The art of simplification

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


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5 thoughts on “The art of simplification

  1. cazzypot2013 25 October 2014 at 12:41 am Reply

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. northnibleyhead 25 October 2014 at 8:01 am Reply

    Hope someone with considerable influence reads this. My staff could not believe the implications of the consolation document! And what about reporting on progress? How does one explain transition from 4 possible outcomes at ks1 maths, to 2 outcomes at ks2 ( meets or does not meet). Was there an expert panel this time?

    So glad my staff are pioneering a way forward with ideas that make sense!

  3. Village Headteacher 26 October 2014 at 10:51 am Reply

    I am also surprised that there are no end of year objectives, so parents /colleagues in Years 3-5 are left to wonder where there children are.
    This is a shambles and will create more work for staff. If Nick Clegg really wants to support teachers, scrap this madness.

  4. […] Click here to view original post – By @michaelt1979 […]

  5. Tim Taylor 10 November 2014 at 12:38 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Primary Blogging.

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