A Note About The GCSEsAugust 23, 2012
This may be correct, we simply don’t know yet. However, there seems to have been a distinct lack of serious thought about what schools should have expected from their results. It has been on the cards for a while that the number of grades given would stay roughly the same this year. This has been made clear to exam boards. However, it doesn’t seem to have sunk in with schools or teachers what this policy of 0% grade inflation would actually mean.
1) Most schools cannot expect their results to improve. If targets were set based on continuing improvement in results then they are unlikely to be met.
2) If the average improvement in grades nationally is 0% then (assuming a symmetrical distribution) roughly half of schools will get worse grades this year than last year.
3) If too many schools target what they think is a “C”, then they won’t get it. It is no good looking at January mark schemes, or previous year’s mark schemes, and trying to replicate was a C grade then. Everyone else will be doing the same thing and they can’t all get Cs. Boundaries will shift upwards.
Furthermore the effects of these things I have described will be disproportionately felt by schools which have focused on improving their number of C grades. If you aimed for lots of low Cs then you are likely to be in trouble. If you relied on controlled assessments and coursework to get grade Cs (i.e. cheating), then it is almost certain the goalposts will have moved. The effects will also be felt more in subjects where marking is imprecise and arbitrary.
None of the fuss so far has indicated yet that there has been a real problem with English beyond the failure of schools to realise the above. The culture of continual “improvement” (that actually just meant gaming the system) is quite heavily ingrained. An end to grade inflation will be a shock to the system with a lot of consequences for schools. We will find out tomorrow whether there are actual grounds for all the hysteria tonight, or whether it is simply down to the inability of school leaders to understand the concept of a zero-sum game.
Update: The results are out. Apparently the change in English Language grades A*-C was a decrease of 1.5%. Dramatic in that one subject, but to be expected and nothing like the 10% drop the people in hysterics were claiming.
Feel free to thank me for being right.