P levels to go ?

Stephen Smith's picture
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I'm picking up on the SLD Forum discussion group - (formerly one of the NGFL lists maintained by Becta - not sure who it's maintained by now) that the proposals for the Review of National Curriculum seem to indicate abandoning the current level descriptors in the National Curriculum - and by extension this would also mean abandoning the use of P levels for children and young people who have not yet reached Level 1 of the National Curriculum.

Or does it really mean this ?

The rumour seems to come from this "FAQ".

Which says :

"As set out in the Secretary of State’s letter to Tim Oates, we are removing the current system of levels and level descriptors as recommended by the Expert Panel. Instead, the focus in the new draft curriculum Programmes of Study for English, mathematics and science is on describing content that makes clear both what should be taught and what pupils should know and be able to do as a result. We will not be replacing the system of levels, but will consult further on how attainment should be graded as part of the statutory assessment arrangements."

The assessment of achievement (via attainment) for children with learning difficulties has always been quite a contentious issue - and there remain problems with the current P levels. Some of these arise around the lack of continuity between Foundation Stage, National Curriculum, and Post 16 - although the 'P' Levels approximate to a developmental assessment scale, they are nevertheless at least in theory a scale related to a particular curriculum - and so it makes little sense to use them at ages below 5 or above 16 - which makes it very difficult to demonstrate progress when crossing those age boundaries - other than by fudging the issues.

There's also the problem, that current P Levels are still insufficiently finely graded to demonstrate progress over shorter timescales such as a term (or in some cases even a year) - and often schools utilise 3rd party assessment tools - such as B Squared, and Pivats - to perform this role. These tools would presumably need completely re-authoring and re-validating if the P-Level criteria were to change.

The P-levels are not perfect - but they have proved very helpful for teachers of children with learning difficulties - I hope that the Government will be able to use the proposed review to improve the effectiveness of these assessment tools - but I rather suspect that they haven't thought about them yet.

We shall see.

Does anyone have any further information on this issue ?
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