With the imminent release of A-level grades in England on Thursday, 13 August, followed by GCSEs on 20 August, anticipation is mounting. This year will be unlike any other. For the first time, with mass school closures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, students have not had the opportunity to sit these high-stakes public examinations. They will instead receive allocated grades, arrived at through a combination of predicted grades, teacher judgments and comparative rankings of their perceived performance in relation to their classmates (Ofqual, 2020). Our research (EBI, 2020) clearly shows that students directly affected are experiencing considerable stress, anxiety and a feeling of helplessness concerning the allocation of these grades – which is unsurprising given that their future educational and employment choices and opportunities are at stake. (more…)
The Conservatives and Labour hold different views on the future of England’s system of school accountability by Progress 8. However, both parties’ thinking is at odds with the research evidence.
Over the last 30 years, successive governments have held secondary schools to account for their GCSE results via national school performance tables (for a review see Leckie & Goldstein, 2017). In 2016 the Conservatives replaced their longstanding ‘5A*–C’ school performance measure – the percentage of pupils with five or more GCSEs at grade C or higher – with Progress 8, a ‘value-added’ measure of the average pupil progress made between key stage 2 SATs and GCSE. This long-argued-for shift in measuring school performance reflects the fact that simple school differences in GCSE results say more about differences in the types of pupil taught in different schools than differences in the effectiveness of the education provided by those schools. (more…)