Meaningful Exam Grades

Give employers and employees the Right to meaningful exam grades at GCSE and A level.

What does an A level "A" grade actually mean?

Has anyone seen a definition? No other grade system in public or private life is to poorly defined.

This does not do pupils and young adults any favours, as hard work and top grades are ignored and ridiculed.

It does not do employers any favours as they simply do not know how to discriminate between candidates, and probably reject potential excellent employees at the shortlist/sift stage without ever reading their achievements let alone meeting them.

Introduce a legally enforcable definition of the top 2 grades and the pass/fail boundary (others will follow naturally). For any subject with more that 1000 candidates an A grade could be defined as the top X%, a B the next Y% and fail less than Z% or less than U partly correct questions. (With over 1000 candidates there should be a "normal" and representative spread of abilities that is consistent from year to year, unless a particular subject is targetted by head teachers as being easy for thick pupils.)

To be honest, employers are less interested in absolute measures of ability, and more interested in comparing between candidates for selected key subjects – and that is not possible if a single grage covers a 40 point range.

Alternatively there needs to be some clear objective qualative definition that inspires confidence that an A grade in one subject represents the same level of intellegence, hard work, practice and learning as an A grade in a wildly different subject. Yes I realise that contradicts the above paragraph, but … this is very difficult to do without testing actual exam questions on statistically valid large number of benchmarked candidates – and that would of course mean revealing exam questions in advance.

Why is this idea important?

Give employers and employees the Right to meaningful exam grades at GCSE and A level.

What does an A level "A" grade actually mean?

Has anyone seen a definition? No other grade system in public or private life is to poorly defined.

This does not do pupils and young adults any favours, as hard work and top grades are ignored and ridiculed.

It does not do employers any favours as they simply do not know how to discriminate between candidates, and probably reject potential excellent employees at the shortlist/sift stage without ever reading their achievements let alone meeting them.

Introduce a legally enforcable definition of the top 2 grades and the pass/fail boundary (others will follow naturally). For any subject with more that 1000 candidates an A grade could be defined as the top X%, a B the next Y% and fail less than Z% or less than U partly correct questions. (With over 1000 candidates there should be a "normal" and representative spread of abilities that is consistent from year to year, unless a particular subject is targetted by head teachers as being easy for thick pupils.)

To be honest, employers are less interested in absolute measures of ability, and more interested in comparing between candidates for selected key subjects – and that is not possible if a single grage covers a 40 point range.

Alternatively there needs to be some clear objective qualative definition that inspires confidence that an A grade in one subject represents the same level of intellegence, hard work, practice and learning as an A grade in a wildly different subject. Yes I realise that contradicts the above paragraph, but … this is very difficult to do without testing actual exam questions on statistically valid large number of benchmarked candidates – and that would of course mean revealing exam questions in advance.

Restore Parents Rights To Detailed School Data

Ofcom school inspections used to provide parents with a wealth of factual data that could help parents see through wooly waffle and vague statements about "values" and "nurturing every child" and help parents decide if a school was good or not.

The right to this data has been destoryed with new simplified Section 5 reports. Restore this right now. At low cost schools could publish data every year. Or Ofstead could publish it for them. They already collect this data for the Government, so the extra cost would minimal.

Here is the information that I, as a parent, would look for when trying to shortlist schools or when considering moving to a new area:

Number of pupils (years 7-11 and sixth form separately), male and female numbers.

Number of teachers

New teachers in the year

How many established teachers have left

Teachers who have joined and left in the same year (staff turnover is an important indicator of an unhappy school).

Number of pupils who took every GCSE subject and numbers by grade band, by age or 1st attempt/2nd attempt (there is a huge difference between a school where most pupils take GCSEs in Hairdressing, Geography and Art at 16, bumping up the league table results, and schools where 14 year olds routinely sit Maths, and a third school where a minority of pupils sit hard subjects, and the same pupils resit once or twice if necessary to improve grades, but all three would score the same in league tables).

Number of pupils in GCSE points bands (do 10% of pupils get no GCSEs or 20%? Averages won't tell you that).

Ethnic breakdown of the school.

Class sizes.

Number of temporary exclusions and indication of how many pupils that refers to.

Number of permanent exclusions.

Pupil outcomes – number of Y11s gone on to further education categorised by 6th form in same school, Other 6th form, FE College, not gone on to further education.

        – number that have gone to University by rough Uni category (Oxbridge, Russel Group, middling, desperate, USA Ivy League) and subject or type of subject.

       – number employed / unemployed after 5 years.

by lessimon

Why is this idea important?

Ofcom school inspections used to provide parents with a wealth of factual data that could help parents see through wooly waffle and vague statements about "values" and "nurturing every child" and help parents decide if a school was good or not.

The right to this data has been destoryed with new simplified Section 5 reports. Restore this right now. At low cost schools could publish data every year. Or Ofstead could publish it for them. They already collect this data for the Government, so the extra cost would minimal.

Here is the information that I, as a parent, would look for when trying to shortlist schools or when considering moving to a new area:

Number of pupils (years 7-11 and sixth form separately), male and female numbers.

Number of teachers

New teachers in the year

How many established teachers have left

Teachers who have joined and left in the same year (staff turnover is an important indicator of an unhappy school).

Number of pupils who took every GCSE subject and numbers by grade band, by age or 1st attempt/2nd attempt (there is a huge difference between a school where most pupils take GCSEs in Hairdressing, Geography and Art at 16, bumping up the league table results, and schools where 14 year olds routinely sit Maths, and a third school where a minority of pupils sit hard subjects, and the same pupils resit once or twice if necessary to improve grades, but all three would score the same in league tables).

Number of pupils in GCSE points bands (do 10% of pupils get no GCSEs or 20%? Averages won't tell you that).

Ethnic breakdown of the school.

Class sizes.

Number of temporary exclusions and indication of how many pupils that refers to.

Number of permanent exclusions.

Pupil outcomes – number of Y11s gone on to further education categorised by 6th form in same school, Other 6th form, FE College, not gone on to further education.

        – number that have gone to University by rough Uni category (Oxbridge, Russel Group, middling, desperate, USA Ivy League) and subject or type of subject.

       – number employed / unemployed after 5 years.

by lessimon