Add English National Curriculum Levels?

Asked by Richard Drake on 2009-07-23

SchoolTool seems to be coming along nicely - congratulations on version 1 !
Is there any chance of having English national curriculum levels built in? These would be useful for Years 1-9 (1st - 9th Grade)

National Curriculum micro levels are as follows:
(from low to high)

Each student is given a target grade at the begining of each school year and in our school we show a student's mark as green if they meet their target, amber if they are 1 grade below and red if 2 or more grades below.

The markbook (gradebook) should show the target grade (first column), the grade for each of the tasks and the current grade (based on an average). We also like to give a formative comment to the student for each major task/topic eg. IT-Desktop Publishing.

I wanted to set up a grade book for a course so it would be available for other teachers who teach the same course to use, but I couldn't work out how to get SchoolTool to do that.

happy to answer questions and test

Richard Drake
Secondary IT teacher

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Richard Drake
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Tom Hoffman (tom-hoffman) said : #1

Hi Richard.

Sorry for the somewhat slow response. I've been traveling. What is a "task" in this structure? An assignment, or more like a standard/competency/outcome?

Richard Drake (richard-drake) said : #2

Hope you had a good trip. I'm travelling tomorrow for holidays but will try and get to email periodically.

For me in this context a task would be anything that you give a National Curriculum grade for. You would just need to be able to give it a column heading/label. Is it necessary to classify it further? Thinking aloud, I guess classifying column headings allows you to weight different columns and support different marking scales. That would allow you later to view all columns of a certain class eg. competency/assignment/task.

Each of the tasks would need to be able to carry a comment to the student either formative to tell them what to do to improve or summative explaining why they got that mark.

The current grade would be a weighted average of these tasks (expressed as an NC grade) and at the end of the year would become the final grade. In my school we would give the grade only on the work done, we wouldn't worry about other factors like participation in lesson, attendance, or behaviour. They would be tracked separately, not combined into the academic grade.

Hope that is understandable - I'll be pleased to help more but there might be delays in my response
cheers - Richard

Tom Hoffman (tom-hoffman) said : #3

OK, so "anything that you give a National Curriculum grade for" is a defined set of tasks in the national curriculum?

And then the levels are equivalent to, say, an A-F grade in the US, that is, it is a grading scale, right?

Richard Drake (richard-drake) said : #4

English grades are a bit different to A-F grades. There are 'level descriptors' that determine the National Curriculum grade eg. "Change variables in a model and explain the impact" for level 5. Once they have achieved that grade they move on to more complex work "Test predictions by varying rules of the model" for level6. 5a is a strong level 5, 5c is a weak level 5 and 5b is in the middle. The children will progress through the levels during their school life.

For anyone interested in these grades for IT (or ICT in UK) they can be found here:

Here are some expected grades for different years for our students which are about average for the UK
Year 7 (7th Grade) -> level 4 or 5
Year 8 (8th Grade) -> level 5 or 6
Year 9 (9th Grade) -> level 6 or 7

A rule of thumb is that children are expected to improve 2 micro grades each year eg. 4a to 5b. Students are given a target grade at the start of the year. One key piece of functionality would be to show students grades green if the student is on or above target, amber if 1 below and red if 2 or more below. I see this conditional formatting as low hanging fruit: this will give a big 'wow factor' to a teacher but would be really easy to program.

Hope thats not too much detail !
Best Regards Richard

Tom Hoffman (tom-hoffman) said : #5

Yes, we can add the UK scale as a default score system.

Currently you can only record point-value scores in regular gradebook worksheets, but one possibility is creating report sheets for the national curriculum. In the longer term, the curriculum is probably a better case for the CanDo gradebook. We'd just need to get the curriculum formatted to be imported into CanDo. Depending on how the curriculum is organized (how may levels of hierarchy, etc.) that may require some additional tweaking.

Richard Drake (richard-drake) said : #6

Tom that sounds great. Thankyou!

RE:the CanDo gradebook. I did watch a few of the video tutorials on Cando but was finding it difficult to work out what exactly was the extra functionality that it offered in addtion to the SchoolTool grade book. So I am a little in the dark there. Incidently, the guy in the video called the whole system CanDo rather than "The CanDo module within SchoolTool" which I presume is how the average user should think of it. I need to get CanDo installed and start testing.

You are welcome to use me as a tester or if you need more info.

I was hoping to use School Tool in September as a shared gradebook for 5 teachers in our department. I think that might need extra functionality such as tweakable read/write permissions eg. so that only teachers could change marks of their pupils but everyone in the department could see it. Different departments in different countries might have different ideas. I did read somewhere in this forum that in Germany they would want to keep marks more private.

And, at the risk of getting ahead of myself it would be nice to allow heads of departments the rights to change permissions of people within their departments. So often IT departments are reluctant to give us admin privelidges and everytime you want to change them you have to call someone. ie. Its good to be able to share out some of those admin tasks

Tom Hoffman (tom-hoffman) said : #7

The basic difference with CanDo is that it is oriented toward assessing a student's achievement against a standard. Johnnie can write a persuasive essay (standard E1a) to level three. The SchoolTool gradebook focuses on scoring an assignment: Johnnie got a "3" on his persuasive essay on euthanasia. The report sheets are tied to sections and terms: Johnnie got a "3" in 11th grade English, Fall 2009.

Could you start the year with the permissions as they are now? We're planning on expanding the flexibility of the permissions system based on user feedback, but it is not something we necessarily can do *quickly*. Doing security right requires caution.