Yacapaca delivers criterion-referenced assessments. This makes it very useful for doing things like predicting exam grades, because exams are based on tightly-standardised criteria. A Grade C is the same in Barnsley as it is in Basingstoke. At the upper secondary stage (KS4 in England) we have been able to support a wide spectrum of qualifications, and given teachers a reliable tool with which to measure progression.
The English National Curriculum levels have allowed us to do the same at Key Stage 3. The levels are sufficiently well defined that we have been able to use teachers’ consensus to deliver reliable and widely trusted baselines and progress reports. Michael Gove’s sudden decision to ‘disapply’ the levels has left many teachers wondering how to now measure progression.
Here at Yacapaca, we have to follow what the majority of teachers do, so I decided to wait, and listen, before deciding anything. Finally, it is getting clear and the best strategy is becoming obvious.
Here are the possibilities I considered:
- Use GCSE grades all the way down. This has the advantage of still being criterion referenced, but it’s a bit of a non-starter. The content and processes being assessed at GCSE just aren’t relevant to teaching 11 year-olds.
- Simply mark 1-10, or as a percentage. This is fine within your class, perhaps even within your school, but it makes it impossible to make meaningful comparisons beyond that. We can easily show you percentage results from quizzes, but unless you know the difficulty level of the quiz, they tell you nothing.
- Design our own unique-to-Yacapaca system. If I ruled the world I would definitely do this, but until I do….
- Continue to use National Curriculum levels, disapplied or not. This has the great advantage of being a system that works and that everyone* understands. And history shows that simply ignoring the Education minister is a strategy that works more often than not.
So this is what we are going to do at Yacapaca. We shall continue to report NC levels, and sublevels, for any teacher who wishes to set his/her classes up to use them.
What you need to do
Nothing. If you are content to continue using National Curriculum levels, simply leave your KS3 student sets with their gradescheme set to NC Levels. When you upload new student sets, continue to use the NC Levels setting.
*except Michael Gove, clearly.