The Change in KS5 Prior Attainment 2019/20 – England

1st July 2019

Introduction

We have made an important change to how we calculate the prior attainment for any student starting Level 3 courses in September 2019.

  • The 9-1 GCSE grades will be assigned the score 9-1 respectively
  • We will be applying the DfE transitional points (8.5-1) to the unreformed GCSE A*-G outcomes. (Note that up to now we had been using Alps points on a scale 8-1.)

Rationale and Implications

In the ‘transitional’ years between the A*-G GCSE suite and the new suite of 9–1 qualifications, Alps has not used DfE transitional A*-G points when calculating GCSE average prior attainment to set the aspirational Minimum Expected Grades (MEGs).

At Alps, we had continued to use the legacy A*- G 8–1 point-scale to calculate MEGs.

Our key driver was that no students who took A Levels up to and including 2018 took any 9-1 GCSEs. Therefore, we were not able to use DfE national data to compare how students with a mix of 9–1 and A*-G qualifications went on to perform at A Level.

Since September 2017, when students in England commenced A Level courses with reformed 9–1 grades in mathematics, English language and English literature, we have scaled those grades back to the 8 1 scale to calculate MEGs for students using the points chart below:

For the 2018 L3VA and Performance Tables VA scores, the DfE took the decision to ‘reflect the point scale used at KS4 in the current reporting year for all students (e.g. for the 2018 L3VA, the scale used for GCSE and other qualifications will be the points used in the 2018 key stage 4 performance tables)’. This meant that every A*-G GCSE taken in 2016 by candidates who went on to take A Levels in 2018 had the transitional point scale applied to their grades retrospectively although none of these students took a single 9–1 GCSE.

Whilst we are not applying transitional points to the A*-G outcomes of the 2019 cohort when evaluating your value-added progress in the 2019 AS and A Level reports, we have made an important change for monitoring current and future Year 12 students’ progress towards their A Levels.

To monitor students’ progress in academic year 2019-20, students starting Year 13 in September 2019 will require a re-calculation of their GCSE score. If your school or college is one of the majority who are now using Connect Interactive, the cohort will need their GCSE average scores to be recalculated before the cohort can be progressed from Year 12 to Year 13 in Connect. The re-calculation will treat 9-1 grades as 9-1 and will apply the DfE transitional points to any A*-G qualifications students took as per table 1 below.

Our data team have now also converted all the 2016 DfE national GCSE grades taken by A Level students in 2018 to the transitional points scale to be able to assess the impact on MEGs. Applying these point scales meant that our prior attainment bands needed recalibrating.

This can be seen in the tables below, comparing MEGs for the 2019 A Level Reports with MEGs for monitoring in 2019-20.

Our data team’s research shows that over 95% of students stay in the equivalent prior attainment band and that over 99% retain the same MEG using the new methodology.

Although a minority of schools are still using AS exams for their Year 12 cohorts we have applied the same methodology to monitoring students at AS from September 2019.

Our strong recommendation is that all schools and colleges use the A Level MEGs from the start of Year 12 as students do not start courses post-16 with the intention of stopping after the end of Year 12.

If you require further information, please contact our Educational Team on 01484 887600 or via info@alps.education.

Sue MacGregor
Alps Director of Education

Need more information?

If you would like any further information, please contact one of our expert advisers.

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