Additional thoughts about Progress 8

This is very quick thought about this post from @dataeducator yesterday. An excellent post highlighting a real issue. It included the following table and pointed out the possibilities for ‘gaming’ of outcomes in 2017.


Read the post to understand how this can occur.

Now there are always going to be issues in the transition period between systems, and the lack of comparability between the two systems has been flagged up many times previously. However, seeing the table and the comments from @dataeducator made me think about the system going forward. Generally I prefer Progress8 to the current system. It is better in that it attempts to remove the focus from the C/D borderline.

But there is one problem that the table brings nicely into focus.

So here’s the problem.

There are two ways to move 3 points up the table.

You can go from Grade G to Grade C, or

You can go from Grade B to Grade A*.

So you can move up 4 ‘old’ grades’ or you can move up 2 ‘old’ grades, both of which will move you up 3 ‘new’ grades.

This disparity will still exist after all GCSEs are converted to grades 1 to 9.

In many years time, when everyone is just thinking in terms of grades 1 to 9, then there will be less of a problem, but humans, being creatures of habit, tend not to do that. I mean, how many of those of us of a certain age still mentally convert back into pounds, shillings and pence?

Now, this is only a problem if the gap between grade D and C, for example, is of similar size (in terms of academic effort to cross) as the gap between grade B and A, say. I suspect that most people assume that it is.

So if  as a school you are looking to improve your Progress8 score then it is true, that each 1 point each student moves in each subject has the same value.

But I’m not sure it’s true to say that each 1 point requires the same expenditure of effort (from both students and teachers) to achieve, so schools will still, long after grades A* to G have gone, have complex decisions to make about where that effort will be applied.