GCSE target grades - meaning?

(26 Posts)
Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 19:10:01

Daft question, but are they like A level predicted grades (ie, what the teacher thinks you most likely will get), or are they targets as in 'let's aim for that, and with hard work and a spot of luck you never know)? (DD in yr 10, just been handed them out.)

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Oct-16 19:23:53

At this point in Y10 it will be sticking your finger in the air and trying to see which way the wind is blowing. A lot can happen in two years, but the grades will probably be what the teacher thinks is most likely based on prior attainment.

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 19:29:37

That's helpful, thanks.
I'm just a little concerned that dd's english target is high. Her teacher has a reputation for being very pushy and getting excellent results, but dd tends to fall apart in written work under stress, and since she has no intention of continuing to English A level, realistically has no need to get a very high grade.
I'll raise at parents' evening - but didn't want to bother if it was likely to be an aspirational target that most not expected to meet.

Blu Wed 12-Oct-16 19:30:03

We get a Likely Grade: what the teacher thinks is likely if the student continues on current performance and Target Grade: what the teacher thinks is possible if student follows all advice and feedback and works to full potential. The marks against homework and tests track progress towards Target.

Terrifiedandregretful Wed 12-Oct-16 19:34:08

Target grades are generally based on key stage 2 data. Eg if someone achieved a level 5 at key stage 2 they'll be targeted an A/3 at GCSE. At the moment especially they are very much a stab in the dark as nobody really knows how the 1-9 grades will work. They aren't predicted grades. I wouldn't expect to give predicted grades until year 11.

ImpYCelyn Wed 12-Oct-16 19:34:54

The target grades are a bit of a guess at the beginning of year 10, although they will be based on KS3 performance and other data the school has.

Just an FYI - the English result is one of the most important for children to get. There are some degree courses, for example, that require a specific grade in English GCSE even when the course is completely unrelated. Lots of medical schools for instance ask for an A (old money) at GCSE English. Some universities have a minimum requirement. It's like maths and science in that respect. So really worthwhile going with the pushy teacher and hitting a high grade, it keeps options open later. (I speak as a sixth form form teacher who's had to have some painful conversations with students when it comes to university applications).

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 19:42:23

Imp, the problem is that it would, for example, be better to get a solid B than to aim for an A and end up crashing and burning and not getting the C that means you can drop English post GCSEs . . .

DD has no aspirations towards medicine / vet science, and I doubt other science/maths/engineering courses are going to expect an A in English?

(We're not in England, so still on letter grades, thankfully.)

LynetteScavo Wed 12-Oct-16 19:44:05

Well, DS1s target grades were pretty much spot on (based on his KS2 SATs and our post code apparently ) His mocks were a load of nonsense.

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 19:45:57

Postcode ? confused

Terrifiedandregretful Wed 12-Oct-16 19:47:30

Just seen your update. In our school teachers don't set the target grades. They're set by our data overlords. Your teacher may well agree with you about the target grade but may not have any power to change it.

MyballsareSandy2015 Wed 12-Oct-16 19:50:22

DDs school target their results on year 6 SATs and they don't change. Crazy.

Terrifiedandregretful Wed 12-Oct-16 19:58:49

Same. Although at our school they occasionally move them up at the end of Yr10, just for shits and giggles. and to make it harder for staff to meet their performance management targets

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Oct-16 20:06:46

FFT target grades which are computer generated based on KS2 results should not be shared with individual students or parents. They are the measure of a full cohort, not of a single student.

If you're given computer generated target grades, ignore them in favour of predicted grades from a human who knows them.

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 21:04:23

I don't think these are KS2 based, because they're varied by subject. But I am now wondering (worrying) about the concept of data overlords wandering the corridors and muttering about extermination grin

Terrified I did notice in KS3 that if you were progressing faster than expected towards your target level it got moved up, but they never moved them down if you weren't doing so well . . .

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Oct-16 21:09:31

FFT targets vary by subject because they are based on what the average student with a similar profile to your DC actually got in those subjects.

They also change from year to year based on what the most recent cohort of Y11s achieved. So students who had an FFT target of a C in Y10 could well be given a target of a B in Y11 with nothing having changed regarding their work, except another cohort going through the system.

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 21:18:17

I'm going to pretend I understand that, noble

<wonders why anyone stays in teaching given not only do you have to interact with teenagers all day, you also have to deal with this stuff>

I think I will ask tactfully at parents' evening, and also encourage dd not to stress too much about them & just do her best. I do wonder how we all survived in the days of O levels, when no-one mentioned anything at all to us at any point about what grades we might expect or aim for, we just did the work, went into the exam, and hoped for the best.

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 21:19:36

Going back to an earlier point, though, anyone who knows about this stuff - is there any advantage (unless you want to be a doctor / vet / apply to Oxbridge) of getting say an A rather than a B in a GCSE subject you don't intend to continue with?

lljkk Wed 12-Oct-16 21:39:42

It must keep more options open, Sadik, don't you think, to try to have good grades. There are other paths besides going to university.

My DS stopped at GCSEs. I told him things likes "If these are the only qualifications you ever get, make them good ones."
&
"If you aim for an A/A* then you can partly screw up but still get a B, not so bad. Aiming for a B & slipping to a D is a problem."

Eg., DS was predicted A/A* in chemistry but got a B because of one bad exam.

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 21:58:14

I think it depends on your personality, lljkk. That would absolutely have been the right thing to say to me (slapdash, happy-go-lucky, take life as it comes).
DD is a perfectionist who tends to freeze and obsess over any possible mistakes, and also finds written work pretty challenging. I'd rather she got lower grades and didn't spend two years being miserable and not actually learning as much as she could because she's stressing about meeting expectations.

pieceofpurplesky Wed 12-Oct-16 22:11:07

English is 100% exam and your ex will be given a grade if a 7 I presume
If you are saying A? You DC needs to try as hard as possible as grade boundaries can change. If your dc wants to do A levels they do sometimes ask for at least a B in English - if your Dc is not trying they may slip a number!

pieceofpurplesky Wed 12-Oct-16 22:11:25

Dc not ex!

Sadik Wed 12-Oct-16 22:26:12

Still on letter grades here, purple. Ironically dd's probably better in exam conditions than with controlled assessments (there is still 20% controlled assessment in both language papers, but only oral, nothing written thank heaven). She'll definitely try, the aim is to get her not to spiral into panic.

Spam88 Wed 12-Oct-16 22:48:48

I'd really get to discourage any focus on meeting her target grade, she should just be aiming to do her best. I don't even know how she'd go about aiming for a B rather than an A unless she has an unusually in depth knowledge of the grading criteria.

ImpYCelyn Thu 13-Oct-16 09:20:15

Although a C has been considered the magic grade for core subjects, the reality is that less than a B can be pretty limiting for a student who wants to do A levels. Most school 6th forms here require a B in core subjects for entry, and an A in maths and science if they're taking them for A level. Outside of vet/med/Oxbridge, there are other universities with entry requirements for GCSEs, and with the change in A2 to final exam we suspect that these will become more important as there will be no AS grades to work with. Wanting a B is fine, but as other posters have said, aiming for a specific grade means being sure that the boundaries don't change and knowing the criteria very well. Even teachers get caught out by boundary changes. Two years ago there was a big change in English and it caused huge problems for students. Ideally, aiming for the A, with lots of positive reinforcement to avoid a panic, will be the best chance of getting at least a B. Students can, and do, slip from a B to a D surprisingly easily, especially with no controlled assessment for a safety net.

I do understand what you're saying about the pressure and it's a tough one to balance. But the teacher will be pushing anyway, as she will most likely be judged against the target grades, and if she thinks your DC is capable of it, she will push for it. We spend enough time desperately trying to deal with the ones which are wildly inaccurate. She also won't be able to change the target. They are completely produced from data and we have no input. What will change will be her predictions. None of those are worth anything until at least the end of year 10.

TeenAndTween Thu 13-Oct-16 10:46:26

I think there is aiming for and aiming for.

'aiming for' meaning trying to do the (bare) minimum needed to get that grade when capable of more, is a bad thing, and risky.

'aiming for' meaning being happy with that grade and not trying the stress and big push needed to get the next grade up, can be a good thing for certain students.

My DD1 was predicted an A for her maths, based on getting high Bs for tests, mocks etc. I told her the teacher was being over optimistic and that although on a good day she could scrape it, no way were we expecting an A. She didn't need the pressure, as when under pressure her maths cracked completely.

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