Just got back from DCs year 11 parents' evening and i felt a slight air of panic amongst the teachers .....

(114 Posts)
iclaudius Wed 27-Mar-13 20:59:06

They seemed all at sea about grade boundaries .... imparted some shocking statistics about the number of A* for example being awared this year as opposed to last year at the same modules.

A few of them alluded to 'Is this Gove? Who knows?'

Generally left us with the impression that August this year will be very different to the last few years. We are not OVERLY concerned by this as we do agree that the system needs to change BUT its worrying when it is your own child who is THIS year group.

Anyone experienced similar news at theor childs school??

webwiz Wed 27-Mar-13 21:05:37

When we had DS's parents evening the English department were a bit reluctant to make firm predictions after last years fiasco but the other departments seemed quite happy.

We did have presentation about revision techniques last week and I was so stressed by the end of it that I felt I ought to go home and start revising, DS however was unmoved hmm

AryaUnderfoot Wed 27-Mar-13 21:34:40

As a (soon to be ex) science teacher, I think this year's grades are going to be significantly lower than last year's.

A report was issued by Ofqual in about 2008-ish stating that GCSE exams in science were far too easy (note that this pre-dates Gove significantly). Hence new GCSE specifications were written with first teaching in 2011.

Basically, the 2006 specification revisions made passing GCSE science with a high grade far easier than before (our department went from 85% A*-C to 97% A*-C over night). The new specification is much more challenging, and our Core science results indicate that results are likely to be more in line with the pre-2006 ones.

I don't think this applies to other subjects, however.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 27-Mar-13 21:41:19

We have no idea what the grade boundaries will be. Also a Science teacher, and thus taking our first year 11s through the new specification. Massive shift in raw score to UMS conversion in some January papers compared with June papers last year, which makes us a bit nervous.

The English fiasco in 2012 at least made it clear that all notion of criterion referenced grading is out of the window, and norm referenced is back in.

Roisin Wed 27-Mar-13 21:43:46

The proportion of A* and A grades has grown rapidly over the last 10 years or so.

I think most Boards and many subjects have issued guidelines of their intention to reverse this trend this year; in fact modules taken by students for 2013 cash-in have already had these stricter grade boundaries applied. I know it is certainly happening in Science.

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 21:47:01

IME the examining boards change boundaries all the time. In any subject where there is more than just right or wrong answers, it can be pot luck what grade a student comes out with. They will always be able to justify themselves by converting raw marks to UMS grades.

bigTillyMint Wed 27-Mar-13 21:49:50

This is so crap.

In a few years time, employers, etc won't remember that the GCSE's started being marked more harshly this year angry

iclaudius Wed 27-Mar-13 21:55:02

bigtillymint - yes that is exactly what one teachers said

iclaudius Wed 27-Mar-13 21:56:14

whoops posted too soon

THIS year it will be ok as ALL the grades will be lower but what about ten years from now and an employer comparing two young adults a couple of years apart...very unfair seeming

AryaUnderfoot Wed 27-Mar-13 22:05:35

Absolutely. And while Gove will be really smug that he has, singlehandedly, brought some rigour back into education, Wilshaw and his friends will still be commenting on the 'coasting' teachers who are not achieving the same levels of progress for their students as they were last year.

No one can win. Students, patients, pensioners etc always end up falling victim to career politicians who love to smile in front of the cameras and celebrate the fact that they've made life better for everyone.

This is why I'm leaving the profession. I loved my job for 10 years, and was bloody good at it. Now I don't.

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 22:07:23

(*Arya*, have you got another job? curious, as I'm hoping for a way out ...)

ravenAK Wed 27-Mar-13 22:11:40

We (English Dept.) are converting raw scores to UMS very cautiously - ie. based initially on last June's 'fiasco' boundaries & assuming a Doomsday scenario, with a further twist of the knife & boundaries rising by another 10%.

We're telling students (& parents) that we don't feel we can confidently predict a grade is safe unless they're 10 UMS marks over the boundary based on the 'fiasco' conversion sad.

Much gaming of the system is in progress, with students off timetable to re-do Controlled Assessment with as much help as we dare (which is rather less than the HT is trying to bully us into, frankly).

If we're wrong & the boundaries don't get hiked again, the unprecedented level of hothousing & re-doing which is going on means we'll break all records. Better for the school, I suppose, at least in the short term, but not sustainable or better for the kids.

We want the results to be fair & accurate; neither nobbled like last year nor artificially inflated by excessive intervention.

If any of my dc were in KS4 at the moment, I think I'd be tearing my hair out entirely...it is indeed crap. angry.

iclaudius Wed 27-Mar-13 22:19:13

I actually feel relief reading this as when I've muttered to my parent friends about it they gave all said 'noooo'

Secondly I was worried it was just specific areas and exam boards and I almost need to hear that it's more widespread

Why had I not heard about this in the press??

AryaUnderfoot Wed 27-Mar-13 22:21:19

Rowlers I don't have another job. But, seeing as my childcare bills are currently almost as high as my wage, I'm not exactly in it for the money.

I used to say that I did the job because I enjoyed it and wanted to keep my CV intact. As for the former, that simply isn't the case and as for the latter, I simply don't give a shit any more. I have had enough of flogging myself and neglecting my children for a job that I no longer gain any pleasure from.

It's a shite state of affairs (to quote a favourite film). Underfunding, excessive scrutiny and a Secretary of State who has firmly pitched himself against the profession has led to this. I was once a firm tory voter who would rather have cut of a limb than go on strike. For me to get to the position where I would gladly stand on the picket lines must come as a warning as to how bad the situation is. I am not a 'leftie' by any stretch of the imagination.

I would rather serve pints in the local on a Saturday night than spend another year doing this job.

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 22:34:36

Arya, have been teaching almost 20 years. Have never felt so sad, angry, despondant about the job. I hate it at the moment, and it's not the students. I agree with you completely (apart from the tory bit) grin

iclaudius Wed 27-Mar-13 22:47:17

oh my word ...

i must say what i felt from ds's ( lovely) teachers tonight is truly echoed on here.

The despondancy and uncertainty was palpable...

Very sad Arya and Rowlers

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 22:53:13

I really feel that fab teachers are leaving as the whole system is arse over tit in this constant battle to "improve standards".
Anyway, best of luck to your DCs, OP! Let's hope their hard work is rewarded.

creamteas Thu 28-Mar-13 08:51:39

The political interference in marking and the constant denigrating of teachers is terrible. But I don't think worrying about the A* students is the real issue.

In the vast majority of cases, the exact pass grades you got in your GCSEs is pretty much irrelevant once you have achieved higher qualifications or been in work for a while. If the results are lower in August across the board, then sixth-forms, colleges, apprenticeship providers etc will relax their criteria (it happened last year with the English fiasco). So if the As become Bs, it won't be a problem.

The people who will really suffer are those who will get Ds instead of Cs.

ll31 Thu 28-Mar-13 08:58:15

Agree with creamteas, results are not relevant 5,10 yrs down the line, just this yr- and most serious for those who may fail, get d s etc

iclaudius Thu 28-Mar-13 10:54:19

I totally agree cream teas that the c/d boundary is the crucial one but the problem will affect the more able students too

Medical schools and some top courses won't look at students without a majority of A* grades and particularly in the sciences - these kids will feel the impact

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 28-Mar-13 11:32:48

cream That may be true for some, even most, people, but it won't be true for all. There are careers and professions where even after your degree they do still look at your GCSE and A levels results when making entry level recruitment decisions. This is where it will bite, because the people applying will not all have done their GCSEs in the same year. Further down the line, the important factor is experience and performance. Earlier on, the kids will most likely (but it's not guaranteed) be competing with other kids from the same cohort, so it will matter less. But at the stage where they are looking to get into the world of work, it could well be an issue. sad Luckily for DD1 I don't think she is even slightly likely to want to pursue the sort of career where this will be an issue. But it;s still worrying for her (and me). It seems so arbitrary and unfair.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 28-Mar-13 11:36:32

I'm worried even without the grade boundaries changing! Dd has been generally predicted A/A* for Physics - then she got Bs in the January exams, and wasn't put in for a resit - which would be fine, but the teacher said 'as you got Bs in both, we've just changed your predicted grade to B' confused.

That's not how predicting things works, surely?

notnowImreading Thu 28-Mar-13 11:43:39

The one I'm particularly worried about is English Literature. The situation with the marking looks on course to be exactly the same as last year's marking for English Language - loads of results from the January exam far exceeding expectations. As these were published with fixed grades and UMS marks, it may well mean that boundaries for the controlled assessments and summer exams will be raised significantly to compensate - and schools like mine where we are sitting both exams in the summer season will suffer accordingly.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Thu 28-Mar-13 11:44:17

When we chose options in Y9 for DD, her grades were enough that she would pull the 3 'C' grades she needed to get into a college.

Now she has NO 'C's predicted, in Y10. Those 'C's are now 'D's.

Which will mean no college for her. No job, as even shelf stackers & retail staff here are expected to have C in Maths and English, and she'll be up against thousands that do. Too able for life skills courses at college.

And as the current Y10 are the first year that HAVE to stay on till 18 - no JSA for her either. And my Child Benefit and CTC will stop too.

So I will have to feed her on fresh air, just because some smug bastard politician decided to fuck around with the grade boundaries. I've been told that DD would have been an east C in those three subjects, now she's an easy D.

I don't give a crap that less pupils will get an A* - the difference between an A and an A star isn't going to leve them with no money for food for two years, is it?!

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 28-Mar-13 11:48:08

cream That may be true for some, even most, people, but it won't be true for all. There are careers and professions where even after your degree they do still look at your GCSE and A levels results when making entry level recruitment decisions. This is where it will bite, because the people applying will not all have done their GCSEs in the same year. Further down the line, the important factor is experience and performance. Earlier on, the kids will most likely (but it's not guaranteed) be competing with other kids from the same cohort, so it will matter less. But at the stage where they are looking to get into the world of work, it could well be an issue. sad Luckily for DD1 I don't think she is even slightly likely to want to pursue the sort of career where this will be an issue. But it;s still worrying for her (and me). It seems so arbitrary and unfair.

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