Summer Science GCSE grades 'down'

(57 Posts)
creamteas Sat 13-Jul-13 10:08:03

It has been announced that the science grades will be slightly lower than in previous years here.

Whilst it is not uncommon for this to happen in the first year of a new curriculum, the cynical part of me thinks that this is just lowering expectations so that the politically motivated large grade deflation will not cause as many headlines in the summer sad

glaurung Fri 19-Jul-13 12:02:46

Igcse should't be affected. Last year all gcse subjects had a new system of grade balancing applied to them (equivalent outcomes) and were all marked lower than they would have been under the old system. This meant that approx the same number of dc achieved the grades achieved by dc siting the exams 2 years previously, rather than having grades a little better than the previous years. english was an anomoly due to the new syllabus and the exam boards inability to guage accurately the final grade distribution when the early modules were sat. Overall this meant the numbers achieving each grade were in line with other subjects, but most of those with better grades had sat early modules. Science this year is also a new syllabus which was introduced in response to a study thday showed the old syllabus lacked sufficient demand. It was always mean't to be tougher and have fewer dc scoring high grades on it - this isn't news, and the exam boards were outrageously tough marking the very first modules, and then seemingly eased off a little, but hopefully having learned from the english mess up won't make the same mistake quite as badly again. The other subjects this year are supposed to be being levelled according to the same principles as were used last year, and my guess is that this will result in grades a little lower, but not much lower than last years. This is just my guess, only results day will tell.

basildonbond Tue 16-Jul-13 08:19:57

anyone know if IGCSEs are affected as well?

Arcticspill Mon 15-Jul-13 19:29:19

Yes there was general deflation in other subjects last year but English hit the headlines as all children take it. It is difficult to bring it to public notice. As Copthall said, there was inconsistency between different awarding bodies' approach and response to appeals, which damaged some individuals' results more than others.

I hope your children all do well and are not disappointed after their hard work.

creamteas Mon 15-Jul-13 19:00:20

Whilst English GCSE hit the headlines last year because of the sheer number of DC taking it and the extent of goalpost moving, there was grade deflation more generally in many subjects. I know more about A levels than GCSEs as I saw the gulf between predicted grades and actual grades in terms of university admissions.

This summer, from what we know so far, is likely to be worse. All of the DC due to finish exams this year will suffer (and those that have done modules have already been effected) but clearly extent of the impact of individuals will vary depending on the range of subjects taken.

If I was Ofqual, I would be wary of doing much to English, as the media will be looking out for it, but we shall have to wait and see.

circular Mon 15-Jul-13 18:10:08

Russians I certainly never meant to offend, or to underestimate your daughters situation at the time of taking the exams.

I do think last summer English (possibly science too) and this spring maths sitting ARE relevant, as they were hit by grade boundary changes too. So those DCs that sat some then as well as May/June this year will be hit both ways. The module vs linear will always be a contentious issue though.
Making science linear may not change much, as I suspect many schools will just do Core Science early rather than a bit of each.

Wasn't it just the English papers re-graded fir the Welsh board for Wales? DDs school had any within a few marks off a grade boundary re-marked, some went up but not all.

littlemisswise Mon 15-Jul-13 16:01:35

Maybe it should be that the DC who meet the required percentage for A*, A etc should get that grade, regardless of however many other children get it.

DS2 knows, and is very, very angry. He was at work this morning with another DC who told him about it. sad

RedHelenB Mon 15-Jul-13 15:41:58

Maybe it should just go back to top 10% a* , next 10% a etc like it was with O'levels & A' levels!

Syrupent Mon 15-Jul-13 14:26:50

I can see it now- Gove: "Great news everyone, I've driven up standards- more kids are failing!"

littlemisswise Mon 15-Jul-13 13:07:06

I am going to try to keep this away from DS2. He worked his socks off for his GCSE's and wants to do science A levels. I feel really sorry for him knowing this, not least because DS1 did his GCSEs 2 years ago and got all A*/As and DS2 would have got the same had he have done them then.

It isn't right for them to be being used as pawns in a political game. The grades on their certificates are going to be there for life. That is a big injustice IMO.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 12:36:07

Copthall that is not how you came across. I didn't find your post either reassuring or sympathetic. And you said in two separate posts that last year was more unfair. Well, maybe last year was more unfair (although I don't agree that it was). But that;s not something I need to hear right now, actually. I don't need to be asked to sympathise with last year's cohort at all, in a thread about this year's cohort. Especially since I did sympathise with last year's cohort, last year.

Copthallresident Mon 15-Jul-13 12:17:32

Russians I came on to this thread to reassure people that colleges relaxed their grades last year for those wanting to study the affected subjects and that schools and unis know exactly what is going on, because it is now a trend, and to sympathise and empathise. I also wish that as parents of an affected cohort last year we had known and been able to prepare our DDs. It was tragic to see so many DDs coming out of the school last year with tears pouring down their faces and to spend the next 24 hours not realising they were pawns and not failures, and I wanted to advise parents to be prepared for that. I'm sorry I didn't realise you want this to be an exclusive club and that such advice was not welcome. I won't darken your door again confused

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 12:04:02

copthall Perhaps all the people who had their grades changed are imaginary then? I think not. smile However, I do agree with you that the inconsistency of what happened to the English last year is dreadfully unfair to last year's cohort - not least because there will be people who didn't do particularly well in English who were never going to do particularly well and will now possibly be able to pass it off as a result of the debacle. The reason I think this year will be even worse though is that it won't just be one subject, I think it will be across the board. If it does just turn out to be science then that;s not so bad - or at least,obviously it's potentially 3 trashed subjects rather than one but it's more comparable to last year than 12 trashed subjects would be. But the real injustice is that the cohort are not all being subjected to the same lunacy.

But to be honest - this is a thread about this year's GCSE results. Most of the people attracted to this thread are parents of this year's GCSE takers. I don't remember going on last year's GCSE threads after the English debacle and saying 'my kids are more unlucky than yours'. I do remember offering sympathy. I think it's a bit hmm for parents who are not directly affected coming to this thread and telling those of us who are directly affected that we shouldn't complain. If you want to start a thread about all the injustices affecting your DD's cohort then please do. But please don't be coming into this year;s GCSE threads and making it all about your DD's cohort instead. It;s not.

Copthallresident Mon 15-Jul-13 11:52:52

Russians not one of my DDs peers had their English Lit or Language grades changed, not one. And you are right, different boards reacted to different extents and so schools were affected inconsistently, which together with the Ofqual whitewash made it even less fair surely?

However as a general rule of thumb my DD2s peers did about 10 % less well than DD1s, even those at the same very selective school. DDs school have been very open with their pupils, that it is hard to know where the goalposts will be at GCSE and A level. It was also less well reported last year that there was wholesale grade deflation at A level too and universities widely relaxed their required grades.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 11:29:01

I do think that some schools should probably take a long hard look at themselves though. There is acting in the best interests of the pupils, and acting in self interest with an eye to the league tables and I do not think that all schools were staying on the right side of the line in recent years.

Oh no sad I hope DD1 doesn't hear about it, she is worried about them as it is.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 11:27:30

Dontlike That's a very good analogy. I tend to think of my darling fragile DD1, who has had such a hard time of it, and never ever gives in or succumbs to self pity, as a pawn. Gove is the real game player, and our kids are just pawns.

Dontlikepink Mon 15-Jul-13 11:25:39

What I find disturbing is framing the debate as bashing the schools by the government, like the post from Counting, and totally leaving out any consideration for the young people and their future. They are like hostages.

I am fine with higher standards from the onset of the GCSE cycle. If you change the rules and the syllabus, you need to let the schools and the youngsters to work their way through the 2 year cycle before applying any new change.

Moving the goalpost for political reasons is failing the pupils. It's not their fault and they can't do anything about it.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 11:14:23

copthall I don't think it's just going to be science and maths. Nor do several of my teacher friends. And the English thing wasn't across the board, since many schools returned better than anticipated English results. And many results were overturned on appeal, as you know. That won't be happening this year - this year they are pre-announcing because they won't be revising the grades upwards when people make a fuss.

Copthallresident Mon 15-Jul-13 11:04:32

Russians This isn't year zero on messing with GCSE boundaries, last year was year zero. There was a great deal of coverage of the problems at the c/d boundary in English Language but there were problems at all the boundaries and not just in English Language. www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9512114/Private-schools-examiners-moved-goalposts-on-GCSEs.html and it affected all schools state and indie. SPGS actually made every girl who missed their A* retake.

It's just that this year it is the turn of Science and Maths.

Counting Clouds starting last year our 16 year olds and their teachers are left with no idea where the goalposts are, outside all schools in this area, state and indie, there were 16 year olds heartbroken and in tears because they thought they had done the hard work needed to get the grades they were predicted but failed, when in fact they were the victims of politicking, and pretty incompetent politicking at that. My daughter's peers are going to submit UCAS applications this year that highlight that they sat their GCSEs in the year they ceased to have consistent value, as * cream teas* highlights the unis know that already. I would have had no problem with a proper plan to address grade inflation and the other issues with GCSEs that was understood by pupils and teachers, but this mess is damaging our young people's confidence and chances and it is disgraceful.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 10:27:59

Countingclouds - gaming the system is not cheating. Where multiple resits are allowed, that is not cheating. Some schools have not behaved responsibly towards the system - but they have behaved responsibly towards their own pupils and you can't fault that. If you want to change things, you have to change the rules. And I don't mind that either. What I DO mind is that the rules are changed for some, this summer, and not for others. The rules are changed totally for kids like my DD1 who attend schools that were, basically, behaving in the way Gove and apparently much of the non-current-GCSE-parent electorate would like. They are changed only partially for kids who had the benefit of taking modules at two points last year and at one point earlier this year. That cannot be right or fair. They should have introduced the new approach at the same time as enforcing linear exams so that there were no disproportionately disadvantaged groups.

I don't have a problem with making exams more difficult in terms of syllabus or content, or more difficult to get great grades on, or both. I might support the reintroduction of norm referencing (perhaps combined with qualification thresholds for the key grades and an absolute passmark for the generally accepted pass grade, so that to get a C you had to get X marks, full stop, but to get a B, an A or an A* you had to (a) be in the top whatever % PLUS get at least x marks or more). BUT only at the beginning of a 2 year GCSE cycle, with terminal exams, and where everyone taking those exams knew exactly what the groundrules were and where the goalposts were set at the outset of that two year cycle. To shift things constantly mid cycle as Gove is doing is grossly inequitable.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 15-Jul-13 10:13:45

How are grade boundaries 'schools cheating'? confused. Schools don't set the grade boundaries.

CountingClouds Mon 15-Jul-13 10:12:26

When you cut out the abuse of the system you would expect results to go down, as schools are no longer able to cheat. When schools are forced to actually teach to a higher standard rather than gaming the system, the results will go back up and children's grades will actually be worth the paper they are written on.

Does anyone remember parents complaining when schools started this cheating?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 15-Jul-13 09:45:55

You're probably all too right sad

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 09:41:55

Nit Im guessing it's all the subjects. After all, look at the info that subsequently came out about maths. They are deep feeding the information for one of two reasons - (1) so that there isn't rioting in August when the results come back and so many people are so devastated/outraged (2) So that a significant number of people are pleasantly surprised in August, because their expectations have been successfully managed to a lower than necessary point. I suspect (1) is more likely though. sad

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 15-Jul-13 09:35:20

As crestfallen dd commented after 'oh not science, oh no, oh that's so unfair, why did it have to be science of all the subjects', 'how is making everyone do worse going to help in the 'international league tables anyway'?'

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