the higher ranking children. This means dc is located near the bottom of the pecking order but we are hoping dc will be inspired by those around them and the school has got a brilliant reputation, so glad they got in. But it naturally isn't a pleasant feeling being near the bottom of the pile. Some of the comments have been great such as think of how dc could exceed expectations and not be one of the top performers with high expectations always upon them, that has really helped.

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User45632874 Thu 16-Nov-17 15:39:10

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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CuckooCuckooClock Thu 16-Nov-17 19:12:54

Yes target setting is one of the many shit things about most schools.
As a teacher I'm fascinated to see that some schools don't communicate targets to the students. I'd be in a lot of trouble if the kids in my classes didn't know their target grades. I find it heart breaking to see how demoralising it can be and I have brought this up at meetings and been ignored.

CuckooCuckooClock Thu 16-Nov-17 19:15:21

I meant to add on the flip side some kids targets are too high, leaving them with a huge sense of failure because they 'only' got a 7 when their target was an 8. Truely crap.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 16-Nov-17 19:43:20

What were her SATs scores?

At this point, because of the added value (Progress8) calculation, your child's targets are most likely be based on what the school 'needs' them to get from their SATs starting point.

As they go through the school, this is likely to be 'finessed', based on actual knowledge. If your child is capable of more, the school will, IME, move the targets up. IME they never move them down....

User45632874 Fri 17-Nov-17 13:35:35

Yes, Cuckoo, I was extremely worried about dc being completely demoralized (dc attends a good grammar school so a lot of the target scores were high) and dc did show signs of distress. DH and I were left to pick up the pieces and I think we have sorted it now. I've got a feeling the scores were based on a few things but dc can cope with the fact that they were historically based i.e on previous SAT's scores and is therefore writing it off as history and that secondary school is a new start so to speak and not what they think of them now and that's how I'm leaving it with dc. One of the arts teachers giving dc a higher score - and thereby communicating belief in DC really helped too and I could then say hey, this new score is not based on your SAT's but it has been rubbish for dc being at the bottom of the pile so to speak and thereby comparing themselves to others.
I have decided to communicate the effect on dc with announcing the scores fairly publicly - an e-mail home would have been much better and I will be mentioning this at the next parents evening rather than kicking up a massive fuss now. This process has not been conducive to confidence building which I have always maintained is important. Interesting about grades being set too high, feel sorry for these children too, feeling as if they have failed. In retrospect, it is a better policy for dc's grades to be set slightly lower in the long term, more potential to bust those targets and I expect dc will in a few subjects! It must be difficult for teachers too - parents querying why their child hasn't met targets etc.

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