The key stage 1-2 (KS1-2) progress measure is a value added (VA) measure, and this is nothing new. We have had VA measures for years, both at KS2 and at KS4. But previously these VA measures – which took up pages of the old RAISE reports – played second fiddle to the levels of progress measure. This was for a number of reasons:
- Levels of progress was a key measure with floor standards attached
- It was in the same language as everyday assessment
- It made target setting easy (just add 2 levels to KS1 result)
- It was simple and everyone understood it
- We do not need data in the same format at either end of the measure to calculate VA. Currently we have KS1 (sub)levels at the beginning and KS2 scaled scores at the end. These data are not in the same format. We needed compatible data for the levels of progress measure but not for VA. This misconception is a hangover from levels, and it’s something that is better understood in secondary schools where they have KS2 scores at one end and GCSE results at the other.
- We do not even need the same subjects at either end. Again, this is better understood in secondary schools, where the baseline comprises KS2 scores in reading and maths (note: no writing) and the end point is any GCSE the student sits. VA can be measured from KS2 test scores in reading and maths to GCSE result in Russian or Art, for example.
- KS1-2 VA has nothing to do with that magic expected standard score of 100. Plenty of pupils get positive progress scores at KS2 without achieving a score of 100 in KS2 tests. They just need to exceed the national average score of pupils with the same prior attainment, and scoring 92 might be enough, depending on start point. And pupils that achieved 2b at KS1 (often referred to as ‘expected’ in old money) do not have to achieve 100 to make ‘good’ progress; in 2017 they had to exceed 102!
- We have two pupils in a class that have KS1 prior attainment of 16 APS (2b in reading and writing and 2a in maths at KS1). They are placed into the same PAG as thousands of other children nationally with 16 APS at KS1. The DfE take in all the thousands of reading test scores for all the pupils in this PAG and calculate the average score, which for this PAG is 105 (note: in reality benchmarks are to 2 decimal places e.g. 104.08). 105 therefore becomes the benchmark for this group. Our two pupils scored 108 and 101 in their KS2 tests and both have met the expected standard. However, only one pupil has a positive progress score. The pupil scoring 108 has beaten the national benchmark by 3 whilst the other has fallen short by 4. These pupils’ VA scores are therefore +3 and -4 respectively.
- We have two other pupils in our class who have KS1 prior attainment of 10 APS (2c in reading and Level 1 in writing and maths). They are in the same PAG as thousands of other children nationally with 10 APS at KS1. The DfE collect the reading test scores for all pupils in the group nationally calculate the KS2 average score, which in this case is 94 (again, in reality this would be to 2 decimal places). 94 therefore becomes the benchmark for this group. Our two pupils scored 98 and 88 in their KS2 tests. Neither have met the expected standard but the first pupil has beaten the national benchmark by 3 whilst the other has fallen short by 7. These pupils’ VA scores are therefore +4 and -6 respectively.
- Writing! There is no test for writing at KS2 but there is still a progress measure. As in reading and maths, pupils are set benchmarks in writing that are fine graded to decimal points (see p17-18 here), but because pupils do not have a test score, these benchmarks are essentially unachievable. Instead, the DfE have assigned ‘nominal’ scores to teacher assessments for writing, which makes for a very clunky measure. The vast majority of pupils are assessed as either working towards the expected standard, working at the expected standard, or working at greater depth. These attract values of 91, 103, and 113 respectively. In reading, and maths pupils can achieve test scores in the range of 80-120; in writing, they get 91, 103 or 113. It doesn’t work.
- Pupils below the standard of the tests/curriculum are also assigned nominal scores, which range from 59 for the lowest p-scales, up to 79 for the highest of the pre-key stage assessments. These pupils often have SEND and tend to end up with big negative progress scores, which can have a detrimental impact on a school’s overall progress scores. The system is therefore punitive towards those schools that have large groups of pupils with SEND (or towards small schools with just one such pupil). The DfE plan to mitigate this issue by capping negative scores this year.
- It can’t be predicted. The benchmarks change every year (they are the national average scores for each PAG that year), and we don’t know what they are until after pupils have left. This is a headache for many headteachers and senior leaders.
- It relies on the accuracy of KS1 results. I’ll say no more about that.
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