The Non-Linear Nature Of The National Curriculum

In Classroom Monitor, the number of points progress that a pupil has made between two dates is displayed in the pupil tracking table. Although this seems to suggest that points progress can be measured in the same way as in the old National Curriculum this is not the case. The reason for this is because of the differences between the structure of the two:

  • The old National curriculum was linear: objectives were grouped into levels and a pupil would complete one level before moving onto the next. This meant that progress could be “measured” in points.
  • The new National Curriculum is not linear: objectives are grouped into age related bands and a pupil may progress onto the next band without completing the previous one. This means that the old progress measures do not work in the same way as they did previously and progress displayed in points should be seen as an indicator not an absolute measure.

Whilst you can continue to use these points progress indicators if you wish, you need to make sure that you can understand how they have been calculated so that you can interpret and explain your tracking data. We also know that some LAs and MATs are still asking for progress to be reported in points and if this is the case you need to make sure that you understand the data that you are seeing. It's worth bearing in mind that Ofsted do not expect to see any particular method of tracking progress so they will not ask you for points progress.

Recommended Use Of Points Progress

If you want to look at points progress, we would advise that you always look year on year (e.g. Dec 15 to Dec 16). This will enable you to see where pupils are in relation to where they were at this point last year to easily judge whether they are where they should be.

The number of points that represent expected progress in a year will vary between frameworks although the principles remain the same in most. This page will use the Rising Stars Progression Framework to illustrate, so in the example:

  • Pupils showing 3 points progress in a year have made expected progress (e.g. 4 Beg+ to 5 Beg+)
  • Pupils showing more than 3 points progress in a year have made more than expected progress (e.g. 3 Dev+ to 5 Beg)
  • Pupils showing less than 3 points progress in a year have made less than expected progress (e.g. 4 Beg+ to 5 Beg)

Problems With Measuring Points Progress in a Non-Linear Curriculum

There are a number of difficulties when using points for time periods less than a year or interpreting them as measures. Particular issues that you may encounter are outlined below:

1. Tracking from the end of the previous academic year to a point in the current academic years

Points progress in parts of years tends to give a misrepresentative picture. This is because when a pupil moves from objectives for one year group/phase of learning into the next, their score will move into the next band, regardless of where they finished in the previous band.

The issue is illustrated in the table below, where 3 children have all been calculated to have achieved 1 point progress between July and November. This masks the fact that Kunal has achieved more of the stage 5 objectives than the rest of the pupils because he ended in July at a higher stage. Conversely, Ethan looks like he has made more progress than everyone else, 1.5 points, when he actually has made the same progress through stage 5 as most of the other pupils but simply because he finished last year at a lower point than Grace and Desta.

2. Pupils working below age related expectations

Pupils working below age related expectations are likely to be even more non-linear than those working at age related expectations. This is because pupils will not necessarily progress through all sub-stages before moving onto the next and they could do this quite rapidly. A pupil moving from a 1 Dev to a 3 Beg over the course of a year would show 5 points progress even though they haven’t physically made this. However, 5 points progress in a year still would indicate more than expected progress as everyone works hard to close the gaps.

This is also true of pupils who are new to English who will appear to make huge amounts of progress when measured in this wat. Of course, it will be fair to say they have made good progress but you should avoid reporting points progress as a measure.

3. Points progress for Gifted and Talented pupils

Again, these pupils who are generally working at greater depth are likely to progress in a non-linear fashion. As shown in the example above with Kunal, when moving between academic years these pupils will appear to have made less progress than their peers. One scenario is that they make rapid progress in the first part of an academic year and then slow. There may also be a case that high achieving pupils cannot make as rapid progress as you might expect because of the time it takes to cover the curriculum. For these pupils, looking year on year would be a much more appropriate indicator to check that they are making the same pace of progress as in the previous year.

Good ways of tracking progress in NC14

If you are ready to move away from using points, there are a number of alternative ways to demonstrate progress. These are discussed on the demonstrating progress help page.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact us.