‘Small drop’ in GCSE science grades expected

The exams watchdog Ofqual says it expects a “small drop” in grades in some of this year’s GCSE science results. This is from the BBC…

The warning comes in a letter sent to schools in England, setting out plans for changes to GCSEs and A-levels.

The exams have also been taken by students in Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is the first year a new version of GCSEs in biology, chemistry, physics, additional science and additional applied science will be awarded.

The watchdog says the syllabuses and exams for the subjects were changed because they were not tough enough.

“These GCSEs are designed to be more challenging, because the previous syllabuses did not adequately test the subject content and were not sufficiently demanding,” the letter says.

“Although we cannot be sure until results come in, we are expecting a small drop in achievements overall rather than anything more substantial.

“The picture may be different school by school.”

Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents most secondary heads, said it was going to be a “very tough year” for students, especially if grades dropped.

“Students are working harder than ever before and their teachers are working harder than ever to do their best for them,” he said.

“It’s very demoralising for students to be told that the examinations they took were too easy.”

Changes to these science exams were set in motion several years ago, before the election of the coalition government, which has since announced and made widescale changes to the exams system for England.

Education Secretary Michael Gove believed the existing system was not challenging enough and that it encouraged exam boards to “race to the bottom” in terms of standards.

The watchdog’s letter to schools sets out the planned changes and those which are still being consulted on. Ofqual has also set out a timeline to show when the changes are due to come in.

More at:  ‘Small drop’ in GCSE science grades expected

Any thoughts, feedback or comments on this? Is it reasonable to assume that exams need to be re-calibrated from time to time or is Brian Lightman’s argument that any changes are demoralising to students valid?

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  1. TeaLadyJune

    SchoolsImprove Further evidence that they just don’t care about the well-being of our youngsters! This could affect STEM subject uptake!!

  2. TeaLadyJune

    SchoolsImprove Surely exams should only be ‘harder’ when assessment structure changes? Preventing unfair comparisons with previous cohorts.

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