I think this article highlights a crucial point which is at the very heart of education in the UK.
In any system design, you must take account of the idea that any system is changed by virtue of how it is measured.
In the case of the education system, one of the central ideas of measuring the effectiveness of a school has been how many students are above or below the curve. Although this is a perfectly reasonable ambition, it does raise a few fundamental questions. Two of the most obvious being “is the curve we are creating accurate” and “are we simply creating a self-fulfilling prophecy”.
A ‘Life without levels’ was an attempt to try and fix the issue of only working to the curves. It suggested that teachers stop the practice of giving levels out to students or parents. The first question that a parent generally wants answering at parent’s evening though is “are they doing ok?”
Our mechanism for dealing with this educational enigma is called the skills map. This map is a visual representation of the skills used in a particular subject. The individual skills are colour coded to display the competence of the student in that area and are linked to a set of criteria that describe how the student can improve.
This approach also means that streaming is less of a requirement as the skills map also gives a means for differentiating. We want to be focusing on ‘how high can we lift this student’ rather than are we keeping them afloat’.