5th March 2014
Before Parents’ Evenings next week, we would like to take the opportunity to try to share with you what assessments show for individual children so that you can be better informed on how your child is doing. In our experience, there are three things all parents want to know about their child’s learning – how they are achieving, what progress they are making and how much effort they are giving. We hope this letter explains this more clearly.
All teachers are asked to make formal assessments of your child every term – six times a year. We use a computer program called Target Tracker to map these assessments so that both achievement and progress can be calculated.
There are several ways of keeping track of the achievement of children, but generally they are assessed against levels that have bands within them. There are strict criteria that a child needs to achieve in order to achieve that level, and teachers check the child’s learning against these in order to make a judgement. In schools assessment happens all the time as we try to see where each child is in their learning journey. Whilst all children learn at different rates, there is a national expectation of what pupils should be achieving for their age. This should be viewed as a range rather than a particular level. Whilst levelling will soon be phased out, currently it is what we use in schools.
Understanding National Curriculum Levels in Relation to Age-Related Expectations
‘Level’ – The term used to compare your child’s ability against local and national standards of achievement. The spread of marks required to achieve each level is wide. It takes, on average, two years to complete each level. See chart below for an explanation of expected levels. Each level is sub divided, e.g. 2A is higher than a 2B; 2B is higher than 2C. (2A can also be called 2.8, 2B is 2.5 and 2C is 2.2)
Assessments are carried out across the Foundation Stage and they too are judged according to national expectations. In Year 1, the children are tested according to their phonic knowledge. There is a national test of 40 words (and non-words).
‘SATs’ – These are ‘Standard Assessment Tests’. Statutory SATs are given at the end of Years 2 and 6 and Optional SATs are given at the end of Years 3, 4 and 5 to show progress. In Years 2 and 6 children are tested in Reading, Writing and Maths, although teacher assessments are still considered more important than a single test.
The idea of the SATs is to show what pupils have learnt and retained during the year. The tests help our teachers to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of what your child understands and also help teachers to set targets for improvement. Children do not ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ the test – the results just show what they have learned and what they can do. Other formal assessments also take place throughout the year.
In terms of levels, if a child achieves a Level 2 in Year 2, they are considered having met the expectation. If a child achieves a level 4 at the end of Year 6, they too have met an age related expectation. If they have done better than that – into level 3 at the end of Year 2 and into level 5 at the end of Year 6 – they have exceeded age related expectations. Likewise, below those levels – level 1 at the end of Year 2 and level 3 at the end of Year 6 - means that the child has not reached age related expectations.
Not making the expected levels could be for many reasons. Some children are slow developers, some have language barriers to overcome and some may have missed a lot of schooling.
At The Cathedral School, we believe that this is a far more important measure of the success of a child’s learning. Once again there are national expectations. All children are expected to make two levels of progress between Year 2 and Year 6. That means that if the child achieved a level 1 by the end of Year 2, they should progress to level 3 by the end of Year 6. If they achieved a level 3 at the end of Year 2, it is anticipated that they should be on level 5 by the end of Year 6. Many children actually make higher progress than this.
Progress has to be maintained through all year groups in order for children to make those national expectations. The school takes our termly Pupil Progress meetings very seriously and if we find a child not making expected progress, we try to identify what can be done to accelerate progress.
We are sure that this criteria is the most important to many parents as it is about attitude to learning. Even if a child has not made age related expectations or appropriate levels of progress, if they are really trying, that is so important. Likewise, if they are not giving their very best, they will not reach their potential.
These three areas will become part of the discussion at Parent’s evenings. You will be told the level that your child is working at, how much progress they have made and how much effort they are putting in. We know that many of these conversations will be very pleasing ones.
Targets will be given for your child so that you know what their next steps are in their learning journey. We want to be able to allow you to feel part of their learning and support them in it. There may be more work we have to do as a school to ensure you feel confident in this. Certainly there are already courses being run that are doing precisely that.
We hope that this helps in explaining levels of attainment and national expectations so that the conversations at Parents’ Evening can be more informed.
Please feel free to see Mrs Kennedy or Mr Cotter (or your child’s teacher) if you would like to know more about the whole assessment process and how your child is levelled.
Paul Cotter Bernie Kennedy
Executive Headteacher Head of Learning