PiXL have been promoting an alternative to National Curriculum levels for while, and their ideas have been gaining some traction. We have an ongoing survey (do add your voice!) of our members’ intentions for KS3 reporting, and as you can see it’s neck and neck between continuing with NC Levels and switching to PiXL.
So what are PiXL bands? Very simply, they are predictions for GCSE success, based on the forthcoming 1-9 grade scheme for GCSE rather than the old G-A* gradings. The key phrase that converts a prediction to a band is “If continued through, the student may be predicted to achieve this grade at GCSE.”
This sounds straightforward enough – we’re used to reporting KS4 results as predicted GCSE grades, so why not extend that down to age 11? Only when you start to consider the differences in pedagogical philosophy between KS3 and KS4 do you start to see the gaps. If you look at the NC level descriptors, they are fundamentally based around Bloom’s Taxonomy. We are trying to move students up the levels of abstraction towards an ability to evaluate. In other words, underpinning KS3 is the concept of developing the mind. GCSEs vary by subject, but are generally far more knowledge-based.
PiXL try to get around this with huge spreadsheets full of “I can…” statements, that are then linked to the various bands. I can’t say I like this cumbersome approach, and it’s interesting to see that of those who intend to use PiXL Bands, only a subset report that they plan to use PiXL’s spreadsheets. Just to be clear, the “I can…” statements are to be checked off by the teacher, not the student, so don’t imagine there is any kind of empowerment going on here.
How Yacapaca is responding
We have implemented the new GCSE grades as a gradescheme that you can choose for any student set. Currently we label this as “PiXL Bands”, though I wonder if it would be clearer and more honest to use the label “Predicted GCSE Grade”. As the 1-9 grades come into common currency, we will probably change the label.
We shall not try to implement the PiXL checkbox spreadsheets. My personal view is that Yacapaca’s existing reportage is already far more thorough and it doesn’t distract you from your actual job, which is teaching, remember?
Here are the steps to converting a Yacapaca student set to PiXL Bands reporting
- Students tab->Student sets->Actions->Edit student set. This opens a popup.
- Select PiXL Bands from the Grade Scheme dropdown. It is safe to leave “average grade” as “I don’t know”, but do check that the other criteria are set before saving – especially the year.
- More tab -> Add an Offline Assignment. Enter the grades from at least one external assignment that has been graded in PiXL bands/GCSE predictions. This is essential if you want Yacapaca to accurately convert quiz percentages to PiXL Bands.