GCSE: Higher level content

Reformed GCSE subject content includes three types of content: standard, underlined and bold. In the words of he document,

The expectation is that:

  • All students will develop confidence and competence with the content identified by standard type
  • All students will be assessed on the content identified by the standard and the underlined [here, for technical reasons, emphasised -- AB] type; more highly attaining students will develop confidence and competence with all of this content
  • Only the more highly attaining students will be assessed on the content identified by bold type. The highest attaining students will develop confidence and competence with the bold content.

The distinction between standard, underlined and bold type applies to the content statements only, not to the assessment objectives or to the mathematical formulae in the appendix.

What follows is the list of items in the  Mathematics GCSE subject content and assessment objectives which contain bold type, higher content.I think this short lists clearly marks the boundaries of GCSE — AB

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Reformed GCSE subject content consultation – Government response

From the Department for Education:

Following the GCSE subject content consultation that closed on 20 August 2013, the Secretary of State has today published revised subject content for English language, English literature and mathematics, as well as the Government’s response to the consultation. The Secretary of State has also made a Written Ministerial Statement, which can be read here.

Ofqual has also published reforms to the design requirements for new GCSEs, including on arrangements for controlled assessment, tiering and new grading. Its summary of these reforms can be found here.

GCSE and A-level reforms timetable delayed

Ofqual has published an exchange of letters with the Secretary of State about the next  steps for A level and GCSE reform. In short, Glenys Stacey, Ofqual’s chief regulator, told the education secretary that new A-level examinations in Mathematics and Further Mathematics would not be ready until 2016.Regarding GCSEs, she wrote:
It is clear that the amount of work needed on GCSEs, including the development of strengthened regulator arrangements, means we cannot be confident that new, high-quality GCSEs in all subjects could be ready in good time for first teaching from 2015″ …
We have therefore decided that we should focus the GCSE reform programme initially on English language, English literature and mathematics, which are the subjects where there are the biggest concerns.

Ofqual has also published the report by Professor Mark Smith on the exam boards’ subject-by-subject review of A level content requirement:

GCSE reform announcement

From the official announcement:

In February, the Secretary of State announced plans for the comprehensive reform of GCSEs, so that young people have access to qualifications which match and exceed those of the highest performing jurisdictions.

The Department is now seeking views on proposed subject content and assessment objectives for new GCSEs. Proposed subject content for reformed GCSEs in English language, English literature, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, combined science (double award), history, geography, modern languages and ancient languages, as well as the Reformed GCSE Subject Content Consultation document are available here on the Department’s website. The consultation will run from 11 June until 22 August. We would very much welcome your views.

In parallel with this consultation Ofqual are consulting on the revised regulatory requirements for the reformed GCSEs. The Ofqual consultation will be available here.

Gove reveals rethink on grades in new GCSE

From The Independent (not in Hansard yet):

[Mr Gove, speaking to Education Select Committee on 15 May) indicated he was]

planning to scrap the present grading system entirely and replace A* and A grade passes with a one, two, three or four pass. [...]

He said it could well be the case that the “band of achievement that is currently A* and A” was replaced by a new one, two, three or four pass. The new-style GCSEs will start to be taught in schools in September 2015.

Graham Stuart, the Conservative chairman of the committee, also argued that Mr Gove could be “deliberately” paving the way for “grade deflation” in the exam system through the changes.

He said that the pass rate could also go down in the first year of pupils sitting the new exam (2017) – “because schools don’t know how to work the system”.

Students who previously were awarded an A grade pass could be awarded a four  under the new system (a one or two would be roughly equivalent to an A* while three or four would equate to an A grade). Academics argue a four would not be seen by employers and universities as a top grade pass.  Numbers are likely to replace grades throughout the system so instead of A* to G grade passes students would be awarded one to 10 passes.

However, Mr Gove replied that that the current exam system meant teachers were spending “too much time on exam technique and not enough on content”.

 

 

National Curriculum Consultation, KS 1-3

National Curriculum Consultation, KS 1-3, announced today. Closing date: Tuesday 16 April 2013

Published for information only:

From other news:

The Education Secretary has dropped proposals to replace existing exams with new English Baccalaureate Certificates as part of a compromise deal between the Coalition parties, it emerged.

A move to axe competition between exam boards – forcing each body to bid for a “franchise” to run one subject – has also been abandoned amid fears it will fall foul of EU procurement laws.

Curriculum, exam and accountability reform: Michael Gove’s Oral Statement in the Parliament.

New exams without trials?

From The Guardian:

Education Guardian has learned that Ofqual, the exams regulator, has quietly abandoned a promise to ensure that all major exam reforms are piloted in advance. This means that the next big set of changes – the much-discussed introduction of English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs) to replace GCSEs, initially in

English, maths and science, from 2015 – are likely to go ahead without any conventional pre-trials.

Read the full article.

Key Stage 4 qualification reform – Secretary of State’s announcement

From DfE:

In the core academic subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate – English, mathematics, sciences, history, geography and languages – the Government intends to replace current GCSE with new qualifications, to be called “English Baccalaureate Certificates”.  The Government will be moving away from the competition between Awarding Organisations to sell their qualifications in these subjects.  Instead of schools choosing between a number of competing GCSEs in these subjects, a competition will be held to identify a single suite of qualifications, offered by a single Awarding Organisation in each subject, for a period of five years.

 A public consultation on these reforms has been launched, which will run until 10th December.  This can be accessed [here].

Click here for quotes from the Consultation Document:

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No A* grades, endless re-sits or marks for coursework?

From Daily Mail:

Michael Gove is to herald an end to a quarter of a century of ‘dumbed-down’ exams this week when he abolishes GCSEs and brings back a tough new O-level style system.

The Education Secretary will announce the new exams on Tuesday in a joint press conference with Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg [...]

Under Mr Gove’s shake-up, the

current system whereby nearly three in ten pupils get A or A* grades will go. Instead as few as one in ten will get the top mark, Grade 1. [...]

Marks will depend on a traditional ‘all or nothing’ three-hour exam at the end of the two-year course [...]

[...] questions in the new exam will be graded, starting with easy questions and building up to difficult questions which will stretch the cleverest pupils.

It means that less able pupils may be unable to complete the paper.[...]

In addition, the new exams will be run by a single exam board following complaints that competition between rival boards is driving down standards. Read more.

And from BBC:

But pupils will not start studying for it until September 2015, after the next general election. The first exams would be taken in 2017.