A Year Of Disruptions
2020-21 was another year of disruption for tutors and learners alike. Testing was able to continue in various formats throughout the year, using a number of adaptations such as Remote Invigilation, employer invigilation and a much greater use of online tools such as Teams and Zoom for Speaking, Listening and Communicating. The disruption, however, did have an effect on the number of assessments taken and on the pass rates for those assessments.
How Pearson Works Out Pass Rates
Pearson presents its pass rates a little differently to how a provider may do it. For us the pass rate is a simple number of passes as a percentage of the number of tests taken. For many providers it is the number of passes as a percentage of the number of learners. These are not necessarily the same thing, especially when resits are factored in. As an example, albeit an extreme, impossible one, if a learner takes 100 tests and passes on test 100, the pass rate Pearson will provide is 1% and the pass rate the provider has is 100%. Please bear this in mind when looking at pass rates.
Entry Level Assessments and Speaking, Listening and Communicating
Pearson does not report pass rates for Entry Level learners as these are all internally assessed. For these learners we only see the claims for success and not the other attempts a learner might have had.
Pass Rate By Assessment Type
Pearson offers its Level 1 and 2 maths, reading and writing assessments both onscreen and paper based. One question I am commonly asked is whether one assessment type has a higher pass rate. In reality, the pass rates for onscreen and paper-based assessments are very similar with no clear trend as to whether any assessment type has a higher pass rate. We should also take into account, when looking at the results, the learner types (age, gender and type of learning provision) which take these assessments. Learners in work-based learning are more likely to take an onscreen assessment than a paper-based one and this could have an effect on the pass rates.
Pearson’s Pass Rates
Below are Pearson’s overall pass rates. These are for all learners and are not filtered for age, gender or provider type.
What is striking about these figures is two things: the vast difference between first time pass rates and overall pass rates; and the difference between pass rates for maths and English.
First Time vs Overall Pass Rates
The key thing to understand is that many learners are taking assessments more than once or twice and are not necessarily successful. This links back to the section on how Pearson presents our pass rates. Taking maths Level 1 as an example, 40% of all the learners taking a test pass first time. The overall pass rate is less because the learners who fail first time (according to the data), tend to fail again, second time. I do recommend spending time with learners who have failed looking at the coverage and range points they had less success on prior to any resit. This information can be found on ResultsPlus.
If ResultsPlus shows that a learner achieved less than 30% on their assessment, I do recommend spending more time with these learners, wherever possible to facilitate their success.
English vs Maths Pass Rates
The key difference between English and maths is the knowledge needed to be successful in the assessment. In a reading test for example, for all intents and purposes, all the answers are there, on the page, the learners just need to find them. With maths, however, the learners need to know more. For example, if there is a Level 1 question on area of a rectangle and the learner does not know how to work that out, there is nothing on the paper that will help them. This “knowledge gap” has been exacerbated by the reform which has introduced more content into Level 1 and 2 maths, outlined in this document: Mathematics - Content mapping (PDF).
This difference between English and maths results is also seen in post 16 GCSE resits too.
Pass Rates by Provider Type
Below is a graph showing the pass rates by provider type: