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Did you know GCSE A* grades are being slashed this year?

(87 Posts)
roisin Sat 26-May-12 14:37:30

The Joint Council for Qualifications have required all GCSE subjects to grade A* differently in future.  OFQUAL have required all the exam Boards to return to the level of awards as made in 2008, leading to a reduction in the pass rate at all grades.  

I don't have information for all subjects, but apparently in some subjects the difference is massive.  In 2011 in AQA Biology 23% of all entries were graded A*.  In the Jan 2012 Biology module, just 0.9% of papers were graded A*!  

I approve wholeheartedly of the revised exam board policy of reserving A* for truly exceptional - and statisticallly rare - performance.

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 16:30:58

Well my DD got an A* for the AQA biology paper she did in January; most of her friends did. She did two more papers last week. I think if kids wind up with lower grades this year for a similar performance to last it is a bit unfair tbh. If Ofqual want to change the curriculum or exam format they can go ahead, but changing the marks awarded for a very similar exam won't solve anything - it will just piss me off if she gets A instead of A* (if she would have been awarded that last year).

LeeCoakley Sat 26-May-12 16:52:52

As long as all sixth forms downgrade their admission requirements accordingly.

I bet it's to soften the blow when the average grades in the new-style GSCEs turn out to be lower.

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 17:05:48

Roisin - where does this information originate from? I can't find it on the Ofqual website or those of the exam boards.

tiggytape Sat 26-May-12 18:20:59

I haven't seen anything either but you've got to admit - a 23% pass rate at grade A* is ridiculous. It devalues it completely for those that truly deserve it (i.e. the people who come in the top 5% or so of the whole cohort) and it also devalues all lower, but still good, grades (if 23% get an A* then all of a sudden getting a grade B or C doesn't look so great at all).

MaureenMLove Sat 26-May-12 18:58:32

Well, DD is unlikely to achieve any A*'s, but she is an A-C student. Unless, of course that means all the grade will be adjusted accordingly?

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 19:04:00

Yes, I just checked on the AQA website as I found it unbelievable, OP is quite right about last June's Biology - I had assumed it was the top 7-10% but it is 23%. Chemistry was 25% which was even stranger as I always thought that was the more difficult science. Art & Design was much lower at around 10% or much lower depending on the course which surprised me as nearly all the girls at DD's school got A* last year. The various English exams were also 10% or less - bizarre!

Maryz Sat 26-May-12 19:18:39

How on earth can 23% of children get an A* in an exam shock That is mad.

In Ireland, fewer than 5% of kids would get a top mark in any state exams. No wonder all the GCSE results look so good.

What grade is an A*, by the way - here an A1 is over 90 percent.

BringBack1996 Sat 26-May-12 19:19:55

I hope DS doesn't find out about this, it will really shatter his confidence sad

It's odd that it's the sciences with the highest % achieving A*s as, although he's pretty consistent across the board, DS is much more likely to achieve an A* in English or Art and Design than Biology. How bizarre!

mummytime Sat 26-May-12 19:26:00

Weird DS got a C on a Biology paper last summer, upped to A* this January. (There are reasons why he under performed and weever got the school to pay.)

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 19:28:09

No wonder DD was predicted all A*sconfused(except mathswink)

notnowImreading Sat 26-May-12 19:32:20

Don't forget that in many schools, separate sciences are only offered to the top 10-15% of students, so they are already the brightest. Most students will do Double Science or Science BTec. In my opinion, it is unfair to make an exam much more difficult to excel in just because the pupils taking it are aiming for higher grades.

Maryz Sat 26-May-12 19:34:21

Yes, but how do you divide off the really bright ones notnow? I mean, if a child is in the top 5% but the top 25% get A*s, how do you know?

Surely the fact that all colleges know that only the brightest do the separate sciences should be enough and A*s should only go to the very best, regardless of the subject.

webwiz Sat 26-May-12 19:41:03

Its 25% of the entries though so if only the top 10-15% take the exam then its actually the top 2.5%- 3.75% overall who get an A*.

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 19:42:20

notnowImreading - thanks that makes a lot more sense. DD is doing the 3 sciences as are all her classmates as she is at a grammar, but in younger DD's Comp at least half the kids do BTEC and a lot do the double award rather than triple.

AdventuresWithVoles Sat 26-May-12 19:44:46

Yes I knew, at least 2 previous long threads about it on MN in last.... 3 months?

GetDownNesbitt Sat 26-May-12 19:46:48

The general breakdown used to be 60% for a C, 70 for a B, 80 for an A and 90 for an A*.

It is fairly widely thought in the teaching profession that the boundaries will be altered this year - so, for example, where 31 out of 50 used to be a C, this year it will be 35.

Then in a couple of years it will all change again and that wanker Gove will claim all the credit.

gelatinous Sat 26-May-12 19:49:52

It's the science grades that will be affected. Not those finishing this year, but the year 10s doing the first round of modules.

Info here

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 19:52:39

AdventuresWithVoles - I have seen threads discussing grade inflation etc but I don't think I have seen any with the information OP gave that Ofqual have decreed that only X% can be awarded A*. I would like to know where this information originates from, I cannot see anything about it on the Ofqual website. Most girls at DD's school have been predicted a good haul of A*s and there will be some pretty disappointed girls (and parents) on results day if the grades are a lot worse than predicted. The teachers also gave no warning of it.

AdventuresWithVoles Sat 26-May-12 20:01:12

Fair enough, perhaps Exact percentage breakdown is new info to MN. Seems like micro detail to me, though maybe I think that way because I don't have a current borderline teen taking the exams.

BackforGood Sat 26-May-12 20:03:17

I absolutely agree that there should be a sensible range for getting a pass, and then for getting an A or and A* , not the ridiculous situation that has become of GCSEs, but it should be across the board, all subjects, all exams, and be made clear to eveyone (ie for admissions, but also widely publicised in the press etc.,) so all the Grandparents aren't going 'Oh, he didn't do as well as his sister, did he?'
One exam doing it, and doing it quietly like this, isn't the way forwards.

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 20:08:29

I think an official policy from Ofqual is information that should be in the public domain if it is true; it is completely different from the speculation beforehand.

gelatinous Sat 26-May-12 20:11:22

It's no more unfair than the years in the past when the grades have slipped massively the other way and of course nobody complained then, but the children taking exams just before the grade inflation had the same disadvantage as the children who will take theirs just after the correction.

gelatinous Sat 26-May-12 20:12:17

Did you read my link BeingFluffy? it's the official policy from ofqual...

BeingFluffy Sat 26-May-12 20:17:09

Yes, cross-posted smile
Looks like younger DD currently year 8, will be the main casualty. She is sitting GCSEs over year 9, 10, and 11 so will no doubt experience the full impact of the "improvements" for GCSE and later for A' level.

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