Thought for the week – success

Now that Contextual Value Added (CVA) scores have been scrapped as an indicator of progress made by pupils, it has made it more difficult for schools that serve deprived communities to impress in the league tables.

The current Government insists that the best way to measure success is the number of pupils achieving 5 A*-C grades, including English and Maths. They are also using expected levels of progress. However, these levels of progress are the same for every pupil. I think it is ridiculous to  expect all pupils to make the same level of progress when so many factors can affect it (Special educational needs, supportive parents, a comfortable learning environment at home, the list goes on).

Can this one size fits all system really be a healthy way to measure success? If a pupil enters their secondary education with a very low chance of achieving 5 A*-C grades (Fischer Family Trust offer a % chance based on Year 6 SAT scores), then what message will that send to the pupil, who may well already find being in education very difficult. ‘I have 5 years of hard work ahead of me, and I’m going to end up a failure’.

The CVA system took into consideration a wide range of socio-economic factors, in addition to their previous academic performance. Lets compare two hypothetical pupils.

Pupil A is predicted straight A or A* grades and achieves some A and a majority of B grades.
Pupil B is predicted E or F grades and achieves mostly D and some (less than 5) C grades.

Which pupil has achieved the most in their 5 years of secondary education?

We had a pupil this year who was predicted (FFT) an E for Science, and he got a B. He gained more than 5 A*-C grades, but missed out on his Maths (D). Success or failure?

Sporting analogy – athletes hoping to represent GB at the Olympics.

If they don’t win a medal, they haven’t been successful. That maybe so for someone that has already won a medal in other major championships. However, if their aim was to just qualify for their first Olympics, and get through the first round perhaps, having run a personal best time, would that be a success or a failure?

Final thought
If success is relative to the progress individuals make in a context unique to them, should that be recognised and celebrated?

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