Wednesday, 23 July 2014

How to calculate L4+RWM

It's that time of year again. I should have written this a few weeks ago when the results were made available on NCA tools but haven't had a chance, so sorry about that. 

Right, first of all, let's bust a few myths and kill some (very) bad practice. This is how NOT to calculate L4+RWM:

1) Do not assume it is the lowest of the three percentages achieving L4 in the individual subjects. It might be; it might not, and

2) Never, EVER calculate the mean average of the three percentages for L4 in the individual subjects. 

The latter is the most heinous data crime I can think of. If you do this, stop doing it. Stop it now.

If you are struggling to understand why, then imagine a cohort of 9 pupils, of which 3 achieve L4 in reading, 3 achieve L4 in writing, and 3 achieve L4 in maths. Using both the above 'methods', the answer would be 33%. But what happens if we are dealing with a different 3 pupils in each subject. Then the percentage achieving L4+ in reading, writing and maths is 0%. To calculate L4+RWM you have to start at pupil level and work up.

So, how to calculate L4+RWM. First, log onto NCA Tools and download the results summary file. The spreadsheet will have columns for pupil name, gender, DoB, and levels for reading, GPS (SPaG), and maths. You need to delete the GPS levels (they are not used in this calculation) and replace them the writing levels. You can cut and paste from another source but ONLY after you have made sure it's in the same order. Might be best to manually type them in. Also, change the column heading to 'writing level' so it makes sense when you look back at it.

You should now have a spreadsheet with levels for reading, writing and maths for all pupils. If any pupils have an N or a B you should replace this with 0,1 or 2. It's not that important which as far as the calculation is concerned, as none are L4+ anyway.

If any data is missing then this will affect your unvalidated RAISE. Changes should take effect in the validated RAISE, which be published in Spring 2015. So, if you want to calculate the true (final) L4+RWM figure, put their TA levels in; if you want your unvalidated RAISE figure then change them to 0. Probably best to make a copy and do both so you know where you stand. 

Now, click in the cell in the first blank column, to the right of the maths level column; and, for the first pupil, enter the following formula:


Assuming the levels for reading, writing and maths appear in columns E, F and G respectively. Please check this and modify column references in the formula accordingly.

Then copy the formula down to the last child. You can either copy the cell, select all the remaining cells, and paste. Or simply grap the bottom right corner of the cell containing the formula, when highlighted, and drag it down to the last pupil.

The formula will assign a value of 1 to those pupils with L4 or above in each of the individual subjects, and a 0 to those that don't fulfill the criteria, e.g. are L4 in reading and writing but L3 in maths. If the pupil is L5 in all subjects they will get a 1; if they are L5 in two subjects and L3 in another they will be assigned a 0.

Then you just need to calculate percentage of pupils with a 1. You can count up the pupils with a 1 and divide by total number of pupils, or you can use a formula such as:


This will sum the 1s (i.e. those pupils that meet the criteria) and divide it by the total number of pupils. 

Please note: H2:H30 in the above formula is the range. It is an example. It assumes our 1 and 0 data exists in column H and that pupils range from row 2 to row 30 (i.e. there are 29 pupils). It may be that your formula is in a different column, and chances are you have more or fewer pupils, so please don't just copy the above formula. Adjust it to take account of the column references and full range of pupils, or it won't work.

You should now have a proportion figure in the cell containing your average formula (e.g. 0.86). To convert to a percentage simply click on the % button in the menu bar.

Finally, if you want to calculate L5+RWM, then start again in a new column and change the initial formula to:


And repeat the process.

A word of warning: if you copy and paste the 1/0 formula into another column to calculate L5+ then the column references will change (unless you've fixed the position using the $ sign - worth learning how to do this if you don't know already). For this little project, probably best to just retype the formula from scratch, changing the 4 to 5, as described above, and keeping the column references the same. 

So, that's it: how to calculate %L4+RWM. Hope it's useful.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

VA calculator: confessions of a VA nerd

The latest VA calculator can be downloaded here

Now in its fourth year, I thought I'd write a blog about my VA tool, which many schools use to calculate VA and to help with target setting. The original version came about in 2012 for two reasons:

1) I discovered, whilst giving a talk on RAISE to secondary maths subject leaders, that I understood far less about VA than I thought I did, and

2) I used the RAISE KS1-2 Pupil ready reckoner tool (which can be downloaded from the RAISE library) and it was awful.

I am now a self-confessed, fully subscribed, card holding VA nerd.

The problem with the RAISE tool is that you can only calculate VA for one pupil at a time. Before adding the next pupil's data, you have to delete the previous one. A bit of a pain. So, I set about pulling the ready reckoner apart and building the formulae and coefficients into an easy to use spreadsheet. I now produce two versions for KS2. Both calculate estimates from KS1 baselines in the same way, but one version calculates VA using test scores so is intended for Year 6 who have actual KS2 results. The other calculates potential VA using end of KS2 predictions in the form of sublevels, in place of test scores, and is therefore more approximate. Here, I'll deal with the latest version, which calculates VA for Year 6 using their test scores (and teacher assessment for writing). It uses 2015 level thresholds and 2014 coefficients (more on that below).

This first screenshot shows the VA calculator with KS1 results added for 8 Y6 pupils. You can see the calculated APS estimates, equivalent sublevel and expected progress (i.e. the progress required to reach the APS estimate and thus get a VA score of 100). 

The estimates are based on average progress made by pupils with the same prior attainment nationally in the same year. This is where this tool has its limitations, because we are always one step behind, using methodology from the previous year (2013 in this case). We won't have the 2014 coefficients until the ready reckoner tool is released in the autumn alongside RAISE.

What shocks some schools are those estimates where expected progress exceeds 14 points. You can see a few examples above; and pupil 4 has to make over 15 points of progress in reading to reach their estimate (i.e. to make VA 100). It is clear that many are unaware of this, believing that pupils need to just exceed 12 points progress to get a positive VA score; and evidently some Ofsted Inspectors also make this mistake, as the following anecdote reveals. A head teacher I know decided to use the VA calculator to set targets in their school. KS1 data was entered for all pupils in KS2 (Years 3-6) and estimates calculated. The HT then decided to set targets by going a sublevel above the estimate, thus ensuring they were aspirational and aiming at a high positive VA score. During the inspection the HT showed the spreadsheet to the inspector, who studied it, look confused, and asked "so, does it just add on 12 points, then?" I think the HT quite enjoyed explaining how VA worked to the inspector. If you want to know more about KS2 VA, please read my blog on the subject.

This next screen shot shows the KS2 results added and VA calculated for individual pupils. 

The spreadsheet converts the test scores (and writing TAs) to points scores. These are then compared against the estimates and the difference calculated (see end columns for differences). The differences are then added to 100 to produce individual VA scores seen in columns BE to BH.

I must point out that the VA for the cohort is not the average of the individual VA scores. This is what an inspector, looking at this spreadsheet, told an HT recently but it's not quite as simple as that. This average figure is known as the 'unshrunken VA score'. It doesn't not take account of the size of the cohort and therefore does not allow for fair and reasonable comparison of schools' VA scores. The following table, contained in the School VA estimates tab of the VA calculator, calculates both the unshrunken and the shrunken VA scores. It is the latter that is added to 100 to give the final scores for the cohort.

Note that the tool also provides the confidence interval and the significance if any. In this example, all VA is deemed to be in line, which means that pupils are making broadly the same amount of progress as pupils with the same prior attainment on average nationally. This school's maths VA score of 101 is probably enough for a larger school to be significantly above, but using the confidence interval given above we can see that this cohort would need a VA score of 101.8 in maths to be sig+.

Quick rant about writing: writing estimates are as refined as those for reading and maths yet the actual end point is a whole level, based on a teacher assessment. Most pupils will therefore gain a point score of 21 (L3), 27 (L4) or 33 (L5). If the pupil has an estimate of, say 29 points (a 4A) then they need to get a L5 in writing in order to gain a positive VA score (+4). A level 4 in writing would mean they were 2 points short of VA. This is not the case in reading or maths where they can get a positive VA score by getting an extra mark or two in the test. The example above has three pupils with 4A writing estimates, all of whom got a L4 teacher assessments. Each of these ends up more than 2 points short of their estimates. A VA measure that compares an up obtainable fine grade estimate against a whole level point score seems unintuitive to me. Consequently, I don't have a great deal of faith in writing VA.

One more screen shot to show you. This one simply works out the average estimated APS and expected progress rate for each subject, thus giving the user an idea of what the cohort needs to do, on average, in order to get past the VA 100 line.

So, that's it. It's a useful tool, free to anyone who wants it (click link at top of this page) and should give you a very good idea of VA in advance of RAISE, so, could be useful if you are inspected before October/November (whenever RAISE is published).

And next year we can look forward to a whole new world of VA fun. I can't wait.

Happy calculating!