18th August 2016
Karen Woolven, Alps Senior Education Consultant
Alps targets for KS5 are based on student GCSE scores. With the introduction of 9-1 grades in England, the methodology used to calculate average GCSE scores is changing. We will update this page in Summer 2017 to reflect this change.
The ethos behind the Alps system is to inspire students to achieve their very best and to help teaching staff to support their students in doing this. With this as our goal, our system sets aspirational targets based on the achievements made not by the average, but by the top 25% of the nation.
These minimum target grades can be generated in your centre for your students by using our Alps Data Collection Software (ADCS). The latest version of this can be downloaded for free.
Best time to set targets?
The start of a new academic year is the perfect time to share targets with your new students as you welcome them onto their chosen courses. It can also be very effective at this point to refocus the processes you have in place for those students who are continuing into their second year of study.
The best performing providers tend to set individual targets with students during the very first week of term, once the context of the targets has been explained in terms of A level/AS level/BTEC National grades.
Ideally in all schools and colleges, parents should be involved by having the target setting process explained. This could be via an early parents meeting followed up by regular written communication. This can help quell misunderstandings. A grade D is a significant achievement at A level, whereas it can often be considered as a failure at GCSE, for example.
As the key to the Alps target setting is the average GCSE score, large colleges collect GCSE outcomes at enrolment, enabling minimum target grades to be calculated and available to staff and students during induction. Many schools do the same for students joining them in the sixth form from other schools.
The reasoning behind this is that it enables subject teachers to reference all formal assessment practice to this grade and give clear guidance to students on how to reach their target (or beat it!) right from the start.
AS level or A level target grades at the start of the course?
The minimum target grades for AS level and A level are different. These outcomes, based on the full DfE national dataset, indicate that students actually perform better at A level than at AS level.
The majority of schools and colleges see sixth form study as a two year course and start out with the aspirational A level targets, carefully explaining the two year journey to students and the academic and pastoral support they can expect along the way.
Other providers regard each academic year separately and view the AS level targets as a realistic starting point for 16 year old students beginning a demanding A level course. At the start of the second year they revisit these targets with individual students and substitute the AS level for A level target grades.
To use AS level or A level target grades at the start of year 12 is therefore an internal choice, however, whichever is used, the Alps report analysis will measure performance against the AS benchmarks for the AS examinations and the A level benchmarks for the A level examinations.
How do we check students’ targets are being reached?
Leaving it to the final end of year report is too late! The close tracking of assessments and homework against target at each level of your school or college during the year is key to ensuring successful final outcomes.
The best institutions have formal whole centre monitoring opportunities during the year where progress towards targets is discussed between subject teachers and students individually and support is targeted at those who may be at risk.
These high performing schools and colleges also tend to have outstanding pastoral tutors who monitor a student’s overall performance across all subjects and help students manage their support programme.
Alps Monitoring reports have exactly the same format as the end of year reports, but analyse the internal monitoring grades awarded by subject teachers. Consequently, they can be requested at convenient points in the curriculum programme for your school or college and will give a complete overview of performance at these points.
For further information on the Alps Monitoring reports and how these have been used by other schools and colleges see our case studies.
Post tagged as: Target Setting