I have been a teacher for 27 years, a Headteacher for 12 years and, at the age of 51, this much I know about evaluating our 2015 Mathematics GCSE results.
How good were our Mathematics GCSE results this summer? That’s a question I am wrestling with. My evidence-base and the general context are outlined below.
Data 1 – Mathematics GCSE A*-C rate: 2015: 74%-77%-69% (Huntington; Huntington FFT D; national); 2014: 79%-77%-68%; 2013: 84%-80%-70%.
Data 2 – Mathematics GCSE average points score: 2015, 40.8; 2014, 41.3; 2013, 42.3.
Data3 – Mathematics 3 levels of progress: 2015, 74%; 2014, 76%; 2013, 81%.
Data 4 – Mathematics 4 levels of progress: 2015 38%; 2014, 31%; 2013, 34%.
Comparing apples and pears 1: There’s a line between 2014 and 2013 & 2012 because the DfE says you can’t compare the two sets of figures.
Comparing apples and pears 2: OFQUAL analysis tells us that comparing summer 2015 with summer 2014 results is of limited value.
Comparing apples and pears 3: The C grade boundary went up from 57 to 65 raw marks on the EdExcel mathematics GCSE papers:
A* grade boundary 155 (2014: 164)
A grade boundary 125 (133)
B grade boundary 95 (95)
C grade boundary 65 (57)
D grade boundary 35 (28)
E grade boundary 20 (13)
It’s been a turbulent year 1: five new mathematics teachers began in September 2014, including a new, externally appointed, Subject Leader. Furthermore, the Assistant Subject Leader left for promotion in January; consequently that left an Assistant Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher, a local retired teacher, two part-time colleagues and yours truly to pick up the vacant teaching for a term and a half.
It’s been a turbulent year 2: We had 8 students who didn’t get to take their final GCSEs, for reasons completely beyond our control, but who are counted in our cohort total.
It’s been a turbulent year 3: The Hannah’s Sweets question caused some consternation.
Asking hard questions 1: Dylan Wiliam’s tweet
and Professor David C. Berliner’s paper Exogenous Variables and Value-Added Assessments: A Fatal Flaw asked some good questions about the cornucopia of variables which affect our students’ performance and the veracity of value-added measures when it comes to judging the quality of teaching.
Asking hard questions, 2: our students are largely White British, one of the poorest performing ethnic groups in the country. And it’s difficult comparing us with what happens in London schools, as Professor Simon Burgess explains in his post Education and the London Effect.
Asking hard questions 3: Schools’ Week asked some good questions about this summer’s mathematics GCSE results without providing too many answers.
What Laura does show is that it’s pretty well a zero sum game, with as many schools’ mathematics GCSE results declining as improving. It begs the question, even if performance has improved, can it be seen to improve or will that be deemed the dreaded grade inflation?
So, how good were our Mathematics GCSE results this summer? What do you think?