Getting your Head round the L3VA

20th January 2017

Firstly, as ‘Progress’ is now the key performance table measure post-16 as well as in KS4 the L3VA is clearly a document that your Head does need to understand!

However, let’s not get fooled into thinking that the purpose of the L3VA is to facilitate school / sixth form improvement. As even the unvalidated version is not released to schools until November, the L3VA is primarily designed for ‘weighing the pig’. It comes out too late to wait for it before making strategic improvement decisions based on the summer’s results.

Like RAISEonline, the L3VA is also designed to provide ‘visitors’ with information to help support their judgements on your provision.

There are three significant changes to the structure of the 2016 L3VA, changes which were first seen in the summer release of your Shadow 2015 L3VA:

  1. The prior attainment on academic courses in the L3VA being only based on GCSEs.
  2. As the same average KS4 score may place students in different prior attainment bands for each subject studied gaining the same grades in each subject will lead to different value-added scores based on national outcomes just as scoring 1.00 in Alps gains different subjects different value-added grades.
  3. The inclusion of ‘discontinued’ AS results (those that did not subsequently lead to an A Level result) as 0.5 A Levels in the calculation of your A Level VA score.

The final point is compounded by the fact that students who took AS in 2016, 2015 and 2014 are counted towards the overall total. The ‘ghosts’ from 3 summers ago are students who left after taking at least 1 AS in 2014. As they have turned 18 without the DfE finding them in any subsequent educational provider they are counted back to you now.

In some schools the discontinued AS outcomes have a very significant impact on the overall A Level (and Academic) VA. To be blunt, the more that schools used the 4AS model dropping to 3As, the greater the vulnerability, although losing students completely at the end of Y12 because of a poor performance across the board at AS is also a key factor.

In one school, their L3VA A Level VA is made up of 680 entries. 253 of these are ‘discontinued’ AS results. Their overall A Level VA is -0.03.

In 2015 their L3VA was +0.11 and their Alps T score was 2. In 2016 their Alps T score was 3, based on their 440 actual A Level entries.

Interestingly there were only 427 A Level entries in the L3VA because the results of out of age Y14 students did not count. How this can impact at subject level is demonstrated by their Chemistry statistics:

Subject L3VA LCI UCI L3VA entries Alps entries Alps VA
Chemistry 0.33 -0.15 0.82 21 29 2

So, 29 students took A Level Chemistry this summer and the department scored grade 2 Alps. 8 of the results were not counted in the L3VA. The results of the 21 scored +0.33 (around one-third of the results were a grade better than might be expected) but the department was denied a sig+ rating because the Lower Confidence Interval was -0.15.

Which of Alps and the L3VA provides the school with a clearer view of their overall A Level performance and the quality of provision in their excellent Chemistry department.

This brings me to my final point – how useful is the L3VA?

Firstly, even if the L3VA provided you with a crisp and easily comprehensible evaluation of your sixth form L3 provision, decisions about improvement priorities are taken in August / September not in November / December.

That is why around 1 600 schools and colleges obtain Alps reports by or before the start of the new academic year.

Secondly, if you still used the majority of AS qualifications in 2016 with Y12, the L3VA has no evaluation of those results, whereas an ALPS as or an Alps Monitoring Point Zero (MPZ) report at the start of Y13 will give you a clear ‘half-time’ score.

Thirdly, the L3VA is an annual snapshot. It simply looks at the outcomes of a single cohort whereas an Alps report with its 4 year trends enables you to evidence your post-16 narrative.

Fourthly, this extract from a recent Ofsted report might suggest that inspectors are also having an easier time evaluating provision through an Alps lens: ‘Managers and teachers have worked successfully to ensure that the progress made from starting points by students on A-level and AS-level courses remains outstanding under Alps criteria. In 2015/16, just over 80% of A-level students achieved a grade equal to or higher than their Alps target grade’.

In conclusion, you should not ignore your L3VA. Look at it carefully ensuring that you do understand its key messages, but also think carefully about whether other valid evidence sheds a different light on your provision.

The theme of my breakout today is ‘Creating an effective SEF through the Ofsted Post-16 Dashboard, Alps and L3VA: a practical workshop’. In it I will be demonstrating a framework that you may want to use in your school or college to ensure that your Post-16 SEF references all of your L3 data persuasively.


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