Posted by: mrlock | September 21, 2014

Progress 8 – being held to account for every grade, in every subject

Introduction and a note on 2015:

From 2016, secondary schools will be held to account using four accountability measures: Attainment 8, Progress 8, the percentage of students who achieve the English Baccalaureate and the percentage of pupils who achieve a grade C in both English and mathematics GCSE.

On this final measure, rumour has it that before he left office Michael Gove had the intention to impose a 50% floor on schools. So having fewer than 50% of pupils achieve both maths and English at grade C will cause a school to be below the floor. This was not going to be announced in advance, so could easily still be the intention. Update: Tim Leunig has clarified below in the comments that this is not the case.

Of these four accountability measures, Progress 8 is going to be by far the most important. Everything I have heard suggests that it will dictate whether a school is subject to an Ofsted inspection (or not), and is likely to dictate the outcome of the achievement grade during an inspection.

Progress 8 has been developed largely by Tim Leunig of the LSE seconded to the DFE, who I’d like to commend on answering questions via twitter (@timleunig) in order to assist schools with understanding Progress 8.

2015:

Before I write about Progress 8, a word on 2015. Unless schools have opted in to Progress 8 (and I can see little benefit to a state school in doing so at this stage) the published accountability measures will be  the same as 2014. So we will be judged on the percentage of pupils who get 5 GCSEs including maths and English, the percentage of pupils who make expected and above expected progress in maths and English, the percentage of pupils who receive the English Baccalaureate, and the Best 8 value added measure. Nothing has changed for current Year 11.

2016:

Progress 8 comes in for all schools. We will have received an indicative Progress 8 score for 2015 via RAISE (I believe). Progress 8 comes from Attainment 8, so we should understand how to calculate that first. Before we do that, we need to understand the scoring system.

GCSE scores:

At the moment, a G grade is worth 16, an F is worth 22 and so on. I’m not quite clear on the reason for these numbers, which go up in 6s.

From 2016, the scores will be 1 for a G, 2 for an F, 3 for an E and so on right up to 8 for an A*.

This seems to make more sense to me. So in calculating Attainment 8, we must have in mind these scores.

I presume this will mean that the numbering systems for the new GCSEs in English and maths in 2017, and then the rest of the EBACC subjects a year later, can just fit in with the scores above.

For guidance on what non-GCSEs are worth, please see the technical guide.

Attainment 8:

Baskets: Baskets or buckets or whatever they’re called, I know people working in schools are sick of hearing about them. I think they’re the easiest way to understand this measure though.

Qualifications are in three baskets as follows.

Basket One: Two qualifications – Mathematics and English OR English Literature. These qualifications count double as long as pupils have sat both English and English Literature. Assuming the student has sat both qualifications, the stronger of the English/ English Literature subjects goes in this basket. The other one can go in basket three.

NB: Update October 2014 from ASCL briefing – hat-tip Amanda (@MakeMathsmatter): It is reported that some maths linked subjects will both count in basket one rather than maths counting double (eg ‘applications of maths’ and ‘methods in maths’)
Free standing maths, pure maths and statistics will not count in basket three if the student has maths in basket one. I will update this blog when this is confirmed for sure. UPDATE: This decision has now been reversed.

Basket Two: Three qualifications – English Baccalaureate. In this basket goes three of the other English Baccalaureate qualifications. These include History, Geography, Sciences, Computer Science and a very large selection of Modern Foreign Language qualifications.

If pupils are doing Biology, Chemistry and Physics, all three of these can go in here. There is one exception. If students are doing Core Science and Additional Science, both of these qualifications can count in this basket. However, if they are doing Further Additional Science, this does not count in this basket.

Each qualification in this basket counts single.

Basket Three: Three qualifications – Other ‘High Value’ qualifications.

Pretty much every qualification that isn’t Mickey Mouse (and some which are) counts in this basket. These can be three vocational qualifications, and can also include any qualifications that don’t fit into Basket One or Two because they’re full.

These count single.

Taking Baskets One, Two and Three together makes 8 subjects. Basket One counts double (English or English Literature as long as both have been taken). These are added together to obtain an Attainment 8 score for the student.

Examples: This is perhaps better shown by examples, so here are some.

These are the results attained by an actual student from my current school last year (2014) H.

Please ignore the curriculum. I’ve restructured that so no child follows a curriculum like this any more but that only kicked in with our new Year 11s as we did it two years ago. Anyway, H’s scores in 2013:

English D, English Lit C, Maths C, Psychology C, Art and Design D, History E, Science D, RS Short Course C, Citizenship Short Course D

Sticking these into the structure I’ve described and multiplying by the weighting:

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 09.14.27

So H would have achieved an Attainment 8 score of 4.0 – or 40 if you prefer not to use the decimal point version of the weighting.

So what about fictional student Angela, who achieved these results: Art – B ,Maths – C ,English – B, Physics – B, Chemistry – D, Biology – B, Spanish – A, Music – C, Psychology – C:

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 09.16.27

Angela’s Attainment 8 score is 5.1 (or 51), significantly affected by not doing English Literature (hence English only counts single).

School attainment 8 score:

To work out a school’s Attainment 8 score, add up the total for all students and divide by the number of students. This is what will be published.

Progress 8:

To work out a pupil’s Progress 8 score, we take their Attainment 8 score and subtract the expected Attainment 8 score based on KS2 fine levelled scores in English and mathematics.

The fine levels (4.1, 4.2, etc) are available online from Fischer Family Trust.

A model of the expected scores is available for 2013 from the technical guidance issued by the DFE. See page 17 but I’ve published it here:

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 08.53.42

We should note that we will not know the expected attainment 8 scores for 2016 until 2016 results are out. They will not be the same as in 2013, because pupils have not followed a curriculum driven by this accountability measure.

So if Angela had an expected Attainment 8 score of 5.4, her Progress 8 score would be 5.1 -5.4 = -0.3

More examples: Let’s use another example. Fictional pupil Charlie achieved KS4 Level 4.0 average in English and maths. He is expected to achieve 34 Attainment 8 points. Here is his results set out in a different style table:

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 09.17.45

Charlie’s progress 8 score is therefore 4.7 – 3.4 = +1.3. A real positive for the school.

At this stage, I have to anticipate a form of gaming I believe may become commonplace. If there is a school in difficult circumstances, and Charlie is in Year 11 with this curriculum, come March or April, what is to stop the school deciding to force Charlie to take an English Baccalaureate subject via cramming so that he can at least achieve an F, or an E, or even a D with a headwind?

It’s not in Charlie’s interests, I’d suggest. It is in the schools. If the school does this and he achieves a D, his profile looks like this suddenly:

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 09.19.08

So now Charlie’s score is 5.1-3.4 = +1.7. I’m minded of Daisy Christodoulou’s talk at ResearchEd where she pointed out that when a measure becomes high stakes it ceases to be a measure that has as much validity and reliability, and I wonder if this is something that has been considered – the careful manipulation of the curriculum.

My final example is fictional student Barbara, who I designed to ensure that we learn the lessons of having an academic curriculum. Barbara got great KS2 results at average 5.5. Her expected attainment 8 score is hence 69 or 6.9.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 09.21.35

Despite achieving an A* in everything, Barbara’s Progress 8 score is 5.6-6.9 = -1.3.

Progress 8:Add up all the scores from the pupils and divide by the number of pupils. Here is a table that might help understand that:

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 09.22.54

This school therefore has a progress 8 score of 36.5/142. This will be rounded to two decimal places and the published progress 8 score will be + 0.26 I believe this will be displayed publicly like this slide here so that parents, governors and the community can understand:

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 08.49.08

Progress 8 in future years: The model is likely to become ex ante. This means that while the expected attainment 8 scores for 2016 will be based on 2016 results, beyond that the expected attainment 8 scores for each level will be based on prior year’s attainment.

So the targets for 2018 will be set in 2016, 2019 set in 2017 and so on.

My understanding is that this is partly to allow for a self-improving school systems model.

Consequences: I can’t remember where I heard this, so it may be out of date or nonsense. Having said that, it makes sense to be something like this: A Progress 8 score of -0.5 or worse for a school will mean they are inspected that year. A Progress 8 score of 1.0 or higher means they won’t be.

This narrative doesn’t fit in with what Ofsted are saying, but I would hazard a guess that something like that will happen.

Implications:

All subjects count: We are moving on from the era of English and mathematics being everything. Nonetheless, not all subjects are equal. In my school, I’ve said that Subject Leaders will want to be on top of the predictions for every student at every grade boundary

All grades count: This is not about C grades. An improvement from A to A* or from U to G will count the same as an improvement from D to C.

Curriculum matters most: Schools with a ‘dumbed down’ or non-academic curriculum will really suffer from this measure. In my school I’ve said that 95% of students should study 8 qualifying subjects. Ideally I think it should be 100%. I think all pupils are entitled to an academic curriculum.

A part of this is that Progress 8 is the kind of accountability measure I would have designed myself if I wanted something to measure the curriculum I promote with our pupils.

Schools will need to decide how to track and ‘intervene’ without traditional ‘interventions’: So getting kids in to cram on Saturdays or after school like many schools do for maths and English now will have an effect, but nothing like the effect it’s had up until now. While 5A*-C including maths and English has been the benchmark measure, some schools have put incredible efforts into maths and English and assumed (usually correctly) that those students will achieve 3 other grade Cs. In addition, since progress in maths and English have been two of the other accountability measures, this has meant incredible focus on these two subjects. Should schools do this now, I’d imagine they’d suffer as all subjects and all grade boundaries are going to matter.

Our reaction has been to expand our Pupil Progress meetings, where Pupil Progress Leaders (Heads of Year) in Years 9,10 and 11 meet with representatives from faculties (in Year 11 these are usually Heads of Faculties) to talk about 6 pupils.

These meetings are twice per half term, in directed time, and the meetings are empowered to make decisions. Hence the colleagues in them have to have liaised with teachers and faculties about those 6 pupils.

This can drive ‘interventions’, but actually it’s resulted in problem solving or even problem anticipating and is starting to have effect beyond the 6 pupils identified. The agenda for this meeting is sent out at least a week in advance, and preferably two weeks, and is data driven.

There are no excuses tolerated, no blame attached, just solution focussed. Hence you have NQTs being a part of making decisions that impact on the Head of Faculty, and you have time, included in the time budget, for colleagues to actually liaise, chaired by the Pupil Progress Leaders.

I may write more about these in the future. We’ve done this for a year, but Progress 8 makes it even more important.

I’d really like to hear how other schools are reacting.

There is one note of caution (as well as the possible gaming I mention above). This measure seems right and fairly egalitarian to me. However, Headteacher Liam Collins (@kalinsky1970) reported that Suffolk LA had reported that in 2013, nationally only ONE grammar school would have had a negative Progress 8 score.

I hope that this will change as schools that are not grammar schools adapt their curriculum to Progress 8.

Please see the updated guidance here.

NB: See I highly recommend Tim Leunig’s comments below in order to assist with understanding, and for some clarification and corrections.

Disclaimer: I don’t think my blogpost is any easier to understand than just reading the DFE guidance below, but I have written it as several colleagues requested it. The documentation is below.

Links: Progress 8 school performance measure: information for school leaders

Progress 8 technical measure: a guide

Progress 8 early opt-in

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Responses

  1. Very well explained. Thanks for this. I might have to read a few times before it goes in. My next quandary is to work out how it impacts on FE.
    Just as a side issue, I found it hard to read the case study examples of Charlie and Angela etc. The formatting went adrift in my WordPress reader on my iPhone. I wonder if you might consider screen shotting them instead and inserting as an image? I’d be eternally grateful 🙂 thx, Carol

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    • I’m in the process of doing that.

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      • Great! Thx

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      • How does it look now?

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      • Brill! That works

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  2. Thank you for this, very useful. I am a little confused on one aspect. It was my understanding that KS2 levels were to be scrapped within the next couple of years. Is this still the case and if it is do we know how expected attainment will be calculated without levels?

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    • That is the case. They will be replaced by tests that have a similar expected attainment based on the average for the cohort (or more probably, as my post suggests, the cohort two years before that). Of course, current Year 10,9,8 and 7 all have KS2 levels that will be used so that is some way off.

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      • Hi, thanks for this post – very useful.

        Could you please expand a little further on this point? Correct me if I’m wrong: in the years to come KS2 levels will be scrapped and students will be considered ‘secondary ready’ and be placed into 10% brackets based on their performance around the nominal (is it nominal?) 100 point scale in their maths and reading assessments.

        How then will secondary schools (or the government) be given a value on which to set the expected grades at the end of KS4 which will be essential for the progress 8 calculations to be made? Having read through the March 2015 DfE document (referred to in your blog) I can’t find any reference to this 100 point scale but have found the example of how the fine point score would be calculated. In this example it uses test marks of 74 and 77. I am reading these as raw scores from the tests rather than scaled scores however.

        Any clarification would be much appreciated.
        Tim

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      • I think the scores are converted, as now, to a fine level, eg 3.8, 3.9 etc. I don’t know what these will be in years to come but I see no reason why the effect of whatever the number is won’t be the same.

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  3. This is a very useful practical guide to the issues secondaries are going to face with the Progress 8 measures. I do worry, however, about the underlying assumptions which on which these measures of ‘progress’ are based. So whilst we’re going to have to calculate progress 8 ‘scores’ because that’s what has been demanded, it’s worth remembering that they are built on the shakiest of foundations…

    It’s well understood that examinations only measure what they measure, and they are an imperfect measurement at the best of times. This is particularly so in the humanities, but it affects the sciences too. The long and the short of this is that, unless you are at the extremes of any graded system, your grades are pretty much as likely to be ‘wrong’ as they are to be ‘right’. So a C grade could have been graded a B or D, and a D could be graded C or D depending on the paper, cohort, day, time, weather or any number of other factors. In many cases, grades could have been even more ‘wrong’, too.

    This being the case, the numbers become meaningless. So in Angela’s case above, she will be given the score of 1.3. The sheer amount of error in this – very specific – number is breathtaking. The KS2 score will have been plucked from a range of possible scores. The Progress 8 score is the same. Both are averages of very different raw scores, which may or may not be of equal weighting but are treated as such. English Language and Maths are counted twice in progress 8 for no logical reason. The ‘scores’ should have margins of measurement error attached, but they don’t, because they are used to judge schools in an entirely unjustified manner.

    In the examples you’ve used, had Angela’s Cs and Bs been graded as Bs and As, she would have 0.9 points more. If they had been graded Ds and Cs instead, she would have a score 0.9 lower. Whilst this is unlikely to be the case, it shows that the score she was allocated – 1.3 – could be any one of a large range of scores from, say, 0.4 to 2.2.

    This doesn’t mean that what you have produced isn’t useful. Schools have to understand the measures used to judge them. But they should understand that these measures have foundations of sand. I look forward to a time when we look back in anger at the simple-minded idiocy of Not Even Wrong numerical judgement of children, teachers and schools. It can’t come soon enough.

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  4. Great post.

    One point worth mentioning is that, I believe, the first few years of Prog8 will be calculated ex-ante but once things settle down they intend to set the benchmarks for Angela, Charlie etc. using historical data.

    This will allow the data to be published by schools etc. on results day – which is the key to replacing 5a*~c inc EM in the press/public perception.

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    • I think that’s what I said – except ex ante means the latter (i.e. calculated from historical scores). Tim Leunig confirmed this is the intention on twitter the other day, but said they didn’t want huge fluctuations in targets, so we’d see.

      For 2014 and 2015 we will have published the expected attainment as a guide to what to expect for 2016.

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      • Sorry!

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  5. Nice explanation. I knew there had/were to be changes, but hadn’t really engaged with them yet. I think it is good news that more subjects are taken into account. However, there are problems with making comparisons between cohorts and between schools (reliability of the data being one, and meaningfulness of the data being another). I agree that it is important to understand the unintended negative consequences…and that high stakes accountability will push the system into these adverse consequences (for the students, chiefly).

    The progress added issue is really problematic. Your example of the high achiever at KS2 and GCSE leading to a negative overall score is an example of a bonkers outcome. This alone indicates that the system is not fit for purpose…unless the purpose is redefined and refocused in some way.

    I don’t think this is over yet.

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    • I don’t agree. In the case of Barbara, I think that’s a spot on outcome. She has been failed by her school. Had she taken the academic qualifications that others take and are entitled to, she would be a positive – and the point is that all pupils can count as positive and negative depending on their curriculum and results.

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      • The problem with a set of measures that effectively forces schools to offer only academic subjects to all students is that middle class children consistently out perform poor ones academically.

        This is not because poor children go to bad schools. Even in high performing schools rich children do better than poor ones. http://blogs.ft.com/ftdata/2012/02/22/social-mobility-and-schools/

        This is not to say poor children are incapable of academic achievement; the past 15 years have seen dramatically raised standards. But however much they do, the rich will make sure their children do more to retain their competitive advantage.

        Only a curriculum for equality can deliver social justice and that involves a broadening not a narrowing of the definition of success.

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      • Hold on – if you’re saying that poor pupils go to poor schools then this measure will accurately describe those schools as poor.

        By ‘broadening the definition of success’ you seem to be arguing for pretending that things that are easy are actually hard. I can’t agree with you at all.

        I know that rich pupils do better than poor pupils. I think that’s wrong. That’s why my posts on being a head teacher are focussed on that achievement gap. The solution is to close the gap, not to pretend it’s closing by pretending pupils who aren’t successful, are.

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      • In the case of ‘Barbara’, are you saying that for the sake of their own points score, schools will need to push pupils into doing academic subjects for their options, rather than subjects in which students may be more interested? Where is the balanced curriculum? ‘Barbara’ is clearly an intelligent person who knows her own mind, and so it is not her who has been failed by her school, but rather a system that has failed her. In the drive towards the World of Academia, I am anxious that the diversity of skills and talents is being severely compromised.

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      • Barbara’s curriculum has clearly been dumbed down at age 13 or 14, meaning she will be unable to access several academic A-levels.

        At the moment, not doing a language at GCSE precludes you from any university course at UCL, for example (and other unis are following suit). You can currently catch this up in a summer course, but it shows the relevance.

        Pupils know some things at 14. They don’t know the value of a curriculum they haven’t yet studied, because they’re novices. Especially when they’re studying a plethora of subjects that are distinctly not academic. I do not believe that all subjects are equal, and believe that all children are entitled to a broad academic base that includes history, languages, english literature, mathematics and so on.

        Dance may have value, but not at the expense of the best that has been though and said, not just for Barbara, but actually for all students.

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  6. Oh, OK. Being unfamiliar with the area means I missed this point on the subject choices. I can see how the system will push schools and students down the academic qualifications path.

    The overall issue about ensuring schools are actioning high expectations, and the apparent need to measure this by reducing the educational process to a single number, is not solved though, imo.

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  7. I hope this isn’t really ignorant but are you saying that when grades are replaced by numbers a 9 will be worth 8 points? Isn’t that mad?
    Apologies if missed something (please delete this if so!)

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    • No, I have no idea what’s going to happen in 2017 when English and maths are replaced by numbers, and 2018 when all Ebacc subjects are.

      What I suspect is that numbering them differently will allow the new qualifications to sit alongside the A*-G ones in some way. Presumably a 9 will be worth 9. But all that is to be decided later.

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  8. Some corrections, as requested:

    1 “On this final measure, rumour has it that before he left office Michael Gove had the intention to impose a 50% floor on schools. So having fewer than 50% of pupils achieve both maths and English at grade C will cause a school to be below the floor. This was not going to be announced in advance, so could easily still be the intention.”
    This is not correct. The C in EM was in the consultation document, but the responses to the consultation persuaded the government that this was not helpful, and therefore this was dropped. There is no such intention.

    2 There is a clear benefit to opting in if you think that:
    a) the new system is better and you would rather be judged by a fairer system
    b) you think you would do better with the new system than the old.
    I am particularly impressed by schools for whom (b) is not true, but, given (a) opt in anyway.

    3) At present G=16, and then +6 for each grade (so C=40)

    4) The numbering system for new GCSE grading is tba, but we will fit them in in the way that seems fairest.

    5) I think Latin also counts in the Ebacc group – but do check.

    6) “At this stage, I have to anticipate a form of gaming I believe may become commonplace. If you are a school in difficult circumstances, and Charlie is in Year 11 with this curriculum, come March or April… what is to stop you deciding to force Charlie to take an English Baccalaureate subject crammed so that he can at least achieve an F, or an E, or even a D with a headwind? It’s not in Charlie’s interests, I’d suggest. It is in the schools. If the school does this and he achieves a D, his profile looks like this suddenly:”

    This is why we have no introduced it for current Yrs 10 and 11. Schools have time to adjust their curriculum to meet the new accountability system while teaching children properly.

    7) “A Progress 8 score of -0.5 or worse for a school will mean they are inspected that year.” It is for Ofsted to decide who to inspect, but being -0.5 does mean you are below the floor, and can expect to be inspected.

    8) “Ideally I think it should be 100%.” Maybe, but this will depend on your student mix. It is likely that there will be some level 3 at entry students for whom this is not the right approach. Getting a level 3 kid Cs in E & M, a D in one academic subject that they are interested in, and a Distinction, a merit and a pass in three vocational subjects (preferably related) would put them in a good place to enter college and build a career. I think you would have a pretty good VA with an outcome like that, even with 2 blanks.

    9) I would hope your progress meetings cover all years, not just 9-11!

    10) “However, Headteacher Liam Collins (@kalinsky1970) reported that Suffolk LA had reported that in 2013, nationally only ONE grammar school would have had a negative Progress 8 score. I hope that this will change as schools that are not grammar schools adapt their curriculum to Progress 8.” It is true that grammar schools almost always have a suitable curriculum. But equally this means that they will be “caught up” as others change their curriculum to one more suited to the new measure. So past performance is really unlikely to be a guide to the future. Furthermore, the old way of calculating VA had a small bias that slightly inflated schools with consistently high prior entry grades. The new VA method (produced by Prof Simon Burgess at Bristol) has no such bias.

    Best wishes to you and to your readers

    Tim Leunig

    Chief Analyst & Senior Ministerial Policy Adviser, DfE

    (nb if there is a difference of emphasis between anything I say, and the official documentation, obviously the latter is definitive!)

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    • Tim, this is really helpful, thank you. I thought I’d corrected the G grades and so on.

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  9. Great comment from Tim.

    Re point 7 there was a definitive proposal in one of the drafts that a prog8 score above a certain level would exempt a school from inspection. That seems not to have made it into the final plan – perhaps because it is something OFSTED should decide?

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  10. […] https://mrlock.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/progress-8-being-held-to-account-for-every-grade-in-every-sub… […]

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  11. […] a great piece on Mr Lock’s blog about Progress 8 and how to go about calculating it. Really useful for data managers, and a good […]

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  12. Please could you tell me where Art and Design and Music come in your hierarchy of subjects? Do you consider them to be academic or vocational, or both? Would you consider leaving them out of a curriculum for any reason?

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    • They both count in Progress 8, so I’m not sure why they’re relevant. I have been persuaded by my friend Tim Worrall that music is an academic subject and I think all pupils should have access to music. Similarly I value art very highly. Neither are of the same order as the terrible dumbed down qualifications and the horrific curriculum diet fictional Barbara has been fed.

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  13. I was initially concerned that they seemed insufficiently significant to be mentioned by name in Bucket List 3. Of course, Art and Music are academic. They require growing appreciation of theory and of a variety of meanings across time and place. Idea and expression linked through skilful manipulation into meaningful form. As a Head of Expressive Arts and an Enemy of Promise, I am naturally suspicious of subject hierarchies, new curriculum arrangements and resulting attitudes. I also believe that whilst all children may be entitled to an academic curriculum, not all are entirely suited for one, and it is important that we have some sort of decent vocational provision. I went to a boy’s grammar school, but have taught in a state (‘comprehensive’) high school for 23 years. You can imagine my attitude to the EBacc.

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    • Which children are not suited to an academic curriculum? Why are they not suited to one?

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      • I put these questions to a range of my contacts, and here are their replies: Former college lecturer: Not all children are suited to an academic curriculum, it is impossible. Some are just going to go a certain route and some another.
        Head of Science: Undecided really as I do feel rightly or wrongly that there should be some means of comparison ie some kind of ‘level playing field’ by which to compare the abilities of young adults when they leave school. My problem with this is students who cannot relate to the curriculum at all. Is a more vocational alternative a better option? I don’t know. What about the huge numbers of students in inner city schools for whom the curriculum is hugely inappropriate and who perhaps lack the behavioural skills to benefit from lessons on academic topics completely alien to them? Tough questions!
        Former pupil, now a graduate: I don’t think all children are suited to an academic curriculum. Firstly, a lot of children/young people cannot access an academic curriculum, not because they don’t go to school but for the reason that we all learn in differing ways and formal education doesn’t suit their learning style. Many young people do not know what they want to be when they ‘grow up’ until late on in high school or even later on in life, and therefore find an academic curriculum a waste of time because they don’t understand why they have to learn certain subject areas, this only becomes apparent later on in life.

        Just because many children and young people aren’t suited to an academic curriculum doesn’t mean they aren’t ready to learn, a lot of children learn by ‘hands on learning’ such as: musicians, mechanics, engineers & artists but do not realise they are a hands on learner ’til they get to college and are then given the opportunity to learn this way. Additionally children/young people mature at different rates and are not ready or in the right mind-set to pursue education in a formal and focused manner.

        I don’t think you can categorise which children are/ are not suited to an academic curriculum. I personally think it depends on their life choices and aspirations. My reason for this is: depending what they choose to do once they have left compulsory formal education; if they choose to go to college and then further their study at university they have to be willing to learn both ways vocational study as well as academic study.

        I’m sure my reply may have been a lot different if I hadn’t done a degree in Youth Work and therefore worked with a lot of young people who are disillusioned and disengaged after their experiences at school.

        Head of English: I think some children aren’t suited to academic subjects because they are more skilled at practical and creative subjects and these may well lead to a job that they enjoy in the long term.

        Sports Teaching Specialist: I definitely don’t think all children are suited to an academic curriculum. However all children need to know the basics/foundations of all subjects before branching off to other areas. Lots of children learn through hands on rather than being told or reading how to do it. I don’t think it’s dependent on your background or situation, I think some people are academic some people aren’t. When I worked in a school in Italy what I loved about it was at 13, the school had a parents evening and they would suggest to the parents the style of learning suited to their child, then together the family would choose whether they carry on learning academically or whether to learn a trade as such and do more hands on subjects. I’m not saying it’s perfect or a solution but I think there is definitely scope for something similar to be used over here. Too much pressure for kids to go to University to the point that a lot of degrees are meaningless but stigma tells you if you have a degree you must be intelligent and suitable for work, which I personally 100% disagree with.

        Teacher in Canada: In Ontario the kids are not streamed at the elementary level (K-8) those with a learning disability (LD) are given modifications. Some kids who have trouble with academics will have accommodations. In HS (Gr. 9-12) students are streamed into Essentials, Applied, and Academic. So yes not all children are suited to the academic profile. More some kids may be academic in one area and applied in another. H for example was placed in academic English and Applied Math. Now we continue to debate the need for streaming here but we’ve had it for decades.

        Former pupil and now a teacher: I don’t think all are suited to an academic curriculum and people like me … I did horrendous in exams and always have been. I failed my A levels. My degree exams were horrendous too but I excelled in the practical. Outstanding for my teaching practice and special commendation from the principle of the University.

        Thanks again for the progress 8 information, which was helpful. I wont be taking any further part in this dialogue.

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    • I don’t think I think every 15 and 16 year old should study Art (though I like Michael Fordham’s idea about extending Key Stage 3 – http://clioetcetera.com/2014/04/10/planning-for-the-new-five-year-history-curriculum/ and think we could use that across the curriculim) but I’m open to persuasion.

      I do think every pupil should play a musical instrument (or at the very least have the opportunity to and be heavily encouraged to) with one-to-one tuition. I don’t think that’s economically viable in most schools but it would be my aspiration.

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  14. […] a great piece on Mr Lock’s blog about Progress 8 and how to go about calculating it. Really useful for data managers, and a good […]

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  15. Hi. I have got my head around the Progress 8 calculations per student and then how the average of these makes the school Progress 8 results but I can’t get my head around the next part. Someone please help!

    On average, around 60% of students nationally make ‘expected progress’. If we are to apply this to a school’s Progress 8 figures, then most schools would get an P8 score of -0.4. Is this correct?

    To work this out I put an excel sheet together of 100 students. I then took 40% of them down 1 grade in every subject they studied (to show that they did not make expected progress in these subjects). Their Attainment 8 was 60 but they got actual attainment was 50 overall, therefore there P8 score was -10/10 = -1. Overall the school’s P8 score was -0.4.

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    • Where do you get this from: “If we are to apply this to a school’s Progress 8 figures, then most schools would get an P8 score of -0.4. Is this correct? ”

      If that’s correct, I suspect it’s because of the curriculum design in the majority of schools.

      I can’t follow your excel spreadsheet but would be delighted to communicate by email – please contact me on twitter or otherwise (I’m not hard to find) if you wish.

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      • Hello – thanks for your comments. I have sent you a message on Twitter

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  16. […] was initiated from the DfE and now appears in some blogs such as this very thorough one from Stuart […]

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  17. Hi, do students outside of their year group ( ie either a year ahead or a year below their cohort) count in the Progress 8. As it stands now, there grades do not count in the league tables so will this stay the same?

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    • I believe they will not count until they are 16, at which point their first entry will count. I will double check that though

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