Friday, 2 June 2017

Student Target Grade Bullseye or Bullshit?

Each of the students in your class has a target grade. As a teacher you are expected to ensure that your students achieve these grades. Simple.

To make sure that you are doing everything possible to make this happen, your school collects data regularly on what grade each of your students is achieving. You enter this data into SIMS and SLT can look at this to see who is not achieving their targets.

If any of your students is not demonstrating that they are on target, SLT will want to know what you are doing about it. They will want an action plan. They will want “interventions”. SLT will not be happy until the student is on track to achieve their target. SLT will report to governors, who are tracking what % of students are on target. If students are not on target, governors will want to know what SLT are doing about it.

As a subject teacher, you have no real idea what the target actually means. Everyone else seems to be happy with targets, so you go along with it. When it is time to submit your target data for your class of 30 students, you have a target for each student and you have to give that student’s current achievement. Do you put, “on target”, “ahead of target”, “below target”? If you put “below target” you know that you are going to be subject to an inquisition from your line manager (because they are going to get an inquisition from their line manager). You will need to say what it is about the student’s performance that is “below target”. You have no idea because you don’t know what the target means anyway.

So, you mentally rank all the students in your class in order of achievement. Most of them “must” be “on target”. After all, the target is what this child should achieve. Eric rarely comes to lessons so Eric cannot be “on target”. Eric must be “below target” and we know why. He never comes to class. Amanda does such a lot of work at home and is always polite. If anyone is “above target”, it must be Amanda. She will feel much better if we give her “above target” and she is a nice person.

So we have 28 students who are “on target”, Eric is “below target”, Amanda is “above target”. Go to SIMS, and copy all the targets into the achievement column, but edit the score for Eric and Amanda.
Make sure you keep a copy of this because when the next data collection happens, Amanda must remain “above target” or there will be all hell to pay about her going backwards and you will be asked to explain why she is no longer “above target”. As you have no idea what a target is anyway, this would be difficult to explain. So avoid this at all costs.

With this system you can complete your reports even before you have taught much to the students. The students are happy (except for Eric but he never comes anyway), SLT are happy, the governors are happy, parents are happy.

The only people who are not happy are those teachers who have not yet worked out this system is used by every other teacher in the country.

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