The following statements all came from the 2015 report from the Commission on Assessment without Levels. They all appeared under the heading “The problems with levels”. Are there any of these issues that don’t also apply in exactly the same way to the new interim teacher assessment frameworks?
- [They] required aggregating a wide variety of data into a single number
- Too often levels became viewed as thresholds
- Teaching became focused on getting pupils across the next threshold instead of ensuring they were secure in the knowledge and understanding
- In reality, the difference between pupils on either side of a boundary might have been very slight, while the difference between pupils within the same level might have been very different
- Although levels were intended to define common standards of attainment, the level descriptors were open to interpretation
- Different teachers could make different judgements
- The information secondary schools received from primary schools was sometimes felt to be unreliable or unhelpful.
- Teachers planned lessons which would allow pupils to learn or demonstrate the requirements for specific levels
- The drive for progress across levels also led teachers to focus their attention disproportionately on pupils just below level boundaries
- Pupils compared themselves to others and often labelled themselves according to the level they were at
- The disconnect between levels and the content of the national curriculum also meant that telling a parent his or her child was level 4b, did not provide meaningful information about what that child knew and understood or needed to know to progress.
- The expectation to collect data in efforts to track pupils’ progress towards target levels considerably increased teachers’ workload.
It’s also worth noting that when Mr Gove first made the announcement, the webpage that explained it said:
- We believe this system is complicated and difficult to understand, especially for parents.