The two following extracts are taken from entirely different documents. Before I start ranting, take a look at them, and try to discern which demands the greater challenge:
Now, chances are that you recognised at least one set of statements, but putting that knowledge aside, how clear is it which is the more demanding?
For example, if I were to point out that one is the expected standard for KS2 (i.e. a list of things that a child must be able to do at age 11 to reach the expected standard – for which 85% of children are meant to be aiming) and the other is the writing descriptors for a mid- to high-range GCSE grade (i.e. an outline of the expectations of a student somewhere around the expected standard at age 16), would it be clear which was which?
I’d imagine that some of the expectations give it away: its unlikely to see handwriting mentioned in the GCSE paper, and for some reason choosing appropriate content doesn’t seem to matter at age 11. But is the demand really different enough to recognise a further 5 years of education?
If a child is able to make some use of semi-colons, dashes, colons and hyphens at age 11, is it really any different to be using a range of punctuation at age 16?
Is spelling irregular words correctly any different from generally accurate spelling (bearing in mind that the list of words for KS2 includes accommodate, embarrass, mischievous and yacht)?
And how is it that accurate sentence demarcation falls in the upper range of GCSE performance, but is only “working towards the expected standard” for 11-year-olds/
Now, you might argue that the GCSE criteria are too simple. I might even agree with you. But overall – given the higher level of demand of the task and other things, it seems like it might be a reasonable aim for a majority of 16-year-olds, given that 65% are expected to meet the new Grade 4 standard initially. But is the list of expectations for 11-year-olds really realistic?
So much for 4b-equivalence
When the new National Curriculum assessments were initially explained, we were told that the expectation for 11-year-olds would rise to be in line with what had previously been a “good level 4”, or a level 4b. This list for KS2 bears no resemblance to such a list.
As we’ve changed from best-fit measure to a non-negotiable one, it strikes me that the most straightforward way of drawing a comparison would be to look at the old Level 4 writing criteria. In the past it would be enough to get ‘most’ of these elements secured to reach a level 4, so presumably to be a ‘good level 4’, you would expect to see all of them. But what sort of a list would that leave us with?
I’d suggest something like this:
And it’s notable that of those children who were securing this ‘good level’, some 72% of them were going on to get 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths. That seems like a pretty good figure to me, if the current aim is for around 65%. So why the massive ramping up of demand?
An effort to be seen to be raising the bar?
A scheme to force more primary schools to convert to academy status?
Or just sheer incompetence?
For those interested, the GCSE criteria are taken from the AQA Specimen Markscheme for its new-style GCSE, and can be found at http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/english/AQA-87001-SMS.PDF
I should thank @sputniksteve for bringing the document to my attention.