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(102 Posts)
fayeso Fri 01-Nov-13 11:12:48

My eldest is 13 this academic year, therefore due to sit GCSE's in 2017. Am I correct in thinking that her English and maths will be the new exams.....graded from 1-9, and her other subjects will be the old style GCSE...graded a-g?
Feeling slightly annoyed if this the case (which I think it is!!)
Can anyone confirm?

SidandAndyssextoy Wed 06-Nov-13 12:18:07

Friday, I have said the same myself many times - why is it assumed something is 'wrong' if girls outperform boys. On the other hand, if boys are underperforming for some reason it does no one any favours not to look into that. If, and I don't know if this is the case, any part of the reasoning for the return to final exams is that it will raise boys' marks, then I would find that a very lazy way of addressing the problems of academic engagement that many boys are struggling with.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 12:20:08

I think the reasoning for returning to final exams is because that's what Gove did when he was at school. Nothing more sinister than that.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:28:21

Whilst CA and modular learning may play better to the strengths of many girls (not all of course) in terms of raw results, I do think this has to be balanced against an education which is constantly stop/start, stop/start.

DD's all girls school has done extremely well out of the old style GCSEs. Punching way above its weight in the results tables. However, when I questioned the teachers about the changes to a more linear approach, each one was glad to see the back of the old system. The view to a (wo)man was that a move to modular will make for a much more fluid and flexible two years.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:29:56

And I agree with noble in that I don't believe the happy by product of a more pleasant two years has crossed Gove's mind.

But hey ho. Every cloud...

friday16 Wed 06-Nov-13 12:36:57

I think the reasoning for returning to final exams is because that's what Gove did when he was at school. Nothing more sinister than that.

In part, however, I think he's right. The most obvious example is modularised A Levels which mean that, particularly in the maths and sciences, some people are taking high-stakes exam which will affect their university admission in the January of L6 Y12. My memory of the lower sixth was an opportunity to stretch out and learn something about my subjects, and do some other stuff too. My elder's much happier in Y13 with nothing to come until June.

Being on a constant assessment treadmill from January of Y10 to June of Y13 which, with controlled assessments, means that people might not have a single month in four years when they are not either being examined or preparing for an exam (and teachers are having to mark them). It's hard to see how that's a good thing, and no matter what your animus is towards Gove, pointing out that it's not the best use of valuable contact time doesn't seem inherently wrong.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:41:45

Friday I hear ya.

My DD (year 10) recently had a CA in Eng Lit. She and her friends took it extremely seriously. It kind of took over, albeit for a short period of time.

I am very happy that this is not an experience that is going to be repeated ad nauseum in all subjects. Very. Happy.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 12:43:03

I'm glad to see the back of modular GCSE for that reason, constant past papers, revision sessions and resit decisions. But some students found the regular assessment and progress indicators very motivating and it is going to be a struggle now to keep them going through Y10, which I remember being a problem from when I taught linear 8 years ago.

Getting rid of January modules and AS levels I have nothing positive to say about. A terrible decision all round angry

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:47:26

noble I can only imagine how endless it must have seemed for teachers. Work towards a module, revise it, exam. And on. And on.

But yes, I can see how it motivates too.

DD is so pleased to have had the results of her first CA and now knows she's on the right track. That officially she is good at Eng Lit. And it has given some others a needed kick up the jaxy.

DS is vuirtually catatonic, so laid back is he. The odd module, CA might help! But he does iGCSEs, so that's not gonna happen.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:49:53

Oh and have AS exams gone now?

I can see they were useful. You've got to feel a bit sorry for the L6 though. It all felt very pressurised, very soon IYSWIM. Particularly those who started new schools and/or subjects. They'd no sooner settled in and they were taking a hugely important exam.

friday16 Wed 06-Nov-13 12:51:48

Oh and have AS exams gone now?

No. It's being proposed, but there will be a major amount of push-back from universities who, with current volumes of applications, may find the quality of their admission process drops without a good solid set of results in the applicant's chosen A2 subjects.

On the other hand, there's no equivalent of the AS for IB students, and universities appear to manage to admit them OK.

Particularly those who started new schools and/or subjects. They'd no sooner settled in and they were taking a hugely important exam.


bigTillyMint Wed 06-Nov-13 12:59:42

Yes, DD has a CA in Spanish tomorrow. She has learned the piece off by heart, but still wants to practice more. She will have one in French next week. What is she actually learning?confused

Oh and my DD is hardworking, but she also spends 10 1/2 hours a week on her chosen sport, plus other sport and lots of socialising. Definitely not dull.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 13:08:29

friday, as far as I am aware, AS, as a halfway point in the A-level course is definitely going. Linear A-levels, with full assessment at the end of Y13 are being developed for first teaching in September 2015 (same as new graded GCSEs) except in languages, maths and further maths which will start in 2016.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 13:14:18

Taking an important exam in January was a good thing, it meant kids hit the ground running. A lot underestimate the demands of A-level and assume what got them through GCSE would be enough. Mock exams in December show them that really, it isn't good enough and poor module results in March are sometimes a much-needed kick up the arse.
Good results are also a confidence-booster. A lot of kids struggle with maths and getting a decent grade early on shows them they can do it.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 13:21:34

noble I can see that.

An official stock taking exercise might tell some students that the course simply isn't for them.

I know maths is one subject where the jump from GCSE to A is stark. DS school won't let anyone take maths A level unless they've shown themselves highly profficient (an A* at GCSE is not considered the gold standard). And still it's the one where many a good GCSE student comes unstuck.

MFL the same.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 06-Nov-13 15:13:08

I agree that universities will not be keen on the loss of AS levels. Yes, international students and those taking the IB or other qualifications like access courses where there is no AS equivalent are generally admitted no problem. In these cases, where applicable, GCSE results tend to be looked at more closely, to see if they correlate with the students current predictions. However, it is my understanding that the majority of students still follow the A-level route.

In the past, when AS grades didn't have to be declared on university applications, schools often massively overpredicted the A2 grades, meaning applicants got offers that did not really match their actual ability. This isn't good for universities, or for students who end up with offers that they have no hope of achieving. The requirement to "cash in" AS levels was supposed to help stop this, I believe.

However, I am sure universities will find a way around it. I imagine GCSE results will become more important again, as these will be the only actual qualifications that applicants have to demonstrate their abilities. Unfortunately, as these are being changed, the GCSEs of the children in the new system may not be indicative of their true ability. This will make things quite difficult for admissions tutors for a few years.

Also, removing pretty much all the coursework from GCSE and A-level will probably mean students are very unprepared for university study, where coursework is usually an important element of the course.

Does anyone know what is happening to things like the extended project?

TellNoOneOK Thu 07-Nov-13 14:08:52

The issues regarding grading and exam difficulty, I think are as follows:

Using OCR gateway biology higher as an example

grade boundaries June 2013
A* A C
Paper exams % mark achieved 58% 47% 27%
Controlled assessment % mark achieved 90% 79% 60%
Total % mark achieved 70% 59% 39%
UMS score (shown on certificate) 90 80 60

grade boundaries June 2010

Paper exams % mark achieved 75% 63% 38%
Controlled assessment % mark achieved 91% 85% 68%
Total % mark achieved 83% 74% 53%
UMS score (shown on certificate) 90 80 60

Grade boundaries have recently declined despite these two biology exams being very similar. Both exams were hard, especially when taken with physics and chemistry. When there is a single assessment in
2015 for students starting in 2012 it will be extremely difficult to do well in real terms. The lowering of grade boundaries allows students to appear to be doing well in the subject. A* is the new A.

The controlled assessment sticks more to the traditional idea of what the grade boundaries should be. The government plans to get rid of or greatly reduce this element of the exam due to fears that girls do better in it and accusations about schools cheating. Where the latter is concerned I think this is now unfair. Pupils have to do the work in school,
the grade boundaries are ruthless and the exam board also seems to be ruthless in modulating the results.

Future plans for the separate linear science GCSEs will be unlikely to result in more difficult papers. If this is the case, hardly anyone would get an A grade or the boundaries would have to be yet further reduced.

crazymum53 Thu 07-Nov-13 15:33:31

Where do your figures come from TellNoOneOK ?
According to this link OCR Grade Boundaries 2013 the percentages you quote are incorrect.

The grade thresholds are: A* 90 A 80 B 70 and C 60 these are percentages because the total mark is 100, but this is not always the case (some papers may have a total mark of 60 or 90). So if the grade C mark was say 27/60 that would make more sense.

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 07-Nov-13 15:37:28

Those are UMS crazymum - not raw score.

friday16 Thu 07-Nov-13 15:39:03

The grade thresholds are: A 90 A 80 B 70 and C 60 these are percentages*

Those are UMS score, not raw percentages. The mapping from raw to UMS is at the heart of debates about standards. All marks have to be converted to UMS if you're going to have modules or choices of paper in the same syllabus, because otherwise there's no meaningful way to add them together. The setting of the conversion between raw and UMS is what allows grade boundaries to move: the grade boundaries are fixed in UMS terms, but the raw marks that go to make up that UMS can change.

TellNoOneOK Thu 07-Nov-13 16:36:02

Dear Crazy mum,

The link you have given only shows the UMS boundaries. 90 for an A*,
80 for an A and 60 for a C. The total ums score that can be achieved is 100. These score boundaries can therefore be quoted as percentages but they are not the actual % marks gained in the exam.

UMS scores are what we see on the actual exam certificate.

The other percentages that I am quoting are the actual percentages that the students gain in the exams. This is also available via the internet.
I will try and sort out a link.

A total of 256 marks is available for OCR gateway Biology higher. If a student achieved 60% on paper b731h, 55% on paper b732h, 90% on both controlled assessments b73301 and b73302 then they would have an A*grade and will have got 178 out of 256 marks or 70% overall.

How UMS is precisely linked to the raw scores to gain an overall final grade is a bit complicated. Looking at the raw scores is of worth as it gives a good idea of how students are really performing in the exams they are being given.

TellNoOneOK Thu 07-Nov-13 16:42:07

Dear crazy mum. This will find you the data for june 2013.

Similar data is available on the ocr website for other years.

crazymum53 Fri 08-Nov-13 16:26:30

Have checked your links thanks.
Your conclusion "Grade boundaries have recently declined despite these two biology exams being very similar" is however incorrect.
The results for June 2013 are for the current new GCSE Specification which schools started teaching in September 2011. Those from June 2010 are from an older specification, so the papers have been altered already to make them harder. Grade boundaries do tend to drop the first year a new specification is taught because there are no past papers to practise.

Feistymum1 Sun 18-Jun-17 10:04:06

Hi thoughts appreciated please. My daughter goes to private school and is a B/C/A level student. She is sitting her GCSEs next year and I am surprised to have just been asked if she can sit the foundation level science instead of higher tier. It's completely out of the blue- she didn't do brilliantly in her end of year exams. I was wondering if schools have been told they have to do a few foundation level exams and she is an easy pick. Thanks, Fuming mum.

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Jun-17 10:08:52

No, schools don't have a quota of kids to sit foundation that they need to fill. If she's a B/C student then foundation is possibly better for her than higher as the new exams are much harder than the old ones. Many students who sat the new maths exams this summer switched from higher to foundation for that reason. The school will probably be concerned that if she sits higher she will fail.

If you're not sure that foundation is right, then you could ask if she sit higher for her November mocks and then the decision be reviewed after this? However it would be worth asking the school for their opinion of how borderline she is.

AlexanderHamilton Sun 18-Jun-17 10:16:19

You really should start your own new thread as this is from 2013 but what year is your dd in. Will she be sitting the new 9-1 GCSE.

The new syllabus is hard. At dd's private school (he leaves at the end of this year) for the first time ever they are considering introducing a foundation paper rather than entering everyone for higher. The biology teacher said theyvwill struggke to get some of their lower ability kids through (& their lower ability kids are all above average nationally) due to the sheer content & introduction of topI've that were previously only on the A level syllabus.

In the foundation paper it's still possible to get up to a Grade 6 (equivalent to an old B grade)

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