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A Value Added Programme for Schools

Education by its nature is something that must be done over time, piece by piece. It is inherently something that requires a step-by-step approach and its longer-term effects are often difficult to make tangible. We need to be able to measure both quantity of education we accomplish each week as well as quality of education occurring over longer periods.

It’s difficult to measure in any meaningful way the week-by-week production that occurs in a school across a range of very different subjects with very diverse approaches, all of which might use their own choice of teaching method, syllabus and examination board. Two big steps can change this: the school-wide implementation of a common curriculum; and the establishment of ‘value added’ as a valid measure of attainment.

An evolution can then took place: all teachers can be asked to place every child in their classes into ‘value added frames’ for their subject, which show a range of abilities. Using the middle frame, or average ability students, teachers can be asked to design a curriculum around what that level of student could achieve over the course of a year. This will yield a workable ‘Completions’ statistic, defined in a practical way as the amount of work that an average student can accomplish within a week.

Teachers can then submit Progress Boards based on all of this. They usually arrive in various formats ranging from hand-written notes or lists through to complex spreadsheets and everything in between. The point is not the format but the end result: a workable way of measuring what actually occurs week-by-week in the school, no matter what the subject.

The programme is designed to help implement a new Value Added system so that quality of delivery can be monitored and assisted where needed, thus maximising the school’s beneficent impact upon its pupils over a period of time.

The Completions Programme measures weekly progress through a body of work in a range of subjects. This is useful to swiftly detect strengths and weaknesses in ongoing delivery, enabling quick action through the support of weaker classes or subjects and alignment of resources to boost strong classes and subjects. Its primary purpose is to make sure that the least possible time is wasted, for the sake of the students.

This Value Added Programme measures longer-term educational effects of curriculum delivery upon individual students. This is useful to detect longer-term individual effects and to assess the real quality of delivery. Its primary purpose is to make sure that the greatest possible gain is achieved, for the sake of the students.

Combined, then, the two programmes work together to help to ensure that the maximum gains are achieved for all students with the greatest possible efficiency.

Purpose: To ensure smooth and effective implementation of the new Value Added Frames in a school.

1. Have teachers draw up a grid, per the following, placing each student in one of the following ‘frames’ or columns:


SUBJECT: ___________ HALF TERM: _________

Frame 1 (struggling with basics)

Frame 2 (just grasping basics, no more)

Frame 3 (coping with basics and some advanced concepts)

Frame 4 (mastering basics and some advanced concepts)

Frame 5 (mastering subject, requiring stretch work)

2. Have teachers review these grids each half-term.

3. Collect in the data each half-term as a running record of the school’s quality of delivery. You can develop whatever admin around this that seems useful or appropriate.

4. Evalute these Value Added Frames Grids, plus any attached notes and accompanying material from subject teachers. (Note: not every student will progress along the Frames, but there should be evidence that at least some students are progressing or that any ‘stuck’ students are being addressed.) ___

5. Understand to a sufficient degree how each subject teacher has dealt with the requirement for value to be added to students. This may require visiting a teacher and viewing their subject in operation. ___

6. Once the Value Added data has been reported for two half terms, review and see if any line or subject needs correction so that value is being added. ___

7. Using a checklist of subjects, spot-check each teacher’s delivery. (Note that you don’t have to check every subject, just the ones which you suspect might be having trouble adding value over a half term.) ___

8. Correct anything found. ___

As a rough guide, each subject should be adding value as measured by the Frames to at least some students in their class over a period of about 6 weeks. This allows time for the teacher to address varying abilities and speeds. The simple datum is:

If no value is being added, the teaching approach needs to be evaluated. If too much value is being reported as having been added, the understanding of ‘value added’ needs to be evaluated.

For example, if Year 8 Geography has 19 students in it in a week, then at least four of those students should be moving across about one frame in a half-term. If the Value Added is consistently reported as the same, or consistently reported as ‘every student is suddenly Frame 5’, you know that something is wrong.

If for some reason there is a wild variation in this data after 6 weeks, you will need to investigate to make sure that the teacher understands what Value Added is and how to report it.

Given the above, by the end of the first half term the expectation would be that the total Value Added being reported was approximately (allowing for absenteeism, differing student speeds and so forth) a 20% shift of students towards the right, i.e. towards the next frame of ability.

If the Value Added is 20% or more, then the condition is acceptable. (It shouldn’t be too far above that, otherwise something is not being reported correctly, per the above datum.)

If the Value Added is markedly less than 20% in total, then the condition is unacceptable. Rather than apply a general remedy to the whole school, your task would be to find out which specific subject is performing below par and correct whatever is found.

This might take some work to get up and running fully in a school, but it will be worth it for the students and the teachers.

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