A level results – A period of stability?

Josh and Laura speaking to the BBC about their successful A level results

Josh and Laura speaking to the BBC about their successful A level results

It was interesting to read in Schools week that according to JCQ and Ofqual A level exams and results are in a period of stability.

The Director General of the Joint Council for Qualifications, Michael Turner said: “Today we should celebrate the excellent achievements of students and teachers across the country and congratulate them on their efforts.

The overriding message from this year’s figures is one of stability. There have been no significant changes to the system, results are stable, and entries followed expected patterns.”

So why didn’t it feel like that to me and other in the profession? Could it be because the top grades were down? No I don’t think so in fact as a school we increased and at the moment it hasn’t had an impact. Could it be because there are more University places?

Perhaps I was just feeling the ‘normal’ nervousness you would expect from a professional, conscientious teacher or senior leader. Just as described beautifully as always in Tom Bennett’s @tombennett71 post this week about A level results, he focused on the ‘cocktail of anxiety and optimism’ when referring to the performance of your own students and the difference in approach between GCSE’s and A levels.

However in recent years my cocktail of anxiety is composed of different ingredients, I am less nervous of this and much more apprehensive about our wider assessment system following the destruction and turmoil caused by the #examfiasco. This recent experience still scars the profession even those of us who are extremely optimistic and want to move on are left feeling cold and insecure, are the results that we are seeing on the print outs and on the faces of the young people we care so much about fair and reliable?

On a whole school scale at a quick glance there doesn’t appear to be any alarming results however there is still a real lack of confidence and trust in what we are seeing. Yesterday there were several examples of shortcomings from an expensive service that we pay from the exam boards. Admin mistakes, missing scripts etc that are automatically the school or students fault, they couldn’t possibly be the exam boards. The outcome is that this uncertainty while it is being investigated is passed on to the young person opening the envelope. Even in the event that the school may have responded to the board with the evidence two months ago that it is actually the fault of the exam board which they don’t appear to be able to be rectify in time for results day.This really grates especially when the school is expected to turn things around so quickly hoping that it will be resolved in time to not add to the pressures of the young person receiving the results. The ultimate consolation being that it will be resolved and it will mean a positive result for the student and school just not in time for results day. I am sorry but this just isn’t good enough.

What young people deserve and those that surround them who work tirelessly to support them and inevitably are the ones that have to pick up the pieces is more transparency in the assessment system, a rapid improvement in the quality of marking and like anything in life real value for money. When we have that then we will believe things are stable.

However despite this, as a professional on A level results day like every other day in school the focus has to be the young people. Putting these feelings aside it was fantastic to see so many happy faces and such a strong sense of community and support from peers, staff and parents. What it is and should always be is a day of celebration of all the hard work and commitment over the last two years and a time to move onto exciting new adventures.

So yes perhaps this year there haven’t been any more radical changes but in all honesty I still feel a volatility and unpredictability about A level results day.

Don’t worry though at least we have the more ‘stable’ GCSE results to look forward to next week.

Our A level results at DHSB

Identical twins get identical results

BBC News at DHSB – 6 minutes 50 seconds in (only available for a short period of time on Iplayer)


on “A level results – A period of stability?
2 Comments on “A level results – A period of stability?
  1. My issues the day after results day are ….

    Grade boundaries going up by about a grade on two modules out of four on the A Level I teach. That makes a mockery of the process of setting meaningful assessment tasks for students where marks are set against previous grade boundaries.

    I do not have question by question marks for one module from the awarding body yet. The marks awarded for each assessment objective on a long answer on another module are missing from the post-results information. This is preventing me from doing a full analysis of student performance and advising students about resits.

    I suspect that the awarding body for my A Level prioritises reliability over validity. It has established procedures which mean that scripts sent for re-marking will come back with the same mark. This is at the expense of enabling students to be credited for exploring the subject in thoughtful and intelligent ways which reflect current trends in the subject. I suspect that students get low marks for writing answers which are valid but which do not fall into the list of routine answers which appear on the examiners’ markscheme.

    My subject has a new specification for September. There are some promising signs that issues are being addressed. I agree with Dan that we need better value from the assessment system.

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