Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Why Value Added Works

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Why Value Added Works

Article excerpt

the data doctor

Value added is a hot topic right now. With levels removed, VA is now the Department for Education's only measure of progress and, consequently, its profile has been raised.

Of course, VA has been around for years but its status has always been overshadowed by levels because a) floor standards were linked to levels of progress, and b) hardly anyone understood VA. But now, with floor standards for both primary and secondary schools based upon VA thresholds, everyone understandably wants to know how it works.

VA works as follows: each pupil's score at key stage 2 is compared against a national average KS2 score for pupils with the same key stage 1 Average Point Score (APS).

But we could just as easily do away with KS1 APS and replace it with something else - a colour, a letter, a symbol. Anything that enables you to group and identify pupils by their prior attainment.

Analogy time: imagine you enter a 10K race. When you register you are asked what pace group you'd like to be put in: slow, medium, fast. You're a keen runner so you choose to go in the fast group and are handed a green vest to wear. Obviously, the medium-pace runners wear orange vests, and the slower group wear red (everyone loves a RAG-rating system).

You feel good that day, having trained hard, and run your race in 41 minutes. You're thrilled because you've run a PB and you're 10 minutes faster than the average time that day. Unfortunately, that's not what the race organisers are interested in; they're interested in how your time compares against the average time for the green vest group, which happens to be 37 minutes. …

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