Differences in KS2 and KS3 English Levels

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Differences in KS2 and KS3 English Levels

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    Does anyone else here feel that KS2 SATs levels that enter Y7 with are sometimes higher than what the child actually is?

    Teaching year 7, i've had a few parents ask me why their son/ daughters levels have gone down in KS3, I personally don't feel KS2 SATs were even accurate initially.

    Has anyone else experienced this and if so what do you say to the parents?

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    Certainly when I taught in Middle Schools it was noticeable that many children  seemed to 'regress' with their levels in year 7. Mind you because I had access to both sets of criteria it was noticeable that what was needed to get a level 4 in yr 6 was different to the requirements in yr 7.

    There's often a 'natural dip' in yr 7 anyway (might help placate some parents) as in yr3 too!

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    I would say there is almost always a discrepancy between what students get in KS2 and where we think they are in Y7 (eg. kids down as 4b but actually L2). We were finding this such a problem that we have introduced initial assessments which all Y7 students sit in the first 2 weeks of the year - a reading and a writing. These go onto SIMS and we use them to measure progress, even though we know that they don't match up with KS2 and probably won't match up with targets. It has helped us enormously, as we no longer feel like we are mismarking or being too harsh.

    Y6 is a cramming year, like Y11 and therefore (and this is with no judgement whatsoever), kids get pushed to the level they need to attain. In the same way as a D grade student is not a C, but gets one through intervention and careful teaching to the exam, so a L3 students can achieve L4.

    I also think that expectations of what makes a level might be different at KS2 and KS3, though this is only anecdotal. If I worked in an area where we were the only secondary school and could ask all feeders for samples of work to come up with the kids, I would totally do that, but here that is just impossible.

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    A few technical points, which may or may not help.

    If children are told they're doing "SATs", they're being misled.  There are some NCTs they may have taken but they are different altogether.  No KS2 children have ever done "sats".

    If children are told that the "sat" result IS their KS2 level, again, they're being misled.    When there were NCTs as well as Teacher Assessment, legally the two scores were weighted 50% each.  NCTs only give a notional level, anyway, and in English, the tests ignore one third of the curriculum and so one third of the end of key stage level assessment - Speaking and Listening (Attainment Target 1).  So, you might think that TA (when it was only 50%) was the more valid half.

    Children cannot lose a level they have previously gained.  If a TA is a certain level, a later TA can only be the same or higher.  If a child has given evidence of a level (in English, it would be across Speaking & Listening, Reading, and Writing) then they'll always have that level at least.  Another teacher can't say that the evidence was tainted or misread by the previous one.  Even if you have all the evidence that the previous poster might like, you won't say you're right and they're wrong, will you?

    Sub levels have no national descriptions.  They can mean pretty well whatever anyone wants them to be.  National Curriculum end of KS2 and KS3 levels have only ever been in whole numbers with no letters after them.

    NC level descriptions are only meant to be used once in a Key Stage - right at the end.  By statute, that is the only time that they have to be reported.  So, anything you say about levels in Y7 is just fancy, really, except for repeating what the Y6 teacher said.

    And there's no need to say anything, really.  If parents insist on knowing a child's levels, the answer is that they are what the Y6 teacher said.  They're not likely to be any higher for a year or two.

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    Unfortunately, it's the KS2 SATs score that counts and we've heard from Y6 teachers who admit to coaching and dubious practice with the writing paper. But we're stuck with them because progress is measured from KS2 SATs and not the teacher assessment.

    There's no way you can say to a parent that a child is going to remain at Level 4 or whatever for a year or two. Most schools have teachers reporting levels at least every term and sometimes every half term with an assumption that at least two sublevels progress will be made over the year. Our students are expected to make at least two levels progress from their KS2 SATs results to the end of year 9 (for example, from 4b to 6b). Our Y9 teacher levels this year will not include S&L because it doesn't count for GCSE and the levels have to fit the tracking data.

    Apparently, we don't have to report them at the end of Year 9 this year, but they have to be reported to parents. And yes, they were never SATs but that's what they're called by every child, parent and practising teacher in my experience.

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    Many thanks for your responses, some great food for thought.

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