GCSEs: Half of students get ‘strong passes’ in three Rs

Teacher assessment used for GCSE grading in 2020 led to higher outcomes for students, government data shows
26th November 2020, 10:36am

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GCSEs: Half of students get ‘strong passes’ in three Rs

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/gcses-half-students-get-strong-passes-three-rs
Gcses 2020: Almost Half Of Students Got 'strong Passes' In The Three Rs

Nearly half of all students achieved a grade 5 or above in English and maths GCSE in 2020, according to new government data on exam results.

The proportion of students achieving a grade 5 or above in both English and maths increased from 43.2 per cent in 2019 to 49.9 per cent in 2020.


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Grade 5 is seen as a "strong pass" and is roughly equivalent to a low B or high C grade in pre-reformed GCSEs.

GCSEs 2020: Increase in 'strong passes'

The 6.7 percentage point increase contrasts with a decrease of 0.1 percentage points between 2017-18 and 2018-19. 

"The increase is a consequence of the way GCSE grades were awarded in 2020 and the higher proportion of entries graded at 5 and above," a government statement said. 

In 2020, most students were awarded their teacher-assessed grades in subjects following the government's U-turn over grading.

The government also found that 61.5 per cent of English language GCSE entries were graded at 5 and above compared with 53.4 per cent in 2019.

And 62.3 per cent of English literature GCSE entries were graded at 5 and above compared with 57.1 per cent in 2019.

In maths, 57.5 per cent of GCSE entries were graded at 5 and above (it was 50.1 per cent in 2019).

Higher-attaining students also did better in their GCSEs in 2020 than in 2019.

In 2020, 83.5 per cent of students with high prior attainment achieved a grade 5 or above in English and maths, up from 76.5 per cent the previous year.

Students with middle prior attainment also improved their performance in 2020, with 31.4 per cent achieving a grade 5 or higher in English and maths, up from 22.4 per cent the previous year. 

And for students with low prior attainment, 2.7 per cent achieved a grade 5 or higher in English and maths compared with 1.9 per cent in 2019. 

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