New GCSE grades confirmed
12 Sept 2014
Ofqual have today confirmed the new GCSE boundaries and their initial relationship to the current GCSE grades.
The great news is that they listened to teachers' concerns over the equivalence of the lowest grades. At the consultation attended by Schoolzone, we put our teachers' views (gathered via our research programme) very strongly. The main one was that if the new grade 1 was pegged at the old grade F, all those students currently targeting a grade G would have nothing to aim for. We also pointed out that Ofqual had stated that the new GCSEs would be accesible to all the same students as previously, so it had to include grade G.
Full feedback from our teachers regarding the new GCSE grades is available here: it's been updated to reflect Ofqual's confirmed plans.
Ofqual have also clarified the position re international benchmarking - which is to say that, to all intents and purposes, schools can forget about this feature.
Here's how some grade boundaries will look (note C/D = 4/3 and A/B = 7/6 boundary correlations) - they give an indication in six subjects of what the grade distributions look like if the current and proposed awarding rules are applied to some mark distributions from 2010:
Source: Ofqual board paper (pdf)
Grade boundaries which are in between those that are set statistically, eg those between 4 and 7 (ie 5 and 6) will simply be the score gap between them divided by however many grades the score i nthe gap need to be shared between. For example, if:
Grade 7 = 89
Grade 4 = 56
The interval between 89 and 56 marks is 33 marks. 33 marks divided by 3 (grade intervals) is 11 marks. So grade 5 is set at 56+11= 67 marks and grade 6 is set at 89-11=78 marks. Grades 4, 5 and 6 are each 11 marks wide.
So we have some clarity at last. For schools wanting to realign their current assessment schemes, they can at least do so for grades current grades G, C and A and the others are simply equal intervals between - but note that the others will not be very reliable - extra care needed with predicted grades.
PS, if anyone's itnerested, the national standardisation test is also confirmed as going ahead (eg sample schools, with not all students doing all questions) but not used in 2017.
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