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

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 13-Jul-13 12:58:02

Well isn't that just wizard. sad

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 13-Jul-13 12:59:48

Oh bloody hell.

webwiz Sat 13-Jul-13 13:40:59

I saw this but have decided not to mention it to DS. Don't you just love all the meddling after they've actually taken the exams hmm

kritur Sat 13-Jul-13 13:55:28

I am guessing that if it's being announced now they have just set the grade boundaries. The grade boundaries aren't set prior to the exams, those used by the schools for predictions are historic and the exam boards have a big caveat on all past paper materials which says assumptions about future assessments should not be made on the basis of past paper materials. It's all part of the government toughening up in core areas, it's a shame that the transition has been so speedy and badly handled though.

MadameJosephine Sat 13-Jul-13 14:05:59

Oh bugger, hope DS doesn't get wind of this. He was having panic attacks during his GCSEs as it is, he can do without the worry sad

creamteas Sat 13-Jul-13 14:15:07

DD is probably in a better position than many. Because of her ASD, her performance in exams can be erratic so they have agreed her place in 6th form on the basis of teacher assessment.

But still anxious about what they intend to do the grades.

Lfs2126 Sat 13-Jul-13 14:44:01

Are igcse's affected or are they completely separate?

circular Sat 13-Jul-13 15:11:37

Didnt see any mention of grade boundary changes for science, just that the syllabus is more difficult.
DD1 took the first modules of the new syllabus for each of Physics, Chemistry and Biology last year and did better than expected. Most of her set did very well (too set, average comp).
Found the second modules this year much more difficult than expected, and Physics a very strange format. Seriously worried as intending to take Physics A level.

poppydoppy Sat 13-Jul-13 15:29:52

What do you think the grade boundary will be for an A*? the student room predicts anything from 38/60 to 42/60.

lurcherlover Sat 13-Jul-13 15:37:08

Grade boundaries change from year to year (and even within that - see last year's fiasco with the changes from Jan to June in English).

I'm a secondary teacher and would expect grade boundaries to be harsher in most subjects tbh. Gove has made no secret of the fact that he wants exams to be "harder" (except changing the boundaries doesn't change the content, but whatever...) and exam boards are businesses. They want to keep in favour with him just in case he ever manages to get his ridiculous plans in place for one exam board per subject, so they'll do what he wants.

creamteas Sat 13-Jul-13 15:52:51

I don't think grade boundaries are predictable at all this year, none of us will know until the day.

Copthallresident Sat 13-Jul-13 16:02:49

My DD took Gcses last year and a lot of her peers were affected by disappointing grades in English, and English Literature. I would prepare DCs as there were a lot of heartbroken teenagers coming out of schools thinking they had failed to do as well as predicted. It took around 24 hours before it became apparent it was a marking fiasco and the sixth forms let them know they were going to allow them on to the A level courses with lower grades based on teacher recommendations. Just preying they haven't got more of the same in store at AS level.

circular Sat 13-Jul-13 20:12:32

Poppydoppy that would mean a huge UMS adjustment to get the 90%.

Just checked DDS result slip last year (OCR Gateway) and for the P1/P2/P3 unit she got 128/140 UMS which would be 91% - so just have scraped the a*. Not sure what the raw mark was though. That's 35% of the modular GCSE. P4/P5/P6 this year will be out of 160 (40%) and the CA 100 (25%).

Biology teacher seemed to think boundaries would be very high. Her CA was 42/48 and she has been warned that could be a B.

mumslife Sun 14-Jul-13 11:01:26

Have warned my daughter which stressed her out even moresad does anyone think if they all get lower than expected schools and grammars will drop their requirements slightly for six form?

webwiz Sun 14-Jul-13 11:37:23

According to the sunday times Maths grade boundaries will be high as well and so the exam results will be lower than previous years. Not very nice for those on the C/D boundary.

Copthallresident Sun 14-Jul-13 11:45:52

mums that is certainly what happened in this area, last year. It took 24 hours but once they realised what had happened. At this rate employers and uni will have to keep list of what blew up each year, like wine vintages. Ah, she got an A* in Maths in 2013, was that a good year for Maths A*s.

As one Headmaster commented, the goalpost are being shifted, just not by anyone with a working GPS sad

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 14-Jul-13 12:01:44

web not very nice for anyone. sad But it's possible the maths boundaries will be high because the exams were less difficult than anticipated?

webwiz Sun 14-Jul-13 12:26:26

No russians its a moving of the boundaries in addition to the adjustment for exam difficulty following an instruction from Ofqual.

creamteas Sun 14-Jul-13 13:37:37

Gove has been mouthing off about GCSEs not being fit for purpose, when it was patently not true. So in order to make it true, he is ensuring that grade boundaries cannot be trusted anymore (through Ofqual which is clearly just a lackey). The fact that he is playing politics with our children's lives is just despicable angry.

Most colleges/universities have a good understanding of what is going on (and are really not happy about it). So this will not be a massive problem for DC to gain entry. We are already talking about lowering expectations of GCSE results following last year's fiasco.

But future employers are less likely to be following this, and as entry to employment is much more staggered than college/university, this could be a bigger problem sad.

webwiz Sun 14-Jul-13 15:31:34

I don't think I'll bother reading any more articles about this as its too annoying and upsetting.

DS is happily oblivious and hopefully will stay that way till results day.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 14-Jul-13 16:50:32

Dd1 isn't oblivious. She w the one who brought the story about the science grades to my attention. However our theory is that they won't want to have an increased de facto fail rate (ie below a grade C) - we reckon the shiftings will be around the A*s and As, with larger numbers of kids getting Bs and CS - much like it was when I was a kid all those years ago. Grossly unfair for the kids who would have been A/A* students in the last few years, but perhaps not as bad as some fear for those at the C/D margin. Ultimately, Gove is not going to be ale to stand up and say 'you wanted more kids to fail, well look, more have'. His focus is on reducing the false impression that these exams are easy while still being able to trumpet improved education as evidenced by results. So, same number or more passes - but fewer top grades. Dd1 reckoned she ws screwed anyway what with her broken hand and having her face smashed in just before the exams. She is even less confident about the outcome now. sad

circular Sun 14-Jul-13 19:55:25

Russians - but it is as bad when a kid that expects A*/A ends up with B/C and is unable to take an A level in that subject as a result.
After seeing the article Dzd thinks her chances of Taking Physics A level are doomed. Predicted A* but thinks she may not have even got the A/B she needs.

DD1 took Maths (Edexcel linear) in Feb/Mar this year. Grade boundaries were the highest for a while, and papers not exceptionally easy.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 14-Jul-13 21:43:28

Circular well, yes, obviously, that was my point. hmm That's exactly the situation Dd1 is in, except she doesn't have the benefit of having taken several modules in easier times. sad I think, given the new Govian paradigm and the bad circumstances under which Dd1 had to take her exams, she has been exceptionally unlucky. Napoleon certainly wouldn't want her as a general.

circular Sun 14-Jul-13 22:34:04

Russians, the science modules last year were the first sittings for same syllabus - first teaching started in 2011. They had to be or would not count. There were rumours last year that science grade boundaries had moved too, but not clear how that affected those modules. Most of her set did well, a few retook to improve marks, none said that the retake was any more difficult.

DD was also 'lucky' enough to take AQA English Language last year. Probably so fixated on that, didnt really notice if her science marks should have been better.

Dontlikepink Sun 14-Jul-13 22:43:53

This is very demoralizing, confusing and unfair on the young people. DS is in Y10. The goal post keeps moving, how can DC adequately prepare?

Could anyone clarify - did the syllabus or test papers change again compared to the specimen they issued in 2011? Are there going to be more change next school year?

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 14-Jul-13 22:54:38

Circular, to be honest, anyone who wasn't seriously assaulted the day before her first GCSE, and who had to take them all with a broken hand, is lucky in our book. The benefits that the people who have taken all or part of 50% of their GCSEs at sittings before this summer when compared to those who did the linear exams in may and June pale in comparison to that. But none of that changes the fact that, like with English last year (except that was reversed for many people, no?) something Very Odd is clearly happening this summer. And the kids who did all their exams This Summer rather than having them spread out look like being in a significantly worse situation than those who did take modules at every sitting since whenever. Pointing that out is hardly contentious surely? Like you, I am worried about my child and in a thread about the effects of the politically motivated muckings about that are going on in relation to the may and June exams, going on about exams taken in January and last summer is a bit insensitive, don't you think?

creamteas Mon 15-Jul-13 08:47:14

Russians Whist clearly what happened to your DD, means that she is was disadvantaged in a particular way, I don't think you can say automatically that students taking the exams in a linear way will be worse off than those who did modules.

In January, the science results were lower than expected as well. And given what is being said, it is unlikely that resits will improve grades.

Also not every school has a resit culture even if they take modules earlier. At DDs school, resits are only permitted when the results are significantly out of line with expectations (eg A* student getting a C/D would resit, but not if they got an A or B). So the majority of those who got lower grades in January are having to live with them.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 09:11:05

cream I think that anyone who took exams in May and June is in. Very precarious position because Gove has clearly gone mad. Kids who took ALL their exams in May and June are clearly in a worse position than kids who took some of them before - because this year is clearly year zero for political manipulation. sad

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 09:18:30

I think what makes me so frustrated and, basically, angry, is that the schools who gamed the situation, the ones who let their students take exams in little dribs and drabs, an English exam here, a maths exam there some science modules at a different time again - they contributed to the situation (and especially the resit culture) that gave Gove the confidence to just Hulk!Smash everything in the middle of the two year GCSE cycle. But the kids at those schools stand at least a chance of being less severely affected than the kids at schools which didn't game the system, where all the kids take linear exams at the end. I'd be very worried if my Dd1 had taken 5 GCSEs in May/June, of course, but at least I'd know she had some old paradigm results in the bag. As it is, Dd1 has all 12 exams potentially about to be fatally compromised by Gove's messing. And as I said upthread - although most people seem to be worrying about C/D borders, I think it will be the A/A* students who are smacked. And that might have been Dd1 (although given the circumstances under which she took her exams, really, who knows) sad

Dontlikepink Mon 15-Jul-13 09:27:38

Is that result of a change made in 2011, or is that a new installment of the continuous moving of the goal post?

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 09:30:08

Dontlikepink I'm not quite sure what you are talking about, but the information that is being leaked about grade boundaries being hiked sky high and results being worse this year is new, and it's clearly related to political manipulation.

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'?'

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 09:45:55

You're probably all too right sad

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 10:13:45

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

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.

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. 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 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.

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 11:27:30

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.

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

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

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.

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 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 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 12:36:07

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.

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.

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!"

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!

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

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.

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.

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.

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

anyone know if IGCSEs are affected as well?

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.

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