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Beware PiXL on the new GCSE grade boundaries!

There has been quite a lot of uncertainty as teachers have marked Year 10 end-of-year English exams.  How do we award grades when the new grade boundaries aren’t known?  The GCSE Boards can’t help with this and some schools have created their own matrices, trying to calculate progress from the KS2 tests.

PiXL hasn’t helped by coming up with the following:

9 = 95%
8 = 83%
7 = 75%
6 = 70%
5 = 65%
4 = 60%
3 = 40%
2 = 28%
1 = 15%

This is obviously nonsensical as grade 3 covers 20 marks and grades 4, 5 and 6 cover 5 marks each.  No mark scheme has ever been as unequal as this. Ofqual’s guidance also shows these marks are pitched too low.

We have used Ofqual’s guidance to calculate the likely new grade boundaries – see New GCSE grade boundaries [PDF document].  This also shows how the grade boundaries for new grade 5 will be higher than for C.

PiXL tries to be helpful by sharing ways of improving exam outcomes, but sadly it doesn’t address the central issue – how to improve teaching and learning in ways that the new specs require.  For English, students will need to be able to recognise and write confidently about literary features like structure, pace, tone, irony, bathos, etc.  They will only be able to do this with appropriate teaching and PiXL doesn’t help with this.  For further information about what does work, see Really raising standards in GCSE English summary [PDF document] and Really raising standards in GCSE English full version [PDF document].