The DfE consultation on statutory assessment performance descriptors became available in November 2014. Click here for some "Model responses".
If you do nothing else, click the link above and complete the DfE consultation form, it only takes five minutes. If you trust the professionals contributing to this site refer the DfE here with the URL and reply no to their consultation questions. Our main aim is to reduce unnecessary complexity that will
divert teachers into bureaucracy rather than teaching,
ensure parents do not get clear and concise information about the progress and attainment of their children.
We need as many teachers as possible to fill in the consultation with "not fit for purpose", "will unnecessarily increase teacher workloads", "will be impenetrable to parents", "without significant editing, makes it look like educators are ill-educated" or similar. We need parents to back teachers in asking for simpler and more concise criteria against which their childrens' performance will be judged. If colleagues can get parents to compare the rationalisation here with the 40+ page consultation document I'm sure they will want some changes too. There is no reason why parents should not respond to the consultation. I have to stress that this is not about the fundamental content even though there might be arguments about that, it's about micro-management of a professional implementation of policy that is likely to do the opposite of what the Minister said was intended with respect to teacher workloads and transparency to parents.
The DfE consultation document introduces levels that are not levels and more of them, criteria that are not really criteria and are massively inconsistent, over wordy and repetitious. The labels are misleading in the meaning that they are conveying. Any professional developing regulated qualifications will be appalled at the amateurish and rushed nature of this document. Our children deserve better.
The object here is not to go over and over the failings, but to come up with a better solution that is founded in the grass roots of professional teaching. We want to enable teachers to spend more time teaching and less on bureaucratic systems. With this in mind we present a re-write to demonstrate how we can immediately reduce the number of criteria statements by about 70%, making the specification clearer to teachers and focussing on the desired outputs. We can link a reduced number of statements to supporting descriptors and other resources without obscuring the desired outcomes with a lot of inconsistently presented range statements aggregated into the performance descriptions. As the document stands it is an example of "bad practise". Here, rigour means less not more. We can separate out the indicators of performance from the context and process and significantly reduce teacher workloads by linking this to free cloud based technologies for managing the process. Anyone that wants to help can drop me an e-mail and I will give them an account with the permissions to contribute.
Let's stop this regression back to levels now. Stop it!
The support is focused on the criteria defining the National Standard. For the time being we have dispensed with "Below the national standard", "working towards the national standard" and "mastery level" because none of this regression back to levels is needed.
In the old national curriculum there were about 5 levels relevant to KS1 and KS2. We are in danger here of replacing them with 9! And that is after being told levels are a problem for parents so they need to go. Not only do we have more levels but the labels are misleading. Working towards the national standard is below the national standard so there really is no need for two "levels" here. Working towards is a continuum from no evidence at the outset to reaching the standard at the conclusion. There is no specific level to be defined.
Reporting progress to parents so they understand.
In order to report progress to parents, the teacher can provide an estimate of the percentage of the way the pupil has travelled in order to get to the defined national standard. We expect the great majority to achieve the national standard by the end of the Key Stage, (let's not at this point get diverted in arguments as to whether this is realistic or not, let's just accept it as the intention) some will go beyond it and some will not reach it at that time. Let's get focus on what the target is and not get side-tracked in complex obfuscation. What we need to do now is to take the the assessment criteria for the national standard. (performance descriptors are assessment criteria, there is no functional difference so let's get rid of the weasel words) and make them simple to understand and explicit, removing any contextual descriptions. Guidance on interpreting the criteria can and should be a separate set of information so we are going to build that in a separate page but with links from the criteria. This means we can define the criteria simply and succinctly and support them with an increasingly rich range of materials over time.
The revised presentation of the standards
Please go to the main menu standards link to read the revised criteria. To start with we have preserved the content so there should be no arguments about this or its relation to the programmes of study. With further work and as teachers become more familiar with using the criteria they can be reduced further. If we have more time the specification will become shorter, more focused and more efficient. Let's establish the principle of progressively reducing bureaucratic procedures and replacing them with professional autonomy developed in the confidence of increasing competence.
DfE Consultation questions
1. Do the names of the draft performance descriptors allow teachers and parents to understand the meaning of, and differentiate between, each performance descriptor?
If no, please provide details. NO
Names don't make sense. Working below and towards are both below and towards is a continuum so it can't be defined by "level statements". Mastery is ill-defined and misleading. Mastery of the standard is what the National Standard is. Mastery of the subject is impossible at that age so it is meaningless and will be to teachers and parents.
2. Are the performance descriptors spaced effectively across the range of pupils’ performance to support accurate and consistent judgements? NO
If no, please provide details.
Why are we reverting to levels that are not levels when all that is needed is to define the required end point? Getting there is a continuum so it is not necessary to define sub levels, especially not ones that are then fixed. Teachers are quite capable of estimating the percentage progress towards the end point without writing more and arbitrarily positioned sub-level statements.
3. In your opinion, are the performance descriptors clear and easy to understand? NO
If no, which bullets lack sufficient clarity to allow for effective teacher assessment?
It is not a matter of cherry picking a few worst offenders. The whole thing needs time spent on it to do the job properly and professionally. A few are just plain wrong. Most are over-verbose, some are dependent on others and therefore redundant and there are far too many of them. There is a need to separate statements of outcome from the process and range to improve provision. This is pretty well universally accepted good practise in writing learning outcomes and assessment criteria.
4. In your opinion, does the content of the performance descriptors adequately reflect the national curriculum programmes of study?
If no, please state what amendments are required.
Yes but in far too prescriptive and detailed way to allow teachers professional autonomy in executing the policy. It is back to the worst aspects of micro management from the top.
5. Should any element of the performance descriptors be weighted (i.e. should any element be considered more important or less important than others?).
If yes, please detail which performance descriptor(s), which element(s) and why.
No, No, No Stop micro managing, just stop it!
6. If you have any further comments regarding the performance descriptors, please provide details. For example, is there further supporting information that would be helpful in understanding and using the performance descriptors?
See the community web site at www.ks1ks2assess.org.uk. This provides a rationalised re-write based on the same content but making it practically manageable in schools with free supporting cloud based technologies.