Grade predictions analysis should ‘give confidence’

2020-04-07

An analysis of predicted GCSE grades from 2019 shows that the majority were within one grade of being correct, which should give confidence in the process it has been claimed.


Amid plans for secondary teachers to predict grades to replace exams cancelled this summer, an analysis from Data Educator of more than 19,000 predicted grades revealed that 84.6% were either right or within one grade of being right.


The results should be seen as a vote of confidence in the ability of secondary teachers to predict grades, according to Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) union.


He said it should “give everybody confidence that predicted grades are generally close to the actual results”.


The grades analysis

Of the 19,029 predicted grades from 22 different subjects, pupils achieved those grades in 40% of cases.


Meanwhile of the 60% of incorrect predictions, 31% were found to be too positive, while 29% were too negative.


However, variability in results was found between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils, as well as between those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and those without.


Subject variations existed too, with maths having a far higher accuracy rate of 53.8% compared to other subjects – partly as its tiered nature offers maths teacher fewer predicted grades to pick from.


Moderation and predictions

Mr Barton added that it’s important to recognise that the new system is not just a singular prediction of a potential exam result.


“What matters is that teachers can rank pupils, research suggests that teachers can do this with reasonable accuracy,” he explained.


“There will be an external moderation process which will bring grades into line with what would be expected. This will ensure consistency and fairness for students.”


One in five of GCSE grades that were challenged in 2019 was changed, showing that examiner-assessed grades also provide challenges.


David Weston, chief executive of the teacher development trust, added that while the suggested approach from Ofqual is flawed, it appears “less flawed than other options” which are available.


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