I've just been talking to the Head of English at ds's school about the new Govelvels

(123 Posts)
Hakluyt Thu 17-Jul-14 12:58:34

... And she says she reckons that to be on target for a 9 (the top mark) a year 8 would have to be finishing the year.on an 8c. She reckons that a child like mine, who has finished year 8 on a 6a and would have been on target for an A- possibly A*- will now be predicted a 7-possibly just an 8.

It will be very interesting to see how the press cover this when the time comes. And how parents used to their kids getting top marks deal with it!

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Jul-14 13:09:14

Only half of those getting an A* would be expected to get a 9, I think.

It's because too many were getting A*s and top universities couldn't possibly differentiate between them all.

tiggytape Thu 17-Jul-14 16:49:59

I have a DS in Year 8 and it is a worrying prospect that he is the first year group taking these new 'tougher' exams in some subjects (just as I am sure the first ones not to be able to do retakes at AS level etc find it hard). On the flip side, terminal exams will suit him much better than coursework.

I also have friends with children in Year 9 though who feel their child's grades will be devalued overnight since "everyone knows" an A* is so easy to get that it's barely worth having and that's why the system is changing. They are worried that any A or A* grades their children get won't be seen as quite as good as an 8 or a 9 achieved by children taking exams that "everyone knows" are harder.

SarcyMare Thu 17-Jul-14 16:52:37

tiggy, your friend is correct

SarcyMare Thu 17-Jul-14 17:00:50

sorry post halfway
the value of a grade that 25% of the students get is pretty devalued all by itself.

tiggytape Thu 17-Jul-14 17:07:59

I hope not. I hope the brightest children in my DS's year won't be too disheartened by getting grades 1 or 2 below the 'best' grade and that the current Year 9's aren't made to feel that their 'old' qualification count for less.

In a practical sense, most schools and colleges will adapt I am sure. They only expect such high grades in some subjects because it has become the norm for so many pupils to get those very high grades. I suppose things will revert back to a time when very few students get the top grade and therefore very few institutions expect this across the board.

At the moment for example some 6th forms ask that a pupil achieves a minimum A grade in GCSE maths to study it at A Level. This is because about 3 times as many pupils get an A* now than they did when the grades were introduced and many more get grade A too. These schools aren’t suddenly going to limit A Level courses to grade 9 pupils only if those pupils only make up the top 2% of all pupils. They will still want the top 10% or whatever however that is expressed even if these pupils now officially only get the 3rd best grade instead of the 2nd best one.

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Jul-14 17:12:13

Schools don't ask for a minimum of an A at GCSE maths to artificially cap the numbers taking it, we ask for a minimum of an A at GCSE because kids who only get a B usually can't cope with A-level and fail or drop out. I say usually, because there are always exceptions.

tiggytape Thu 17-Jul-14 17:47:40

Yes noble - I explained that badly. It's nothig to do with capping numbers, it is about ensuring suitability and that will continue one would hope.
So if an A in GCSE maths represents the level of acheivement required to successfully navigate A Level maths courses, then of course that is what schools will ask for until those grades are scrapped.

If a child (who under the old system would have got an A and has the same ability, same skill set, same aptitude for maths as an old style A grade pupil) gets given a level 7, no school is going to tell them that it is tough luck and they need a level 8 or 9 minimum just for the sake of it. Schools will ask for the level required to cope with the A level which may 'only' be one of the top 3 grades as opposed to the top 2 grades.

tiggytape Thu 17-Jul-14 17:53:51

Just as people of my generation could get into really decent universities with three B's (or less) at A Level and still be considered to have achieved really good grades.

It wasn't that we were all thicker than the today's intake (well perhaps a bit!) but, if universities had only wanted with pupils who had 4 A's at A Level, each institution would have been practically empty. Very few people got those kinds of grades years ago and so it was never a requirement or expectation that they did. People got Firsts and 2:1 degrees just as they do now with much lower starting grades simply because an old style grade B isn't the same as a modern day grade B.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 17-Jul-14 19:04:17

I've got a y8 as well, so am going to be interested to see what does actually appear in the next 3 years. GCSEs are all terminal already now, so that won't be a change. But e.g. for the linear maths GCSE, you only need about 85% for an A*, 70% for an A, about 50-55% for a B, 25-30% for a C. In maths, where some kids do get 99-100%, it seems reasonable that there should be a level that reflects that. If you can get 3/4 of the questions wrong and still pass, I think that is devalued already. My dd2 did OCR Gateway separate science GCSEs this summer - you only need about 65% for an A*. That also seems a trifle ridiculous.

AuntieStella Thu 17-Jul-14 19:10:37

Well, it was different marking back then. You didn't have to reach a certain %age, you had to be in the top 10%.

TalkinPeace Thu 17-Jul-14 20:14:49

It is not possible or appropriate to compare grades when the Normal Distribution was used with those on the benchmark system.

In Chemistry A level last year, more than 50% of the candidates got A or A*

the justification being that all those kids are really bright to be taking Chemistry.

What is NOT clear about the 1-9 levels is how the boundaries will be set - political pressure and all that

tiggytape Thu 17-Jul-14 20:18:13

I am not saying they will artificially cap it at the top 5%, but if they have introduced it with the express intention of differentiating more accurately at the top, it stands to reason they will ensure fewer pupils get awarded a level 9 under the new system than a grade A* under the old system.

Which in itself doesn't matter because a level 9 won't be viewed in the same way as an A* if so few people go on to achieve one. It will become normal, acceptable and in no way limiting to get the 3rd (or even 4th) highest grade and still be able to move on with that as was once the case when more modest grades in the past were considered absolutely fine.

Shouldwego Fri 18-Jul-14 08:00:45

Wow, thanks for this. I really hadn't realised there would be so much difference. DS is yr8 and on 6a/b for most subjects, will have to get used to the idea he won't be on A grade path.

pointythings Fri 18-Jul-14 11:23:27

85% for an A* does seem ridiculously low.I grew up in the Dutch system, which has scores ranging from 1 to 10 - a 6 is a pass, everything else is a fail. It does work with decimals and for your exams, all your scores count so controlled assessments in school are half your mark (average of all these) and your central exams are the other half. (both scores added and averaged, 5.5 = a 6 so a pass.)

To get the top mark of a 10, you need 95%. I think that's reasonable. They don't grade on a curve though, it's about getting a % of the answers right. They seem to manage a reasonably normal distribution of marks though, so there's some decent exam setting going on.

LewisNaiceHamilton Fri 18-Jul-14 12:19:54

Surely grades are meant to reflect how well you've grasped a subject, not how well you've grasped it compared to your peers. confused

Will a bright student in a less bright than usual cohort be at an advantage compared to one in a very able cohort, when five years down the line they're going for the same post?

LewisNaiceHamilton Fri 18-Jul-14 12:21:45

Or have I just completely misunderstood this?

TalkinPeace Fri 18-Jul-14 13:30:38

Lewisnaice
That has NEVER been the case.
The raw percentage is how well you have done.
The grade awarded to that percentage has always gone through a moderation process.

In my day it was the normal distribution, then grade inflation took off, now its being nudged back towards the normal distribution but not fully.

Littleturkish Sat 19-Jul-14 09:42:21

www.jcq.org.uk/Download/examination-results/gcses/gcse-and-entry-level-certificate-results-summer-2013

I think it's worth looking at the actual data- PP said up thread that 25% we're getting A*s, and this seemed crazy to me. I checked, and cumulative percentages show the top 3.3% get A*s for lang and 5% for lit.

I'm not a mathematician, so if I've misunderstood this please correct me- but does this not mean that the top grades only went to the top 3% of students?

TalkinPeace Sat 19-Jul-14 13:27:43

Littleturkish
On your link
Chemistry .... 42% A/A*
English .... 15% A/A*
English Literature .... 23% A/A*
Additional Maths ..... 40% A/A*
Physics ..... 46% A/A*

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sat 19-Jul-14 13:33:53

Interesting table. What leaps out at me are the enormous gender differences in achievement %s at the top end of some subjects. I wonder if the Govelevels will water that down a bit.

TalkinPeace Sat 19-Jul-14 13:39:37

Unlikely because the bell curve of IQ is wider and flatter for boys than it is for girls

Boys will always whump girls in certain topics and vice versa due to basic human neurology.

ElephantsNeverForgive Sat 19-Jul-14 13:43:27

I didn't think Y8's were effected by these changes. I thought they came in the year after.

Sod. DD2 would get a/a* at present, she will be furious (and liable to do less work) if she can't get top grades.

noblegiraffe Sat 19-Jul-14 13:54:34

Talkin, not sure what point you are trying to make with the subjects you have selected. Of course subjects like additional maths, chemistry and physics would expect a much higher percentage of A*/As than other subjects, because they are selective. Only bright kids are allowed to take them. The only non-selective subject on your list is English.

It's like pointing out that a grammar school has a high percentage of A*/A results

noblegiraffe Sat 19-Jul-14 13:57:01

As for boys whumping girls, girls beat boys in all subjects A*-C except maths, and boys only beat girls in maths since coursework was scrapped.

Exam design counts for a lot. Now that coursework is being scrapped in most subjects, expect to see boys doing better.

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