When the DfE announced the removal of levels as a system of national assessment, they cited the issue that they were “complicated and difficult to understand, especially for parents”.
Historically, at the end of KS2 parents have received a report indicating the level at which a child is working in the core subjects. In recent years this has become slightly more complex because of the changes following the Bew Review, but by and large parents are given a collection of single-digit scores in which 4 represents the expected level: higher numbers represent higher attainment; lower number represent lower attainment.
So far so simple. A table of results might look something like this:
So in this case, the child was clearly stronger than average in Reading, Writing and Maths, weaker and the grammar aspects, and in line with expectations in Science.
But this was “difficult to understand, especially for parents” so now the DfE proposes a new system. Instead of working to attain Level 4 in all areas, students will now be expected to score 100 points on a scaled score. Or to meet a national standard. Or in Writing to achieve one of 5 benchmarks. So the new charts could become considerably more complicated. Perhaps as nonsensical as this:
How a parent is meant to make any sense of these varied systems if they were unable to comprehend the digits 3, 4 and 5 is anyone’s guess! In this case, the child’s excellence in Reading is reduced to a number with no obvious sense of scale and a simple ‘Yes’ to indicate that they have met the minimum national standard, despite clearly achieving well in excess of this on the tests. Yet the Writing, which is only described based on a performance descriptor, suggests that it is a strength, when in fact it might be nowhere near as strong as Reading.
The old levels made little attempt at nuance. The proposed system attempts to imply it and thereby destroys it!
The consultation remains open on the teacher assessment gradings, for what it’s worth.
This post was inspired by a comment made on twitter by @RevErasmus