Predicting A-level grades accurately ‘near-impossible task’

Predicting A-level grades is a “close to-not possible undertaking,” and the program requires to be overhauled to cut down inaccuracies that can guide to unfair shortcomings for some pupils, claims new study from the UCL Institute of Education and learning.


For the operating paper posted today, teachers from UCL Centre for Education and learning Policy & Equalizing Prospects (CEPEO) and Oxford Brookes Business University examined knowledge from 238,898 pupils’ GCSE functionality to see irrespective of whether they could correctly predict their subsequent A-level benefits.

For the to start with time, they discovered that even by eradicating any option for bias—and managing more checks on pupils’ gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status—they could only predict a person in four pupils’ most effective three A-levels appropriately.

The scientists say the disruption COVID-19 has introduced on formal exams this year—with pupils as a substitute assigned calculated grades by their instructors, which are then moderated by test boards—highlights a wider dilemma with the normal British isles program.

The paper also exhibits that higher-attaining comprehensive college pupils are extra probably to be underneath-predicted in contrast to their grammar and personal college counterparts.

Between higher achievers, the place underneath-prediction is most frequent, the workforce discovered 23% of comprehensive college pupils were underpredicted by two or extra grades in contrast to just 11% of grammar and personal college pupils.

One particular of the paper’s authors, and CEPEO Director, Professor Lindsey Macmillan (UCL Institute of Education and learning), explained: “This study raises the question of why we use predicted grades at these kinds of a important element of our education program. This is not teachers’ fault—it’s a close to-not possible undertaking. Most worryingly there are implications for fairness, as pupils in comprehensives are harder to predict. Our get the job done exhibits that these pupils have extra noisy trajectories from GCSE to A-level. If you happen to be a straight-A pupil at a grammar or personal college, you happen to be extra probably to continue that to A-levels. But this study is telling us there’s a ton extra movement about the grades between the two test levels for comprehensive pupils.”

Trainer predictions of pupil grades are a elementary characteristic of the English education program, forming the foundation of students’ college programs and figuring out the wider existence probabilities of pupils in write-up-secondary education.

Study by a person of the authors, CEPEO Deputy Director Dr. Gill Wyness (UCL Institute of Education and learning), previously this year confirmed that only sixteen% of college applicants were appropriately predicted across their most effective three A-levels, when evaluating teachers’ predictions to students’ actual grades. Of the rest, seventy five% were overpredicted and just 8% underpredicted.

The exact study discovered that the grades of higher-attaining pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds were extra probably to be underpredicted.

For this operating paper, the scientists used statistical and equipment finding out approaches to review detailed administrative knowledge on prior achievement as well as demographic and college-level information and facts.

They discovered their modeling only manufactured modest improvements to the accuracy of teacher predictions, expanding the good results fee from a person in 5 to a person in four pupils’ grades appropriately predicted.

Predictions were improved by including knowledge on ‘related’ GCSEs—those A-level topics that have an equivalent GCSE—showing that test topics them selves want to be taken into account alongside pupil achievement and college form.

Maths was less complicated to predict between higher achievers than other topics these kinds of as record and chemistry, but for average and low achievers, the reverse was true.

English Literature was most correctly predicted across all achievement levels, even though Law predictions were the least precise.

For topics without the need of linked GCSEs, the undertaking was even extra difficult, with decreased prediction fees across the board.

The scientists say only going in direction of a write-up-qualification programs and admissions (PQA) program would aid eliminate likely inequalities.

Co-creator Dr. Wyness explained: “We certainly really don’t assume teacher predictions really should be replaced by pc predictions—this study serves to spotlight the difficulty confronted by instructors, and offers further evidence that the UK’s predicted grades program really should be re-examined.”

The study was primarily based on National Pupil Database documents for a cohort of state and privately educated pupils who took their A-levels in 2008.


Disadvantaged pupils could be unfairly penalised by working with predicted grades during pandemic, qualified warns


Far more information and facts:
Grade Expectations: How well can we predict potential grades primarily based on earlier functionality? econpapers.repec.org/paper/uclcepeow/twenty-14.htm

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Predicting A-level grades correctly ‘near-not possible task’ (2020, August 12)
retrieved 12 August 2020
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