Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Concerns about LAT

In addition to the CVA Panda, ASCL has serious concerns about the new Learner Achievement Tracker (LAT), the LSC's equivalent of the Pupil Achievement Tracker which will measure value-added at post-16.

The main problem centres around the uneven weighting of 'fail' grades. Because the LAT is using the new QCA points scoring system, a pre-condition specified by the DfES, there would have been a disproportionate gap between 'fail' and E grades.

Quite early in the development phase, ASCL pointed out that any fails would result in a massively negative value-added score, whatever the prior attainment of the student.

Surprisingly, the solution that has been adopted is for students who fail a subject at A2 (or AS) level to be awarded (for value-added purposes only) a number of QCA points equal to his or her average points score in all subjects at GCSE level.

ASCL believes this is wholly unacceptable. It fails in its prime purpose of providing a measure of the student's attainment in each subject under consideration, and it means that a 'fail' will be worth a different number of points for different students. In general, a bright student who fails will get more points.

By going down this route, we believe two years of work, which was near to producing a measure that would have been useful for internal monitoring in schools and colleges, will be invalidated.

A more fundamental issue is that it appears that Ofsted plans to use the LAT as the main source of data on progress and achievement when inspecting schools and colleges, much the way it uses the CVA Panda for pre-16.

As with the Panda, the danger is that the LAT will become the only source of evidence on which inspectors base their decisions.

John Dunford wrote to Jacqui Smith in April raising these concerns and urging a course of action. The issue has now been taken up with the new ministers. For a copy of the letter, to go www.ascl.org.uk and go to 'news' and 'current issues'.

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