Ofqual 2018 GCSE report

Ever since August 2012 I have followed GCSE outcomes. That summer was the year that Ofqual and the Dfe changed GCSE outcomes and really put an end to years of grade inflation. It was a summer that changed my view on the "system". A system that at times appears to be unfair.

My 2015 Blog

Ofqual then set about setting up a system of comparable outcomes. How it now works is that every year the exam boards in July send there outcomes to Ofqual with the expected outcomes based on Progress from Key Stage 2. The exam boards are under extreme pressure to make sure the outcomes match expected. Ofqual now has a strangle hold over the boards. This is achieved by the importance of "the list".

The List

To gain points that count towards Progress 8 schools have to choose only subjects that are approved by Ofqual and added to the list. If a course is not on the list it will cost the exam boards a great deal of money. (I will not on this blog talk about how bad it is that the list is produced so late - that is so obviously wrong and shows how Ofqual have no idea how long it takes to design and implement a curriculum, you will have noticed that 2021 has not yet been published and options evening will start after Christmas).

So we move to 2018 Maths. Ofqual spotted the problem of comparable outcomes based on assessments that are 5 years old and some state are unreliable. They then introduced at additional costs the National Reference Tests to be sat by year 11 Pupils that could be used to "allow" exam boards to increase pass rates if pupils performed at a higher level. In 2018 Ofqual stated

**"In maths, NFER report a statistically significant change, which suggests that student performance has improved slightly."**

National Reference Tests 2018

In the same set of Reports Ofqual published the comparability graded for Maths. This showed that for the two boards with most entries for Maths they exactly equalled the expected outcomes from Key Stage 2.

The progress remained the same and the outcomes only went up by 0.3% not the 2.4% that could have been expected, this equates to 10,329 pupils receiving a grade 3 rather than a grade 4.

The impact on the lives of these pupils is significant. I understand the "second year" effect but at Key Stage 2 in the second year outcomes were increased to reflect this.

The question is whether the millions of pounds being paid to exams boards and our exam board regulators Ofqual is value for money when it does not appear to be delivering a fair system.