English - What level am I?

APP grids are designed to test the teacher, never mind the kids

As you read this, I hope you find that the development of material is effectively managed across the text. Naturally, I will attempt to use some features of sentence structure to build up detail and clearly establish an appropriate style to maintain the reader's interest throughout.

Actually, that last one is a bit of a tall order. And I suspect some people have already stopped reading. Does that mean I do not deserve level 5? Should I worry that this bullet point will not be highlighted on my latest assessing pupils' progress (APP) grid.

Aside from my sneaking suspicion that highlighter manufacturers infiltrated the APP working parties at some point, I cannot help but wonder how they put some of the statements on the writing grids together. My particular favourite is "reasonably wide vocabulary, though not always appropriately". I like to imagine a bright Year 6 pupil throwing a few expletives into his newspaper article about the school cake sale. The headteacher might be furious, but he could put himself one step closer to that level 5.

There are a few statements that could be used to describe an average teaching day: "some appropriate ideas and content included", or, on misbehaviour, an "attempt to adopt viewpoint, though often not maintained or inconsistent". That makes me a level 3 teacher, but what it means for a piece of writing, who knows?

Half the problem, of course, is that the whole wretched thing appears to have been written as part pupil assessment and part teacher testing. Maybe the meeting was not quite how I picture it, but it is easy to believe that somebody on the committee was trying to trip us all up.

"Throw in a bit about syntax - that'll keep them on their toes."

"Oh yes, and include nominalisation; they won't like that!"

The highlight for us all, however, must be the proud mention of comma splicing. I am often tempted to draw pushy parents' attention to this one. "Oh, I'm sorry little Sebastian isn't a level 3 yet, but he just isn't showing evidence of comma splicing. Have you thought about a splicing tutor?"

There is bound to be a grammar geek in most schools who can explain the language to the rest of us, but it is much easier to sneak a peek at TES Resources and find the explanations - in terms we can all understand - for yourself.

Michael Tidd teaches at a primary school in West Sussex

What else?


Some useful writing assessment material has been shared by focus54 - choose a colour to highlight progress throughout the term.

Save time on assessment at key stage 3 with beckie_davies' English APP marking stickers.

In the forums

For conversations on the pros and cons of different models of assessment, check out our Assessment forum.

All resources and forum links at www.tes.co.ukresources011


Michael Tidd recommends an explanation of APP writing grids for key stages 1 and 2 from HyperBunny - it is proving very popular with teachers.

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