English GCSE results are badly down this year - NATIONALLY

(62 Posts)

A picture has been emerging tonight of schools up and down the country reporting English Language results severely down on predicted forecasts.

Biggest area of contention is - predictably - C/D borders.

Most schools are reporting an average 10% dip.

Reports say that AQA - amongst other boards - have, without any warning at all, raised grade boundaries significantly, thus affecting grades. Most students seem to have dropped a grade at least from their mock/predicted grades.

This will impact enormously on students and their FE paths; schools who face going into special measures when their A-C results dip and Ofsted swoop. More schools will be effectively forced to become academies.

Students are being used as political pawns and it absolutely STINKS. I am dreading handing out envelopes to those students tomorrow who will get D grades, which a year ago, with exactly the same work would have got Cs.

I am gutted.

BringBack1996 Wed 22-Aug-12 23:01:01

Is this for English Language, Itchy? The AQA English Lit grade boundaries don't look too bad so it must be.

English Lit Unit 1(H) - 19/60 for a C
English Lit Unit 2(H) - 16/54 for a C
English Lit Unit 3(H) - 16/54 for a C
English Lit Unit 5(H) - 21/40 for a C

Yes, language.
Guardian article here

Champneys Wed 22-Aug-12 23:09:55

it is a nightmare!

noblegiraffe Thu 23-Aug-12 00:05:42

In contrast, the TES maths section is discussing how ridiculously low some of the grade boundaries are for maths this year, with one exam board only requiring 55% for a C grade on the foundation paper and less than 80% for an A* on the higher paper.

Not sure what's going on.

Champneys Thu 23-Aug-12 06:37:07

which board is this noble? Please say edexcel...... ds already looking stuffed on the english... sad

Bunbaker Thu 23-Aug-12 06:59:06

I don't like the sound of this. DD's school is only "satisfactory" and this could be very bad news for the HT and the governors if it goes into special measures.

If they have changed the marking criteria ofsted should base their findings on what the grades would have been based on last year' marking criteria.

Bunbaker Thu 23-Aug-12 07:00:10

I couldn't get anything on the link itchy

noblegiraffe Thu 23-Aug-12 07:20:13

champney it was OCR linear. I think Edexcel linear had 26% for a C on the higher paper.

And the TES website has gone down for an upgrade angry

loveisalaserquest Thu 23-Aug-12 07:32:12

"Upgrade" my foot... one thread on the TES has been quoted extensively already. Think they're covering themselves.

noblegiraffe Thu 23-Aug-12 07:53:00

The Guardian story is here

EdithWeston Thu 23-Aug-12 07:53:48

Isn't this the first set of exams since the 'name and shame' abandoning of the practice of exam boards holding seminars in which they coach teachers on what (very specifically) they will be looking for?

Sorry Bunbaker - it's working ok for me?

EdithWeston Thu 23-Aug-12 07:57:07

And has anyone released data about how many candidates received which grades? The article is currently citing anecdotal evidence from a couple of schools and it's not possible (yet) to say if their experience is representative.

captainhastings Thu 23-Aug-12 07:57:37

There was a problem with English a Level as well, Lit I think .

Edithweston - that wasn't common practice in any way. The vast majority of schools can only guess the nature of the papers' contents, based on previous years.

The difference this year is that the grade boundaries for C grades was upped by 10% which is unprecedented. It will affect thousands of students.

Every school I've spoken to or heard about personally, on Twitter and TES have reported 10% drop in expected results: maybe about 20 schools so far. I've never known that before.

EdithWeston Thu 23-Aug-12 08:06:10

All schools could choose to attend the seminars, and large numbers did. The extent of the practice was thoroughly bubbled in the press and it's wrong to try to portray the widespread practice as something less than that.

I was asking about national figures as I remember talking to teacher in the family this time last year about their maths results which had been much lower (at the C/D boundary) than expected. Although this happened in a number of vociferous schools, it wasn't a national trend. That's why I'm keen to see the full picture.

Champneys Thu 23-Aug-12 08:07:12

captainHastings - yes DD got D for english AS level. Was gutted as A* in GCSE last year. She faired better than her friends who were also top grades last year but E and U this year. Most have given up and not going back. Which is very sad.

Champneys Thu 23-Aug-12 08:07:43

Lit/Lang that was.

EdithWeston Thu 23-Aug-12 08:14:23

Apologies: I've checked on the ban on seminars will not have taken effect in time to have had an impact on these results.

MigratingCoconuts Thu 23-Aug-12 08:16:59

Edith...I'm a teacher and it wasn't widespread practise.

boringly, students generally get their excellent GCSe results through lots of hard work...but that makes for dull headlines, doesn't it!!!!

EdithWeston Thu 23-Aug-12 08:22:49

I won't derail the thread further, as it is irrelevant this time round. But if you look at the published information about number of such seminars held, and typical attendance, and compare it to the number of secondary schools in England/Wales, then it is easy to see how very widespread it was.

This reinforces why I am interested in what the national picture of results, not just the first on-line reports from individual schools.

MigratingCoconuts Thu 23-Aug-12 08:24:22

Not by me, it isn't.

BringBack1996 Thu 23-Aug-12 08:35:24

I've had a quick look on the AQA website, and for the papers that my DS sat there is only a few marks difference between this year's and last year's C grade boundary. I might be looking at the wrong thing, though.

noblegiraffe Thu 23-Aug-12 08:47:56

Were you looking at Foundation or Higher? It's apparently the Foundation paper that has gone from 43 for a C in Jan 2012 to 53 this time.

What is also being said on the TES website is that the controlled assessment C grade boundary has changed from 43 in Jan to 46 now. BUT students who sit their exam in June could have submitted their controlled assessment for moderation in Jan and so have been judged against a lower grade boundary than students who submitted for June moderation, even though both sets of students sat exactly the same exam in June. This seems outrageous if true.

JustGettingByMum Thu 23-Aug-12 08:49:41

Edith, do you have a link? I would be interested to see which schools send staff to these seminars. I doubt very much it is teachers from my DCs comp, as coconuts says they achieve their results on hard work by pupils and staff. Boring but true.

EdithWeston Thu 23-Aug-12 09:18:57

Rats, closed the window and am in poor reception now- but if you google "exam board teachers seminars", you get hits to all sorts of sites giving same info: the boards themselves, Guardian and TES for commentary on them, and DofE. AQA alone was running over 4,000 seminars pa.

Figures on numbers of secondary schools readily available from many Govt sites. Precisely which schools sent staff, and at what frequency doesn't seem to be published other than anecdotally, and I agree there is scope for huge variation.

noblegiraffe Thu 23-Aug-12 09:25:23

Running the seminars themselves wasn't a problem, it was that some seminars were giving out too much information, which was a problem.

"The inquiry looking into the claims made by the newspaper found there were problems with some seminars, but these were not systemic and related to limited specific incidents."


It doesn't matter how many seminars you have found to be running, Edith, because the investigation found no problem with OCR seminars, or AQA seminars.

MigratingCoconuts Thu 23-Aug-12 09:36:36

Exactly noble...the fact that seminars were running is not the issue.

These have always been invaluable tools to communicate between exam board and schools on such issues as coursework expectations (really, needed as a scientist and I can bore you with the details as to why if you wish)

The headlines only applied to some incidences.

Again, I say, kids, in general, did well because they worked hard...

FunnyLittleFrog Thu 23-Aug-12 15:27:42

Been in my school today and the head tells me that schools across the region have been affected badly. In most cases results are down by 5 - 10 per cent.

Agree with the OP about children being used a pawns. Yes, it stinks.

JustGettingByMum Thu 23-Aug-12 16:31:45

I think the results must be very variable. I've just seen my DCs school announce their best ever results at 80% A*-C inc maths and English. Don't know if individually some students have dropped grades, but looks as though the cohort has done amazingly well
disclaimer, none of my dc are in ths cohort grin

MigratingCoconuts Thu 23-Aug-12 16:37:12

Same with our school...

I heard them discussing the difference between January results and June results in English within one County.

Whilst I understand the need to debate the concept of grade inflation/deflation... Messing around with students already in the process of preparing for exams, and changing the goal posts seems very unfair to me.

Change should be considered and planned for so no one gets screwed over.

BringBack1996 Thu 23-Aug-12 16:44:37

DS's school's A*-C inc Maths and English have gone down quite a lot, with 17% not getting at least a C in English. That's at a non selective independent.

phlebas Thu 23-Aug-12 16:49:04

the school dd1 is starting in September has gone from 77% to 71% 5 or more A*-C including English and maths. I think that's a pretty significant drop.

mrz Thu 23-Aug-12 19:00:01

Mr Gove wants to scrap GCSEs ...any connection hmm

noblegiraffe Thu 23-Aug-12 19:01:23

Just so that people are clear, exam boards have said that there have been a shift in exam entry patterns so that more lower ability students have taken the exam this summer than in the winter, which is how they explained the fall in results for English today.

What they haven't explained is why, when grade boundaries are decided after the exams are marked and results are collated that they decided that because more 'lower ability' students sat the exams, results had to fall and in order to make sure that more students failed, they had to raise the D/C grade boundary by 10 marks in order to force the required increase in failures.
Perhaps the 'lower ability' students were just better prepared for an exam that they had an extra six months over the January entrants to prepare for and so legitimately got higher marks and should have therefore passed?

smugmumofboys Thu 23-Aug-12 19:06:29

I'm an MFL teacher and am down on the A*s I was expecting. I'm a bit gutted but my students assured me they were happy with their As.

According to colleagues, alot of subjects were down on their expected/predicted A*s too. It seems so unfair on the students who worked just as hard as last year's cohort.

I had a chat with a lad this morning who has completely turned himself around since year 9. He's FSM, EAL and his family circumstances are awful (a parent in prison) and he has had some tough choices to make. He came good this year and worked his socks off (stayed most nights after school to catch up) and appled to do A levels. He needed 5 A-Cs incl maths and English.

He got C for the others but a D in English. His mock and predicted grade were both C.
I'm gutted for him. All I could say to him was to ring the college and see what they say sad.

ravenAK Thu 23-Aug-12 19:21:10

I can vouch for eleven of the fifty students I've taught this year coming out with Ds, whereas had their controlled assessments been scored as per January boundaries, they'd have Cs.

Another five, I think, have gone from B to C.

They've been nobbled, pure & simple, to further Gove's nasty little agenda. angry sad

noblegiraffe Thu 23-Aug-12 19:28:51

Gove says it's nothing to do with him.

What a load of bollocks. He's been banging on about results needing to fall for ages.

What really pisses me off is that he makes a point of saying that the new English GCSE was introduced by Labour, trying to pass the blame onto them, and that he had no idea that OfQual and the exam boards were planning to fiddle the grade boundaries to make kids who would have passed in January fail in June. I don't believe a word of it.

FunnyLittleFrog Thu 23-Aug-12 19:53:20

Raven - our head thinks we need to question whether it's even legal for the board to change boundaries for controlled assessments from Jan to June. Same student, same work, same mark, different grade? That's just wrong.

DS got A* for one Eng Lang paper and D for another, (and A and B for his controlled assessments) - so was awarded an overall grade B. He got overall A* in Eng Lit and As in History and Geography. It doesn't make sense - he has never ever failed an English exam in his entire life before sad Should he re-sit or should we ask for a remark?

Re-mark blush

Olympicnmix Thu 23-Aug-12 20:47:47

There's certainly a 'realignment' with the results this year which was heralded after the exam board debacle and scrambling to be the govt's exam board of choice.

We have a very steady cohort intake, teachers the same. Whilst our A* for my subject has increased a bit, the number of As is significantly down, far more many Bs than we normally get. It's about what we expected, as to drop them any lower would lead to mass protest and remarking en masse from schools. And call me cynical, but not one of the B or A grades is near the cusp of an A or A* where you might contemplate a remark.

We're skipping off to iGCSEs though.

FannyFifer Thu 23-Aug-12 20:48:54

It's all a conspiracy.

Olympicnmix Thu 23-Aug-12 20:51:57

Lapsed, I be tempted to call for his paper and get his English teacher/HoD to look at him with him. You might have to pay for a resit though, before getting the paper - daft system.

FunnyLittleFrog Thu 23-Aug-12 20:58:07

Olympicandmix I noticed that too! Usually a fair few at borderlines and this year very few.

LittleFrieda Thu 23-Aug-12 23:13:37

Does anyone here know how to discover the Cambridge IGCSE grade boundaries? I can't find them on their website.

captainhastings Fri 24-Aug-12 09:24:39

lapsed at A2 one of my straight A* students was given a low d grade for one of her units for English. This bought her grade down to a B and almost cost him an Oxbridge place.

It is happening all over the place and causing chaos both at GCSE and A Level.

outtolunchagain Sat 25-Aug-12 11:33:53

Captainhastings can I ask which board that was ,my ds has one rogue English paper which definitely cost him an A*. He met his offer but it is niggling , the marks over all for that paper are odd and the school and quite a few are having remarks

bestemor Sat 25-Aug-12 21:17:04

My first thought about this was that people aren't turning to Academies and Free Schools fast enough to suit this government, which is determined to take education away from local democracy. So you raise the bar, more kids get low grades, you put in "special measures" and force the school to become an Academy!

Job done!

Mrbojangles1 Sun 26-Aug-12 11:04:45

To me as a arent i am glad they are making the exams "harder" i am sick of hearing that a* students are having to have top up classes at uni or collage because they are not being taught what the should know at gcse or a level

Also for me its not about this being fair to one set of students or nother the question
Sould be WHY the hell are people siting exams on diffrent days at diffrent times a year my view all children should sit the said exam on the same day at the same time in the whole of the uk

And personally i dont care if i get flamed for this is you are in favour of your child doing a easy exam you are a bad parent and a bad taecher

Why the hell would any one want their child to get a mark they cleary dont deserve
Ifa student gets a a* at gcse level in maths say they should need a remdeial class in maths before they start a level if they do then the question is then should that said student haven gottan an a

Mrbojangles1 Sun 26-Aug-12 11:07:59

I very much doubut that the exams have been made to hard more like all along they were to easy

Uni should be reserved for the eleite and the best and the brigtest

I find it actaully quite shocking that with the grades i gained at school i would of been able to go to unishock

And also that E and garde are consired a pass at gcse thats how bad pur education has got

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 26-Aug-12 21:07:20

Is it right that with two pupils living in the same street, one could have a C in English GCSE having scored 10% less than a child who took the exam in the June of the SAME academic year doing the same Controlled assessments and speaking and listening tasks?The report published by AQA after the January series makes no comment that the CA and S and L were too easy so why did pupils taking the same tasks in June get penalised significantly. The govt/exam board deal with statistics I deal with devastated children I have grown to care for over the past 5 years, plus they picked on the C/D borderline on the Foundation paper, the most vulnerable. Sickening.

manicinsomniac Mon 27-Aug-12 16:23:01

They shouldn't have changed the goalposts for children in the same academic year.

But, other than that, I think that exam boundaries DID need to fall. The mark required to get a C in some subjects on some papers is ludicrously low and marks can't keep on going up and up every year. Do that and a C becomes a bad thing not an achievement and an A* becomes the norm. Crazy.

FunnyLittleFrog Mon 27-Aug-12 16:30:28

Ilovegeorge Yes. I have two students with the same raw score and they have different final grades. One did the exam in January and one in June.

My students who had a C in January (and worked damn hard for it) and a D now are free school meal students, SEN students, looked after children, EAL... the most vulnerable.

FunnyLittleFrog Mon 27-Aug-12 16:31:42

That's the final raw score - made up of all three units. It's just ridiculous.

eatyourveg Mon 27-Aug-12 17:16:12

Can someone put me straight - is it solely AQA GCSE English or is the A2 affected too as captainhastings indicated.

LavenderOil Mon 27-Aug-12 17:21:37

I think the AS AQA lit/lang has been a disaster this year at DD school. The highest grade awarded to the whole class was D. Several E and alot of U handed out.

sashh Thu 30-Aug-12 09:41:22

what manicinsomniac said.

In terms of grades, it is unfair, but long term it has been unfair for a long time that students have passed GCSE English but don't know how to use an apostrophe or when to use a capital letter.

I'm not trained to teach English but have had to tech some really basic things to 16/17 year olds with GCSE English.

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