Plans to make it harder to get the top grades in new core GCSEs

(22 Posts)
noblegiraffe Fri 22-Apr-16 22:15:19

Ofqual have just published a consultation (Friday night, thanks), on changing the formula for awarding grade 9s in the new GCSEs.

The new formula would change from top 20% of 7s to get a 9 to top 7% of grade 7s plus 0.5*percentage of candidates who get a 7 to get a 9.

This would reduce the percentage of students getting a 9 in maths from 4.2 to 3.7, English from 4.5 to 4.2 and English lit from 4.7 to 4.5. This would also make it harder to get an 8 as the boundary for an 8 will be set halfway between a 7 and a 9.

Closing date for responses is 17th June.

Good luck predicting grades for Y10 when they can change things halfway through the course.

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/518680/Setting_grade_standards_part_2.pdf

Hebegebes Sat 23-Apr-16 13:10:12

Thanks for the link, Noblegiraffe.
I can't work out whether the proposed change re grade 9s is supposed to apply to the current year10 and their English and Maths GCSEs next summer, or whether the whole document is about exams taken in 2018 onwards. Do you know?

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 13:16:40

Yep, it would be for current Y10 taking maths and English, and then the first run of the other subjects the year after.

2nd and subsequent cohorts of each subject will be graded by looking at how the first cohort did, and using national reference tests, this formula will only apply to the first cohort through each exam.

Hebegebes Sat 23-Apr-16 13:23:21

Oh dear.
I worry that with the mark only being available to less than 4% of the student population, state schools will find it hard to justify spending lesson time on getting their students up to this level, and it will be the preserve of the 7% of kids at private schools.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 13:35:20

We've no idea what level that is. The grade boundary for a 9 could be set at 70%, 80%, 90%, who knows.

tiggytape Sat 23-Apr-16 13:36:36

A poster here said the other day that her school had been told by examiners that only selective schools should be predicting grade 9's (the maths teacher had disagreed and was sure at least 2 students would reach that level).

It is all very well introducing a top grade that differentiates those barely scraping an A* from those at the top of the A* bracket, but the original idea was to separate out grading of all high ability students to make it more meaningful.
These changes seem designed to just showcase the very top 3% of students whilst everyone else will still be somewhat lumped together (especially since the grade 8 boundary will also be higher now).

In addition, some children may not even be given the chance to try for a grade 9 if the standard is so unobtainable for schools facing pressures at the other end of the scale trying to get most children to a grade 5 and a good pass.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 13:41:21

Talking of selective schools, the proposed changes from the 20% model mean that the % of students getting a 9 in Classical Greek will increase from 16.7% to 40.9% and in Latin from 14.3% to 30.5%.

I'm not sure how that will allow universities to distinguish between truly excellent candidates, given that's what it's supposed to be about.

Obs2016 Sat 23-Apr-16 14:00:43

Oh dear.

titchy Sat 23-Apr-16 14:29:44

Damn. Should have insisted ds did Latin.

hayita Sat 23-Apr-16 16:07:53

I'm not sure how that will allow universities to distinguish between truly excellent candidates, given that's what it's supposed to be about.

But of course in reality it has never been about this. Distinguishing at the top end between candidates on GCSE level material at the age of 16 isn't particularly useful: what universities really need to know is how they are doing on higher level material.

I find it hard to believe that even the top university courses will use 8s versus 9s that much in selection, as opposed to using a combination of aptitude tests, interviews and predicted grades at A level with GCSE performance.

I suspect however that applicants for the very top maths/physics courses will have 9s in maths (whatever school they came from). But for other subjects 8s versus 9s would probably not make too much difference... although it's hard to tell before seeing a few years of results.

lljkk Sat 23-Apr-16 16:10:14

Below link says Greek & Latin, already have high A* rates (>30%).

If recently 6% got A*, then 3.7 or 4.2%... what difference is that really? I don't think schools will be that much less interested in 3.7% than they were in 6.1% (A* in math used to be only 3.2% 13 years ago). But how staff are supposed to predict: that sounds like big headache.

Neverthless, Yr9 DD got a predicted a specific high final grade for math the other day. She is preening though I try to tell her about unhatched chickens...

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 16:19:26

Greek and Latin on the bstubbs site only go up to 2003 for some reason, so I think the A* rates are even higher now - the Ofqual consultation says 62.4% A* for Green and 44.2% for Latin.

The consultation is essentially saying that they want more students in the subjects that are only taken by bright students to get 9s, so private schools don't avoid them as it's 'easier' to get 9s in other subjects.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 16:21:18

3.7 or 4.2%... what difference is that really?

Nearly 4000 fewer kids getting a 9 in maths, by my calculation.

lljkk Sat 23-Apr-16 16:30:35

Do you think it would put you or your school off pushing them to learn 9 material, if it's only 3.7%? In 2003 only 3.2% students got A* but I presume the appropriate material was still taught.

Greek-Latin high % sounds weird, indeed.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 16:32:21

There isn't such thing as '9' material.

lljkk Sat 23-Apr-16 16:41:56

I kind of didn't think so, but not sure what tiggytape meant otherwise about schools not even trying to get their kids to 9.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 16:49:01

That would be about trying to compete with well-funded and well-resourced schools who can dedicate their time and effort to getting already bright kids ever closer to 100% on a maths exam, when your own school can't even afford GCSE textbooks, and has to worry about getting a certain percentage of kids to pass or the school will be put in special measures.

tiggytape Sat 23-Apr-16 16:57:34

There has always been pressure on mixed ability schools to get borderline students over the D/C threshold. That pressure will intensify when a good pass is redefined a grade 5 and when a grade 5 becomes equivalent to a high C grade (and not only that but with harder exams and more course content).

I don't think schools will ignore the highest ability students but with such a narrow grade 9 boundary, they too will need additional focus if they are to cross the borderline from a grade 7 or 8 to a grade 9. When deciding where to target most help, schools (I think) will be under more pressure to work hard to convert grade 4's into 5's than grade 8's into 9's.

Needmoresleep Sat 23-Apr-16 16:58:35

Isn't the Latin/Greek thing because students who study these subjects tend to be self selecting. My understanding is that at one point, when grade boundaries were based on the same percentages as other GCSEs, Greek almost disappeared entirely. Essentially few students chose Greek unless they were firm A/A* candidates and indeed strong A/A* candidates across the board. The idea that the majority would then get a B or below proved a real disincentive. It was only when the grade boundaries were changed that schools started to reintroduce the subject.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 17:10:30

The percentage of students getting a 7 or above in Greek would remain unchanged from now.

But it seems to be unfair to penalise 4000 maths students in order to hand more 8s and 9s to students who take Greek.

hayita Sat 23-Apr-16 17:26:08

But it seems to be unfair to penalise 4000 maths students in order to hand more 8s and 9s to students who take Greek.

But surely this is not a big deal in the big scheme of things: students are judged against their own cohort in the context of university admissions. Not having an 8 or 9 in maths is unlikely to make very much difference to those 4000 students. If there is a big difference in 7-9 grades between different types of schools then entrance grades for university will be adjusted accordingly.

BTW the fact that we have been using the same grade system for years but we have completely changed the meanings of those grades is very unfair to those who did exams 15-30 years ago. Of course years ago students were again judged relative to their cohort in applying for university etc but for those who didn't go on to university their GCSE and A level qualifications have been devalued over the years. A D in GCSE maths from 1988 is not comparable to a D in maths GSCE from 2015, neither is an A at A level from 1985 and an A at a level in 2015, but the grading system implies it is.

urbanfox1337 Sat 23-Apr-16 18:12:28

I know this is happening to Maths and English, but when is it being applied to all the other subjects? Will this be the same at A level?

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