Will there be lots of students who are 'demotivated' by the new grading structure for the GCSEs?On 16th November the BBC published a story about the new grading structure that will be brought in for the revamped GCSEs in (initially) English and Maths in 2015 and then in the other Ebacc subjects in 2016.
The new structure will see the loss of letter grades (A* to G) and in their place will be numerical grades (9 to 1), with 9 being at the top of the scale and 1 at the bottom. In their response to the GCSE consultation Ofqual said:
"In response to feedback to our consultation, we have moved from the eight grades we proposed to nine grades. In part this was to avoid the risk of people assuming that eight new grades would map onto the current eight grades. We also want to avoid the risk of reducing the opportunity for less able students to demonstrate the progress they have made and have their achievements recognised." pg 6
So Ofqual were not giving many details about the equivalence of 'old' and 'new' gradings. However, the BBC report suggests the following potential equivalence:
"Ms Marshall, from King's College London, has told the BBC she understands that for English at least, there will only be one or two grades below the equivalent of a C.
"It's my understanding that there will be more or less three levels for A grades, two levels for a B and two for a C," she said."
Which of course, leaves two levels for grades lower than a (current) C, rather than the current four.
I wondered how many students this would affect?
Each year, once the examining season is done and dusted, and results day has arrived JCQ publishes details of the results for that session.
The following are the percentage of students in English and Maths that achieved each grade.
English (731153 students sat the exam):
A* 3.3% A 10.9% B 20.3% C 29.1% D 21.5% E 9.2% F 3.8% G 1.2% U 0.7%
(36.4% of students achieving D - U)
Maths (760170 students sat the exam):
A* 4.9% A 9.4% B 16.2% C 27.1% D 18.1% E 10.0% F 6.9% G 4.7% U 2.7%
(35.5% of students achieving D - U)
From these figures, we can see that there are far fewer students at the bottom end of the scale than at the top end. The grading system currently provides very finely differentiated marks for E - U grades, and much less differentiation at A* - C).
I can therefore see the strong justification for providing a much smaller grade range below the nominal 'good' grade.
Of course, this doesn't address the fact that the 'new' GCSEs are likely to be harder than the old ones, so perhaps students getting a C currently, wouldn't do so in the future.
Out of interest, the figures for the various sciences are:
Biology (174428 students sat the exam)
A* 14.4% A 26% B 28.3% C 21.1% D 7.7% E 1.7% F 0.5% G 0.3% U 0.1%
(10.3% of students achieving D - U)
Chemistry (166091 students sat the exam)
A* 16.6% A 25.6% B 26.9% C 20.9% D 7.7% E 1.7% F 0.4% G 0.1% U 0.1%
(10% of students achieving D - U)
Physics (160735 students sat the exam)
A* 16.0% A 25.5% B 27.8% C 21.5% D 7.4% E 1.3% F 0.3% G 0.1% U 0.1%
(9.2% of students achieving D - U)
Science (451433 students sat the exam)
A* 1.4% A 6.7% B 16.2% C 28.8% D 24.6% E 12.5% F 6.0% G 2.5% U 1.3%
(46.9% of students achieving D - U)
Additional Science (283391 students sat the exam)
A* 2.6% A 9.2% B 20.0% C 32.3% D 20.6% E 8.9% F 4.0% G 1.6% U 0.8%
(35.9% of students achieving D - U)