From September 2016 schools have new accountability measures.
Progress 8 replaces the five A*-C GCSEs including maths and English. This will be a value added measure, whereby student’s results are compared to the actual achievements of other students with the same prior attainment at the end of primary school (KS2). This will be set alongside another accountability measure known as Attainment 8 which measures a student’s average grade across eight subjects.
The Department for Education (DfE) have stated that Progress 8 will benefit students with SEND as it encourages schools to offer a broad curriculum with an academic core. In addition, the information published in a school’s performance measure will give a more holistic view of the achievements of all students as, in theory, it records progress over time.
Before determining if this will be the case it is necessary to see how Progress 8 is calculated.
The eight qualifications that count towards the Attainment 8 measure must fall into one of three ‘buckets’. The second bucket contains the English Baccalaureate subjects (EBacc). This is part of performance indicators that schools are now judged on and is a move away from just A*-C in GCSE. If a qualification does not fall into one of these buckets, it is not counted in the Attainment 8 (or Progress 8) measure
The table below is based on 2013 estimates for the start of Progress 8 measures. These will change from year to year as they are calculated or standardised on national average performances of students at the end of KS2. However, it is worth noting that these are based on teachers’ assessments.
The following is an example from the National Association of Head Teachers presentation on Progress 8:
Sonya achieved a KS2 average grade of 4.7. According to the 2013 attainment estimates she is expected to achieve an Attainment 8 grade of 49 (or 4.9).
Sonya’s Attainment 8 outcomes. The numbers next to the grades reflect the new grading system for 2016.
|Subject||Result||Double Weighted?||Bucket (no.)||Total|
|English Literature||E (3)||No||English (1)||3|
|Maths||C (5)||Yes||Maths (1)||10|
|BTEC First Award in Hospitality||Merit (6)||No||Other (3)||6|
|Cambridge National Certificate in ICT||Pass (5)||No||Other (3)||5|
|PE||C (5)||No||Other (3)||5|
|Music||D (4)||N/A (all “other” slots filled and not in (2))
|Art||D (4)||No||N/A (all “other” slots filled (and not in (2))||0|
|Cambridge National Certificate in Business and Enterprise||C (5)||No||N/A (all “other” slots filled and not in (2))||0|
A number of her qualifications did not count in the Attainment 8 measures, leaving her with an actual score of 2.9 (Total of 29 divided by 10).
Sonya did seem to have a broad and balanced curriculum. Unfortunately, many of these subjects did not count towards her final Progress 8 score. In relation to her Attainment 8 score, only the subjects that score points (as per the table above) will count. Obviously, this is a fictional case study. We would need to consider other factors such as whether she needed and received access arrangements for her exams.
The school’s Progress 8 score will be the mean average of all students’ Progress 8 scores. It is calculated by adding each individual student’s Progress 8 score, and then dividing this total by the number of students in the year group. Schools will therefore aim for as many higher Progress 8 scores as possible to ensure they do not fall below the national average. This will apply to the Attainment 8 results too, on which schools will be judged.
There are valid concerns that Progress 8 and the emphasis on the English Baccalaureate will have a negative impact on an inclusive curriculum. Students may be pressured into taking subjects they have little, or no aptitude for, or interest in. Head teachers may have to focus on ensuring Progress 8 measures are met rather than providing a personalised Key Stage 4 offer for students that are better suited to more vocational subjects.
It is early days. Progress 8 and the outcomes for all of our young people have not been put to the test yet. However, we need to ensure that we keep a close eye on any further decision making that may be detrimental to inclusive practice in that it narrows a school’s capacity or motivation to deliver a truly broad and balanced curriculum.