A piece by Nicola Woolcock in today’s Times:
Grade boundaries for GCSEs are expected to be lower this year so that candidates are not penalised for being guinea pigs.
Teenagers who took GCSEs this year were the first to sit new, harder qualifications for the bulk of their subjects after changes brought in by Michael Gove, the former education secretary.
All will be graded 9 to 1 instead of A* to G, and pupils have also faced tougher content, less coursework, no modules, and exams after two years of study.
Ofqual, the exams regulator, said that this year’s cohort would not suffer as it will smooth the results if pupils have found the papers more challenging than last year’s candidates, to ensure “comparable outcomes”.
Grade 8 is the same as an A* and a grade 7 is pegged to an A grade. A 4 is a pass and a 5 is a strong pass — under the older system a pass was a C. Experts say there are likely to be very few grade 9s.
Cath Jadhav from Ofqual wrote: “Grade 9 is not the same as the old A* grade. It’s a new grade designed to recognise the very best performance. So in every subject there will be fewer grade 9s awarded than A*s in the old GCSEs.
Alan Smithers, a professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said that the switch to exams would dent the substantial lead held by girls over male classmates in GCSE English. [J4MB: Exactly what we’d expect from the introduction of a more meritocratic assessment system.]
Gary Stapleton comments:
Make the exams harder but then lower the grade boundaries. Renders the changes pointless and meaningless.
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