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Research Matters 16


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  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Research Matters 16: June 2013
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2013-06-01) Green, Sylvia
    Research Matters is a free biannual publication which allows Cambridge University Press & Assessment to share its assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community. 
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Early entry GCSE candidates: Do they perform to their potential?
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2013-06-01) Gill, Tim
    A large and increasing number of candidates are certificating for GCSEs at a younger age than scheduled. The scrapping of KS3 tests means schools can now start teaching some GCSE subjects in year 9 and subsequently enter candidates at the end of year 10, or in the winter sessions of year 11. One possible reason for early certification is that candidates can 'bank' a grade in the subject allowing more time in year 11 to concentrate on other subjects. The concern is that many of these candidates are not reaching their potential in the subject because they certificate before they are ready. Furthermore, candidates who certificate early usually then have a break in studying the subject, meaning that they may lose interest or feel less confident that they are prepared for further study (e.g., A levels). Those students who do go on to take the A level in the subject may struggle because of this break. This research explores the extent of early certification, GCSE performance based on certification session and participation and performance in the same (or similar) subject at A level. We found a big increase in early entry for Maths and English GCSE, with early entry students in these subjects less likely to achieve a grade A or better. However, there was no evidence that early entry students were less likely to go on to take an A level in the subject or that they performed less well at A level.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Reaching for the A*: Exploring the extent and effect of resitting at A level
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2013-06-01) Sutch, Tom; Wilson, Frances
    The introduction of Curriculum 2000 changed the traditional linear structure of A levels to a modular structure, and introduced an integrated AS level qualification, comprising half of the modules and set at the standard expected of A level students after one year of study. This reform afforded candidates opportunities to resit individual modules to improve their grades, using the best results obtained in each module to count towards the A level. However, there has been frequent criticism that this has led to a "resit culture", with students resitting modules multiple times until they achieve their desired grade, leading to fears that students may be achieving high grades at A level by resitting. In November 2006 changes to A level specifications were agreed. These changes included the introduction of the new A* grade. This study aimed to compare the resitting patterns of students achieving the new A* grade with less highly achieving students across five contrasting A level subjects. In particular, we investigated two main areas: the extent of resitting across different grades, and the effect of resitting on the final grade and marks.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Comparing progression routes to post-16 Science qualifications
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2013-06-01) Vidal Rodeiro, Carmen
    Awarding bodies in England provide schools and students with a wide choice of level 2 (aimed to 14-16 year-olds) science qualifications designed to ensure that pupils study science that is relevant and up-to-date. However, it has been argued that some courses may not be good preparation for the study of science at a higher level. Consequently some students may decide not to pursue a science subject post-16 or, if they do so, they may drop it or not fulfil their potential. This work aimed to collect detailed information (e.g., prior attainment, level of deprivation and school attended) about the students who obtained different level 2 science qualifications and investigate their uptake of and performance in post-16 science courses.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Comparing difficulty of GCSE tiered examinations using common questions
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2013-06-01) Dhawan, Vikas; Wilson, Frances
    In tiered GCSE examinations the overlapping grades in the two tiers, C and D, are intended to represent the same level of performance, irrespective of the tier on which they may be achieved. A comparison of the performance of candidates at the overlapping grades can be used to maintain standards between the two tiers. One way this can be done is to include questions that are common to both tiers. In this study we investigated the difficulty of the common questions between tiered question papers to gather evidence of whether the tiered papers were functioning as expected or not. We also explored ways in which the analyses could feed into the process of writing questions for tiered examinations and thereby help in improving the current practice of producing such question papers.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Changing times, changing qualifications s
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2013-06-01) Rushton, Nicky
    During recent years there have been many changes in education and assessment in England. Since 2000, curricula have been updated, particular skills have been included then removed from assessment, several new qualifications for students in English secondary schools have been added to the Register of Regulated Qualifications and other qualifications have been withdrawn. When so many changes occur in a short space of time it is difficult to keep track of them, and the time at which they happened. This article tracks some of the changes that have occurred in England since 2000. The article is divided into three sections: qualifications being added and withdrawn from the Register of Regulated Qualifications; changes to GCSEs (including the proposed English Baccalaureate Certificates); and changes to A levels. For each section, a time line is included to provide an overview of the most important dates alongside a summary of the major events associated with each qualification/reform.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    A level reform: Is the Government in tune with its stakeholders?
    (Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment, 2013-06-01) Suto, Irenka; Mehta, Sanjana; Child, Simon; Wilson, Frances; Jeffrey, Elizabeth
    Reformed GCE A levels are on the educational horizon for many students and their teachers. Awarding bodies are in the process of redeveloping their courses and from September 2015, the new syllabuses will be taught in sixth forms across England. In this article, we give a chronological account of the recent developments in Government policy which have fed into these plans. Alongside this account, we describe five studies that we have undertaken within our Higher Education (HE) Engagement research programme. An overarching aim of our research has been to ascertain the views and experiences of stakeholders in schools, colleges and universities on multiple aspects of A level reform.