Alps Minimum Target Grades

15th May 2017

Alps minimum target grades are aspirational; in order to achieve them students need to match the performance of students in the top 25% of providers nationally.

The full national dataset at AS/A level and BTEC is used to identify the results being achieved by students of differing prior attainment in the top 25% of schools and colleges. This informs the setting of an aspirational target for each prior attainment band; after all, if the top providers are delivering these outcomes, why can’t we?

A key word in the definition of Alps targets is ‘minimum’. The Alps target is aspirational but does not mean that it cannot be exceeded and, every year, many students perform exceptionally well and beat their Alps targets. It is therefore important that students do not feel that the Alps minimum target is a ‘glass ceiling’ and, given hard work, application and good study skills, there is no reason why the target cannot be exceeded. A quick look at the student performance pages in an A level report usually reveals some excellent case studies of past students who have beaten Alps targets. Tell their story to inspire the next cohort of students. Students don’t usually need prompting to be aspirational in agreeing targets. They all desire to do well but do not all have the study skills and work habits needed to achieve very ambitious targets. It is important that we support students throughout their course and intervene in a timely fashion if a student is falling behind their target.

An advantage of setting the Alps target as a minimum expectation is that we can then routinely monitor classwork and progress grades against the target and swiftly intervene if a student falls below target. We can also give praise and encouragement to students who are on track to meet or exceed targets.

Some Alps targets are presented as split grades e.g. a student with an average GCSE score of 6.1 (46.6 QCA points) will have an Alps target of B/C. Many providers automatically set the higher grade. Setting aspirational targets is to be encouraged and we believe they are more likely to be achieved if good support mechanisms are in place and the more aspirational a target is the more effective the support needs to be.

Schools and colleges adopt the Alps methodology in a way that maximises benefit for their students. Different providers approach target setting in different ways, but ensuring that we all treat the Alps target as a minimum that can be negotiated up but not down can ultimately benefit all learners through setting truly aspirational targets.


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