Andrew Weymouth, our Education Director and a former headteacher, looks at the big changes this year that will affect how schools’ results are reported in future.
As you may have heard in the media there are huge changes in exam and exam result reporting in schools. Below we have outlines some of the major changes to help make sense of the new reporting systems. It is important to remember that these changes mean you should not compare last years results with this years, i.e. if there is a drop in the number of students achieving 5 GCSE A*-C that may not mean that the schools standards are getting worse. At GCSE the most helpful figures for you to look at will be the % of students getting GCSE in maths and English. When they are released in November the Progress 8 measure will show how well the school is doing with the students it has.
The way student success is measured is due to change as new measures introduced by the Department for Education from September 2016. Here’s a quick guide to the changes that affect all children in State Education and what this may mean for your child.
Primary Students (Key Stage 2)
In previous years, at the end of year 6 students would sit SATs. These would be graded in national curriculum levels (e.g. 4a, 4b, 4c). Their reading and maths levels were used to inform target setting at secondary level, as well as to calculate the levels of progress made by students at the end of KS4 (one of the headline measures).
This year students sat tests in maths and reading that will be converted into scaled scores, with a range that’s expected to be between 80 – 130 points. A score of 100 will represent the ‘national standard’ and will be benchmarked each year to ensure that students achieving a score of 100 will have demonstrated the same ability, despite the annual changes in the tests. Students with a score below a yet to be determined threshold will need to be re-tested at secondary to ensure that they’ve reached the expected primary standard.
Secondary Students (Key stage 3 and 4)
Up until now, results have been measured by attainment only, specifically what percentage of students achieve five A*-C GCSEs in any five subjects, including English and Maths. Now attainment will instead be measured across eight subjects and students will need to sit exams in the following topics:
- English (including English Literature) and maths: the scores students get for these subjects will be double the value of other subjects.
- Three Ebacc subjects: these include science, humanities (history and geography) and a modern foreign language.
- Three other subjects: these can be vocational, creative GCSEs or additional Ebacc subjects.
This set of results will be known as Attainment 8 and will record an average score across eight subjects for each student as well as the average score for the school overall.
As well as changes to how attainment is recorded, for the first time schools will be clearly measured on progress levels too. The new Progress Eight format will track students’ progress between leaving primary at the end of key stage 2 and sitting GCSEs at the end of key stage 4. Students’ progress in their eight subjects and give them a score calculating their exam results compared with what they were expected to achieve four years previously.
Each school will be ranked based on how many grades above or below the students have performed compared to similar students. For the first time it will be clear whether schools are stretching all of their students from the high ability to the lower ability students by making a direct comparison with students who entered secondary school at a similar level. These scores will not be published until November.
This is how schools will be reporting their results:
When schools report on their Sixth Form results a number of new measures have been introduced that include progress, attainment, English and maths progress (for those who did not achieve at least a grade C at GCSE by the end of KS4), retention and destinations.
The key measure is progress, measured as L3VA (level 3 value added). In much the same way that Progress Eight compares students’ progress to the average progress made by students of a similar ability nationally, L3VA compares student outcomes to their estimated grade for that subject based on their KS4 qualifications. This will be reported for academic qualifications (A levels) and vocational qualifications.
For example, a L3VA score of +0.5 for a vocational qualification will mean that on average students achieved half an A level grade higher than students of a similar ability nationally, no matter the size of the vocational qualification; this allows for qualifications of different sizes to be easily compared.
What does this mean for my child?
- Students who do not reach the required standard at the end of primary school will need to resit the primary tests when they get to secondary school
- As your child progresses through primary and secondary school they will not receive levels (e.g. 3a, 4c, 4b) as they have done in the past. Schools will have their own way of tracking their students’ progress and they should be able to explain this to you.
- Schools will have adapted their curriculum to include more traditional academic subjects so that they can meet Attainment Eight
- In previous years schools have focused on 5 subjects, this year they will be focusing on 8
If you want more information on the national changes coming into place visit the Department for Education website: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/536052/Progress_8_school_performance_measure.pdf
If you want more information about how your child’s progress will be measured throughout their school career, now that levels are no longer consistently used, please contact your school.