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13% for a pass on maths GCSE (November resits)

(51 Posts)
noblegiraffe Thu 11-Jan-18 22:21:39

The kids who failed their maths GCSE in the summer had a chance to resit in November and the results have recently come out.

The grade boundaries for the maths papers, the second set of the new fat GCSE were even lower than in the summer. 13% for a 4 (old C) on the Edexcel higher paper.

I know, I know, a 4 means that they have had to answer some difficult questions and they would have to be of a reasonable standard to achieve that amount of marks on higher because it's so hard, but really? 4.5 hours of exams and get 87% of the questions wrong and be awarded your pass. Isn't that just a monumental waste of time? 13% to represent your entire maths education in a single number?

Obviously the answer is that pass grade kids should be entered for Foundation but there will always be chancers on higher.

However, despite low grade boundaries, the resit pass rate for maths was 30%. (39% for English). I guess only those who had a shot at it were entered as well.

noblegiraffe Thu 11-Jan-18 23:07:18

Just seen the Foundation boundaries. 47% for a 4 pass on Foundation. 60% for a 5. FFS the majority of kids are sitting exams they can't access more than half of. How is that reasonable?

Astronotus Thu 11-Jan-18 23:52:41

How does a pass at such a low percentage, 13%, prepare children for the outside world? Is it not demoralising for them to realise they scored so lowly and they really don't understand most of the subject taught to them?

Noble, do you think too many are put in for Higher because of league table worries by schools or pushy parents?

GreenTulips Thu 11-Jan-18 23:59:27

The papers are targeted

So the first questions are level 3
Next set level 4
Next questions level 5

So 8 levels spread over 80% of the questions

Assuming 10% for each grade would make a pass rate of between 10 and 20%

noblegiraffe Fri 12-Jan-18 00:15:08

There are no level 3 questions on the higher paper.

myrtleWilson Fri 12-Jan-18 00:20:26

sorry off topic slightly but keen to ask experts... in general when do teachers have to decide which exams to submit pupils for (foundation v higher) - is it in Year 11 - and if so how far along?

noblegiraffe Fri 12-Jan-18 00:21:35

Astro I think kids are put into higher because historically, it was thought that borderline C/D kids had a better chance of getting their C on higher - the C grade boundary on Foundation was about 70% so they needed quite a bit of stamina and accuracy to achieve that.

A lot of schools decided to carry on as normal and enter their grade 4 borderline kids for higher for the secure mock Edexcel did - Edexcel then had to beg schools to drop kids down to foundation. Still some schools thought it worth the punt and some borderline kids made the 4 probably because we knew before the exams were sat that 70% of kids had to get a 4 so they lowered the grade boundaries to a ridiculous level to achieve that. In June you needed 17% to get a C.

Then in the November resits, I bet a few schools looked at that 17% grade boundary and thought surely these kids can manage 17% so entered again for higher.

Deciding tier of entry is a gamble that has given pretty much every school in the country a total headache for the new GCSE maths.

noblegiraffe Fri 12-Jan-18 00:26:09

Exam entry deadline is 21st Feb of Y11, myrtle. Tier of entry can be amended after that but you have to pay an amendment fee.

myrtleWilson Fri 12-Jan-18 00:28:14

Thanks Noble much appreciated - apologies for the hijack! My dd is in year 10 so we're just on this path now... Read the threads running up to the first new GCSEs with great interest last summer.

Astronotus Fri 12-Jan-18 00:35:38

Yes many thanks Noble.

Seeline Fri 12-Jan-18 11:58:19

Out of interest what marks were the other grades awarded at for the higher?
13% of questions correct to pass seems ridiculous, even accepting that they were at a harder level.

TeenTimesTwo Fri 12-Jan-18 12:08:56

60% to get a 5 on the foundation paper seems crazily low to me as an outsider too. What is the point of the final 40% of the paper? this really doesn't seem 'fit for purpose' to me.
Why not either make foundation paper easier, or allow grade to go up to a 6?

How many questions is 13%? If it is 3 that seems too few. If it is say 10 maybe it's OK really given that only the very brightest will attempt the final few questions?

What do you think they need to do noble ?
Do they need to go back to Intermediate tier?
Put more easier question in Higher tier?
Drop some harder questions from higher tier?

BetterWithCake Fri 12-Jan-18 14:48:21

Seems like they need an intermediate tier, or the foundation should maybe go to a 6.

Kursk Fri 12-Jan-18 14:55:16

13% for a pass, seriously.

LooseAtTheSeams Fri 12-Jan-18 15:11:12

TeenTimesTwo you're right, and I'm sure under the old system you had to get much higher than that to get a C on Foundation - Noble will know, but that was my impression.
Do we deduce from all this that the new higher spec for maths is just ridiculously difficult or is it because it's new and subsequent years are going to be more used to the content and format? A colleague who supports students at the college where I work says the new maths spec is crammed - and the maths teacher is trying to teach it to re-sit students (many of whom did the old spec) in a year!!

LooseAtTheSeams Fri 12-Jan-18 15:16:05

BetterWithCake raising the top end of foundation to a 6 sounds like a good idea! Or splitting maths into two GCSEs, with everyone taking a numeracy exam but a choice about taking the more complicated topics in a separate 'pure maths' exam - if that's the right term. I'm not a mathematician! There's no point putting children in for a paper where they know they will only be able to tackle a few questions.

rogueelement Fri 12-Jan-18 15:31:19

My dyscalculic DD is doing Foundation Maths at the moment and it's really tough - we also heard the argument that she 'wouldn't have to do much' to get a pass at Higher (which I think completely misunderstands the issue) - but given that she's a borderline C/D candidate her teacher felt she was quite high risk of completely panicking and getting nothing.

On the other hand Foundation is quite exacting. It's so dispiriting. I have been helping with all her Foundation past papers and I know so many people will scorn her possible D when for her it would represent a massive amount of progress and a reasonable level of knowledge. I got an A in Maths O level back in the day, but I don't understand half her syllabus.

noblegiraffe Sat 13-Jan-18 00:58:02

Here are all the grade boundaries for the November resits. 49% for a 5 on OCR foundation is particularly ridiculous.

I just don't get the point of exams where most kids can't access half the paper. 'Oh we need to make GCSEs harder so that we can differentiate between kids at the top end' they said. Well now we've got hugely difficult papers at both Foundation and Higher and instead of differentiating at the top end, you've got the top 40-50% of marks being awarded the same grade for Foundation, and only the top 3% of kids in the country accessing the top fifth of the marks on Higher.

Adding a grade 6 to Foundation would be awful - it's already a very difficult exam for weak students and adding grade 6 material would mean even more questions that students can't do. I've heard that Edexcel are discussing amending the papers to put easier questions at the beginning of Foundation - a move that is desperately needed.

The old GCSE was crap for the brightest kids - there weren't enough really tough questions so that the A/A* kids could really demonstrate what they knew. Now they're pretty much the only kids that get to. 13% isn't demonstrating what you know - over 3 papers that's about 10 marks per paper out of 80. No one is going to come out of an exam where they've got 10 marks feeling positive about the subject.

I'd like a return to 3 tiers except you'd have to be able to get a pass on Foundation, which used to only go up to a D.

jeanne16 Sat 13-Jan-18 07:19:44

Our Y11s have just sat their maths mock. The papers are so much harder that the grade boundaries have had to be lowered. It is so dispiriting for both teachers and pupils to see this. The pupils have to sit in the exam room for 2 hours (2.5 if they have extra time) and they pretty much finish everything they can do in about 20 minutes because they can access so little of the paper. We are getting lots of marks below 10% which is a U on the higher paper. We have never had this before. Think of us at the next parents’ evening, trying to explain this to irate parents.

LooseAtTheSeams Sat 13-Jan-18 08:36:15

Noble of course, you're right, there's no point raising foundation to a 6 and making it even more impossible! It would be much better to have more easier questions that more students realistically can do.
Higher tier is even demoralising for able mathematicians so this idea of differentiating at the top hasn't been too helpful.

ReelingLush18 Sat 13-Jan-18 08:46:05

What about reintroducing what I did - the equivalent of a 16+ Maths course. It was a 'catch-all' for the lower sets in my year at grammar school - it meant that if you didn't do well enough to get an O Level (C) you could at least walk away with a CSE in the subject. Thankfully I passed and got my O Level - phew.

areyoubeingserviced Sat 13-Jan-18 08:55:36

It’s seems so unfair.
My dd ( year11) achieved A star in all the past papers in GCSE maths. However, she achieved a 5 in her year 11 mocks.
She has decided that she does not want to do A Level maths anymore.

TeenTimesTwo Sat 13-Jan-18 09:35:48

noble I wasn't suggesting adding harder stuff to Foundation! shock

I was suggesting that maybe someone scoring say 75% on Foundation as it already stands could be awarded a 6. (But maybe that wouldn't be right for reasons to do with alignment with Higher?)

The exams as they stand don't seem to be fit for purpose.

Seeline Sat 13-Jan-18 10:12:41

How is each paper put together in term the number/proportion of level 1, 2, 3 questions? Are there equal numbers of each category? I am assuming that there are no questions below a certain level on the higher papers. Only getting 13 pc for a pass would appear that very few questions where even attempted, let alone correct. Sorry if it sounds stupid, but I assume that if kids are entered for the higher papers, they have been taught the whole syllabus?

BetterWithCake Sat 13-Jan-18 11:32:42

Shouldn’t the papers reflect the actual syllabus? If students are unable to do many of the questions on both foundation and higher then there is something very wrong with the whole system.

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