The curriculum has changed, KS1 and 2 tests have changed, GCSEs have changed. Everything has been thrown up in the air in such a way that comparing present and future outcomes with those of the past is nigh on impossible. So the DfE will face an incredible struggle if it is to convince us that its reforms have improved outcomes. Only by outcomes of international comparisons such as PISA and TIMMS (“over which we have no control” as I’m sure Mr Gove would now say) can we really tell if there has been any change.
But there is another way that we will be able to see if outcomes have improved. Only problem is, you’re not going to like it. Well, I assume you’re not going to like it, as it was one of the reasons given as to why the entire system had to be thrown up in the air in the first place,
Let’s recap. And in terms of outcomes I’m going to take GCSEs as my anchor. Next year the first cohort to take the new GCSE Maths will get their results. They will have been studying the new curriculum for two years. Lets say the average student gets a grade 4. Remember, the poor students taking these new exams next year would have had to suffer for the first nine years of their schooling based on the terrible, rubbish zero knowledge old curriculum where they only learnt what they were shown by the cover teacher on that weeks DVD (yes, of course I’m bloody well exaggerating for effect).
Now, a current year 2 student, who will take their GCSEs in 2025 (I think) will have had 11 whole years of a knowledge rich, proper education, with facts and stuff. They will be able to spell every word in the OED whilst at the same time reciting the times tables from one to eighty-seven. Backwards. Their grammar will be markedly better than anything you’ll find on this blog.
Consequently, the average current year 2 student, because they have had a much better education will clearly get a better grade in 2025 than the current year 10 student will get next year. That surely stands to reason? And to varying degrees so will all the students in the year groups in between. Otherwise, what was the point of the changes?
Whilst this scenario is not possible under the dead hand of comparable outcomes, when the National Reference Test takes over it is what will happen. Or should be if Ofqual do the job right.
So the way that we will see improvement is because the numbers of students getting higher grades will inflate. We could call this phenomenon “Outcome Increase”, or some other easily remembered phrase that denotes the inflationary effects better learning has on grades over time.
I for one am certainly looking forward to all the proponents of the massive upheaval we have seen celebrating high levels of Outcome Increase over the coming years.