Handy Guide to Key Stage 4 performance measures
There are significant changes ahead for school performance measures, both at Key Stage 4 and at 16-19. This guide focuses on the Key Stage 4 changes, while a separate guide explains the changes for 16-19 students.
Over recent years an increasing amount of data have been published to report on school performance. The most important of these are designated ‘headline measures’, and within these measures one is used to set a minimum standard of performance or ‘floor target’.
The key principles that apply at Key Stage 4 are:
- All full-course GCSEs are eligible to be included in performance measures.
- A maximum number of approved non-GCSE qualifications can be included; DfE publishes an annual list of those which meet their criteria. In 2016 and 2017 up to three such qualifications can be counted.
- All eligible qualifications are counted as equivalent to one GCSE, regardless of their size.
- Most Level 1/2 Certificates count as GCSEs (until the new 9-1 GCSEs are introduced). However, a few are treated as non-GCSEs – please refer to the lists mentioned above.
- Unaccredited IGCSEs or International GCSEs are not eligible for inclusion.
- AS levels are eligible for inclusion, but not A levels.
- All qualifications are allocated a discount code; if qualifications share a discount code only one of the results can be included. In some subjects such as science, mathematics and English there are additional discounting rules – guidance on discounting can be found in the RAISEonline document library.
- A ‘first entry’ rule applies across all qualifications; if a student has more than one result for qualifications that discount, then it is the result of the first qualification taken that will be used. Further guidance has been published by DfE.
In 2016 a new set of headline measures is introduced. The measure on which the floor standard is based will be Progress 8. This reports on the relative progress made by students between the ages of 11 and 16. A school’s Progress 8 score is derived by first calculating another new headline measure – Attainment 8.
Attainment 8 reports on the achievement of students across a defined basket of 8 qualifications. The 8 qualifications must include GCSEs, Level 1/2 Certificates or AS levels in mathematics and either English language or literature (or, in 2016 only, GCSE English). The points for mathematics are double weighted, as are the points for the better English result if both qualifications have been taken. (For 2016 only, points will automatically be doubled for students taking GCSE English.) This is both to reflect their importance and to encourage maximum achievement.
There must also be any 3 of the subjects that count towards the EBacc measure (see the section on headline measures in 2015). The other 3 slots making up the 8 can be any qualifications (GCSE or vocational) that are eligible for performance measures. (The second English result can count in this group if it is good enough.) Each result is given a point score, and the average attainment is calculated by dividing by 10 (it is 10 rather than 8 to reflect the double weighting for English and mathematics).
The table in Figure 1 gives points for current GCSEs and BTEC Firsts as they will be used in 2016, and how this will change from 2017 when new GCSE 9-1 qualifications are introduced. GCSE 9-1 qualifications will have a simple ‘point per grade’ scale, with grade 9 being worth 9 points, grade 8 worth 8 points and so on.
|GCSE (BTEC) grade||2016 points||2017 points|
|(BTEC L1 Pass)||2.5||1.75|
Figure 1 – Performance table points
You'll note from this table that during the transition years 2017 and 2018 the points differential between grades is changed. In 2016 each GCSE letter grade is one point apart. In 2017 and 2018, higher grades (A*, A and B) are 1.5 points apart, while the lowest grades (G, F and E) are only half a point apart.
These points can be used to work out the Attainment 8 score for a hypothetical student in summer 2016:
|Average attainment||6.3 (B+)|
Figure 2 – Calculating a student’s Attainment 8 score in 2016
The points for this student have been calculated as follows:
- the points for English literature and mathematics have been double weighted
- Geography, science and additional science are included to meet the requirements of the EBacc group
- the best ‘other’ qualification results are BTEC Business, English language and religious studies
- the results for Art and BTEC Sport are not needed for this measure
- the total point score of 63 is divided by 10 to get an average. 6.3 points is a little better than a grade B, so would be reported as B+.
indicate whether their progress has been in line with the national average, above it or below.
- the percentage achieving a C grade or better in English and mathematics. From 2017 this becomes the percentage obtaining grade 5 or better
- the percentage achieving the English Baccalaureate (see the section on headline measures in 2015)
- the percentage entering the English Baccalaureate
- the percentage of students staying in education or employment for at least two terms following key stage 4.
What if a student takes fewer than 8 qualifications?
What happens to results achieved early when the new GCSEs come in?
Some students are ready to take GCSEs or equivalent qualifications before the summer of the year in which they turn 16. These results are not reported in the year they are achieved, but are carried forward and included when the student reaches 16.
In the transition from current A*-G GCSEs to the new 9-1 GCSEs, specific rules apply:
- No GCSE A*-G English or mathematics results can be carried forward; from summer 2017 the only GCSE results which will be eligible will be from the reformed 9-1 qualifications. The biggest risk here is for schools where students take English GCSEs in successive years – for example English literature in Y10 and English language in Y11. Students who start Y10 in September 2015 would take the current (A*-G) GCSE in 2016 and the reformed (9-1) GCSE in 2017. In this case, and for this year only, the English literature result from Y10 would not be eligible for performance tables, and the requirements of the EBacc measure would not be met.
- DfE originally announced that results of all other GCSE subjects could be carried forward. This has now changed (16 June 2015), and once the new 9-1 version is introduced A*- G results cease to be eligible. This means that for all subjects with 9-1 GCSEs starting in September 2016, the last assessment of the A*-G versions will be in summer 2017, and that is the last year that those results will be eligible for performance tables.
- The same rule applies to results for Level 1/2 Certificates (sometimes referred to as accredited IGCSEs). Like A*-G GCSEs, results cannot be carried forward in any subject once the 9-1 GCSE in that subject is available.
- AS results remain valid as an alternative to GCSE results.
DfE has announced that guidance will be reviewed before March 2016 in relation to Progress 8 for 2018.
Progress 8 measure in 2016, 2017 and 2018; Guide for maintained secondary schools, academies and free schools – Department for Education, July 2016
Discounting and Early Entry Guidance – Department for Education, January 2015
Reforming the accountability system for secondary schools – Department for Education, October 2013
List of qualifications that count in the EBacc – Department for Education, August 2016
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Version 1.3 - The information on this page, and in the PDF below, was last updated 22 August 2016.