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Don't understand the logic - A'level predicted grades

(25 Posts)
livingontheedgeee Wed 07-Mar-18 11:35:56

We've just been given my DDs first term A'level review grades in prep for the parents evening tomorrow.

I'm not sure I really understand nor whether I should worry unduly.

Take Maths for example. She has completed all her assignments and tests to date and has consistently gained a B/A. Her maths tutor has given her a current grade of E with a predicted grade of C.

Are they keeping the predicted grades low so they can showcase what a good job they've done when everyone gets much better?

It's rather demoralising for her even though she's just taken it with a shrug of the shoulders. Any first year A'level teachers out there who could explain?

Thank you.

finnto Wed 07-Mar-18 13:36:20

It could be the expected grade at AS level based on pupil's average GSCE points score. It's called an ALIS measure. It shouldn't form a predicted grade, but a target grade - I stand to be corrected by any teachers out there.

Personally, I would watch this like a hawk. If you think your child is being underprepared or underpredicted, now is the time to act.
Yr13 seems a long way off, but the predictions for university will be awarded, at the latest, in the coming October of Yr13. Some schools will give them out in the summer.

If you want to land a RG, or a traditional university, your child will need ABB predicted for most courses. It's not uncommon for popular courses to ask for AAA and I'm not just talking medicine or law. I recently encountered a fairly new uni asking AAA for psychology!
There is some evidence that unis are asking "big" and then discounting on the quiet come results time. But you don't want to have to rely on this because there's no way of judging this upfront.

Most of the desirable places will sift applicants at an admin stage, according to grade requirements. So if the prospectus asks for AAA predicted that's what you will need in order to progress to the next round, where teaching staff will be able to make offers from the whittled down numbers.

What's most scandalous is the variation in the way schools offer predicted grades. Some ask pupils what they will need and oblige. Others are ultra-conservative, fearing damage to the school's reputation with the unis if they overpredict. And there's often inconsistency within schools themselves, with some departments being lenient and enhancing by two or three grades, while others won't budge. It's a recipe for heartbreak if your child gets on the wrong side of it or anyone!

noblegiraffe Wed 07-Mar-18 13:47:26

It depends on what is meant by 'current grade'. Do they mean she is currently working at an E grade standard and needs to pull her finger out, or that if she sat the exam now she would get an E because she still has a year and a bit worth of content to cover?

She could be getting A/B now in tests and be predicted a C for the end of Y13 because the course starts off with easy stuff and gets a lot harder. A student who is not consistently smashing the top grades in Y12 could well be headed for a middling grade at A-level.
This is the first year of the new Maths A-level and no one has any idea how it is going to pan out in the long term so predicted grades are just guesses at the moment. I'd be looking at the student and comparing their level of work and ability to previous students and saying 'yeah, on the old course they'd get about a C'. But it's entirely possible for those predictions to be wrong even on the old A-level course which had been running for years. Really we didn't have a reasonable idea about how they would perform in Y13 until we got their AS results back, and there were always surprises there.

finnto Wed 07-Mar-18 14:11:37

Only one in six predicted grades is accurate (joint UCAS/UCU/Institute of Education research). And taken retrospectively from UCAS stats - predictions are mostly bloody guesswork!

livingontheedgeee Wed 07-Mar-18 14:12:09

Thank you both. I just assumed, perhaps naively, that her current grade would be the average level at which she's being marked.

Her university choices range from needing A*AA to AAB. There's never been any mention so far that she's setting too high an expectation. Quite the opposite in fact.

A couple of other kids who are also doing FM and plan to apply to Oxbridge were graded as U. How can you get Ungraded as a current grade?

I'll get to the bottom of it tomorrow and update you.

noblegiraffe Wed 07-Mar-18 16:32:03

What did she get for maths at GCSE?

Teenagedream Wed 07-Mar-18 18:41:13

My son's predicted grade in maths was a C. Tried to get school to higher it for UCAS but they refused. His predictions were BBC. He felt he couldn't apply to high unis so set sights lower. He got AAB and ended up going through adjustment which was a trauma in itself.
I wish the school had been more realistic and had encouraged him to aim higher. With hindsight it may have been better to take a year out and apply again. He's doing well in a RG uni but accommodation in first year was a problem due to adjustment so he took a long time to settle.

livingontheedgeee Wed 07-Mar-18 18:53:08

noble She got a 9 at GCSE Maths. A in Physics and A* in Chemistry. Also got A* in Business which she's doing this year but only as far as AS so she can concentrate on the facilitating subjects.

livingontheedgeee Wed 07-Mar-18 18:56:05

I just looked at the explanation on the back and it says the Target Grades are "based on national historical information about grades achieved by students who performed at roughly the same level at GCSE. So, not individualised in any way. Find that a bit odd.

Current grade is the level at which the student is currently working.

Predicted grade apparently hasn't been changed since day 1 and is the expected grade based on the average grade achieved by students with roughly the same grades at GCSE.

All in all, a bit of useless information I think.

noblegiraffe Wed 07-Mar-18 19:34:01

I'm a bit confused that a student who got 9s and A*/As has been given a computer generated target of a C. They should be targeted at A or at least a B. Did she fail the rest of her GCSEs or something? Otherwise something has gone wrong with their A-level prediction generator!

livingontheedgeee Wed 07-Mar-18 20:38:34

noble She got a 9 x A*/A (including the 9 in Maths) and 3 x Bs in subjects she isn't studying anymore.

They've been doing end of topic papers and some questions from last year's A level papers and the lowest she's had is a C across all subjects.

One thing I have found odd is she never has any homework beyond that which she's doing in free lessons. I thought it was a big step up in terms of workload from Yr 12 - 13 but I haven't seen any evidence of it.

livingontheedgeee Wed 07-Mar-18 20:39:19

Sorry Yr 11 - 12.

noblegiraffe Wed 07-Mar-18 21:46:45

A-level targets generated from GCSE results are commonly used, but like I said, did a top grade GCSE student to have a target of a C is odd.
Hope you get to the bottom of it!

livingontheedgeee Thu 08-Mar-18 21:07:09

Wasted an hour of my time I'll never get back!

So, the "current grade" is not actually the current grade (who knew) but the grade she would get if she took the A'level now. An E in Maths was apparently her working at grade 3 months ago. She's now working at a C. The Maths teacher isn't concerned that she won't achieve an A.

Chemistry and Physics teachers not concerned Apparently in Chemistry ("current grade" D on the form) her actual current grade is a B.

All in all, the information on the report meant nothing - they all said as much. They are taking mock end of years after Easter which should - mmmmm - give a more realistic picture of where they are compared to where they should be.

finnto Fri 09-Mar-18 14:30:01

I would explore further if I were you. I only say this, because your experience is uncannily similar to that of DC's - had As in the sciences at GCSE and only a C for a target grade in one of them. His GCSE profile is very similar to that of your DC also, majority As with a couple of Bs in the mix, nothing below.
I also came away from Yr12 meetings with teachers thinking there was nothing to worry about as he was performing well in class tests.
However, at predicted grades time, the school refused to move him up to the A he needed to match the predicted A he had in another science . As he wanted to do a high tariff science based course this was a very big deal. Unless pupils have AAA predicted - and it's the same for many high tariff courses - the application will not progress beyond the university's admin stage and the pupil will not get any offers.
It seems ridiculously harsh that a couple of Bs at GCSE, in unrelated subjects - Mfls in DC's case - can skew the algorithm for target grades.

It's particularly hard on state schools IMO, where cuts have meant that delivery of certain subjects can be patchy at certain times, or where families are unable to access tutoring to fine tune any performance that's less than perfect.

Of course, some schools are generous with predicted grades and will give pupils what they require for specific courses.
But the fact that our children are hostages to any school's idiosyncratic approach to the awarding of grades is quite frankly outrageous.

livingontheedgeee Fri 09-Mar-18 14:55:42

Our DCs situation do sound very similar finnto even down to the choice of degree and grades.

The subject teachers actually said they would give whatever predictions she needed as long as they were collectively comfortable she stood a good chance of achieving it on the day.

I could possibly stretch to a tutor for a few weeks now and again just to help her along but the teachers seem very open to offering all the support she needs to push her grade up.

Hopefully the combination of her own motivation and the school's support means she will do okay but I will keep a constant eye on things.

wheresmyphone Fri 09-Mar-18 17:47:14

Post hijack but we have such a stupid system. There must be a way of working the stupid system so students could sort uni applications after the results are known, not predictions. hmm

choirmumoftwo Sat 10-Mar-18 08:47:15

We could never make sense of grade predictions either. DS decided to take a gap year as his predictions meant he couldn't apply to any university he actually wanted to go to! Good decision on his part - got the grades he needed and 5 firm uni offers. Off to Cardiff in September.

Potcallingkettle Sat 10-Mar-18 08:56:28

Further maths appears to be one of the more meaningless ones in terms of predicted grades. The exam is marked so that the top x% get an A and then the next x% get a B etc. The problem with Further maths unlike other A levels is the cohort who take it all have A*\A grades at GCSE so the whole range of A level grades A-E is spread between children who all scored highly at GCSE. One of the many reasons for my DC to drop it after AS.

noblegiraffe Sat 10-Mar-18 10:46:05

That's not a reason to drop Further Maths A-level! shock

It's known that students who take further maths are all high attainers and the grade spread at A-level reflects that. Last year 58% of Further Maths A-level grades were A*/A compared to 42% for Maths, or 19% for English.

livingontheedgeee Sat 10-Mar-18 11:45:07

choirmumoftwo Well done to your DS for getting into Cardiff. It's a lovely city and I bet he loves his time there.

DD is taking a gap year too. She hopes to do an internship in the US for part of it although I'm not sure how I feel about that! Saying that, I moved away from home to work in London when I was 17 so I don't really have a good argument against it!

PandaPieForTea Sat 10-Mar-18 12:01:20

I think that the length of time homework takes depends a lot on the subject and pupil. If your DD has understood what has been taught then some questions/exercises in science/maths may not take her long. If you compare that to essay subjects then an essay will take a capable student quite some time, even if they have understood what has been covered in class.

However if your DD has the potential to get an A grade, but is getting Bs some of the time then she should probably be doing self study beyond her homework to secure and check her knowledge/understanding. If she waits until revision time then she will do herself a disservice as it is easier to revise something that you completely got previously.

The grade stuff sounds confusing and possibly meaningless.

Needmoresleep Sat 10-Mar-18 12:16:01

Potcallingkettle, Giraffe is right. Greek went into free-fall when a more rigid distribution of grades was used. Students only elected to study Greek if they enjoyed and were good at Latin. I assume the same holds true for languages like German and Russian, or ones like Mandarin where a good proportion sitting will be native speakers.

I dont know about new A levels but the same used to be true for some of the "softer" A levels. Many kids sitting, say, tourism, would not be A grade students, so very few A grades were given. It obviously did not mean that Tourism was harder than FM.

Taking FM does seem to increase your chances of getting an A* in Maths. Both because of the extended knowledge and because you can jiggle around with papers and marks.

beigepattern Sat 10-Mar-18 20:46:21

I would be a little worried about the homework. At my dd's school they say you should expect around 5-6 hours of homework per subject per week for Year 12. It does vary from week to week, but I'd say she has at least 2 hours most nights.

purplegreen99 Tue 13-Mar-18 10:31:05

A bit late to answer, but I just spoke to our school head yesterday about the A level target grades and he said it's done the same in all schools. They take the student's average score across their GCSEs and put it into a program that gives weighting for the difficulty of the subjects they are taking at A level and data on what students of a similar level achieved in those subjects to get a minimum target/predicted grade based on that.

So your dc's predicted C for maths is not based on her maths GCSE grade or current performance, but on her average GCSE score x difficulty score for maths A level & average performance of past students at maths A level with similar GCSE average score.

That only seems sensible to me if a student's GCSE results were fairly consistent across the board. But if, say, they got A*s in English, French and History, but Cs and Ds in sciences and maths, but were taking Eng, French and Hist A levels, then their targets would be skewed by the GCSE results covering subjects that don't have much bearing on the skills and knowledge needed for their A Level choices.

In our school (& I assume others) these targets are just used to give students & parents an idea of what to expect (& obviously for school and govt stats), but wouldn't normally used to work out predictions for UCAS which are based on current work levels, effort grades and Y12 summer exam grades.

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