A-levels mess

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Little waster
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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:12 pm

Kenneth Baker, who was a Conservative education secretary under Margaret Thatcher, urged Williamson to instruct Ofqual not to release the GCSEs results this Thursday. “The A-level results have produced hundreds of thousands of unfair and barely explicable downgrades,” he said. “They have helped smaller private schools but hit the brighter students in a poorly performing state school.”
Not someone who I’ve ever had a lot of time for, which goes to show how bad things are that we look back to the likes of Baker as a golden age of minimally-competent Tory maladministration*, but he makes a good point.

There isn’t really the time pressures on GCSE results that there were with A-Levels so they may as well take another a week or so to try and sort it out. As it is dropping the results on Thursday is just going to plunge the schools and GCSE students into the same sort of limbo the universities and A-Level students are with no real clarity on whether the grades awarded will stand or what the results of the incoming cohort actually will be.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... ls-process

*so bad in fact the Tories put themselves out of power for a generation.
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Re: mess

Post by FlammableFlower » Sun Aug 16, 2020 5:55 pm


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Re: mess

Post by Allo V Psycho » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:34 pm

mediocrity511 wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 1:13 pm
Allo V Psycho wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:30 pm
There is a fairly common psychometric problem at the root of this: that of the distinction between populations and individuals.

Predicted A level grades have always significantly over-predicted achieved grades. This may represent teacher/school optimism but also 'gaming' the system by selective/private schools. If you over-predict your students performance, then they are more likely to get an interview, especially for high competition subjects like medicine and dentistry, where AAA is the minimum. If/when they fail to achieve these inflated grades, then they still have the possibility of getting in as a near miss, if the course needs to match its desired numbers. A comprehensive school which forecasts its pupils' outcomes as accurately as possible, may also ensure that their pupils don't get the interview in the first place, but unfair advantage is why parents pay for their kids to go to selective/private schools.

So: the original COVID system was designed to reduce the population of predicted grades to the distribution of previous actual grades. In that it is quite successful. The problem is that this population strategy then impacts on individuals. So, for instance, matching the historical proportion of grades in a comprehensive school to the current predictions, does not work for the unusually gifted individual in a generally poorly performing school - which is the common situation in many comprehensives.

It is a similar problem to that of admissions. The population of students from selective/private schools has an unfair (i.e. not sustained by subsequent University performance) of 2 A level grades. So I could in theory subtract 2 A level grades from all selective/private school applicants to medicine. But I can't say that this is true of the individual applicant - Jemima for the private school might deserve her three As - and applications are made by individuals, not populations. SO if I turn Jemima down, I can be sued for discrimination.

So, for kids from comprehensive schools with a poor record, the population algorithm downgrades them as individuals, and they are rightly miffed, just like the example posted above in this thread.
One minor niggle about what you've said here, although I agree with much of it. The centre assessed grades that teachers submitted for these A level results are a very different thing from UCAS grades. Teachers know that UCAS offers are a bit like a bid for a university place, take place at the start of year 13 and are invariably optimistic. What they submitted for the A level results weren't UCAS predictions, they were much more realistic and evidence based and they took into account previous achievement data for both the school and individual pupils. They were warned their submissions would be compared to historical attainment data. So when these more realistic grades were downgraded, they will fairly frequently have already been a downgrade from what pupils received as a UCAS estimate.
Thanks, medi, that seems a fair point. So, then, the question is: did the 'centre assessed grades' correspond in their distribution more closely to the usual predicted grade distribution, or to the observed grade distribution? I must admit, my impression was the former, but I'm two whiskies in and tired after a long drive, so I'd be grateful if anyone else has the data on that!

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Re: mess

Post by Gfamily » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:58 pm

I'm sure I read somewhere that for some centres they didn't use the CAGs, just the laddering, and applied the historic distribution of grades.

But I'm not sure where, and I may have misunderstood what I read

Ah, it read in the Good Law Project article.
I saw that classes of more than 15 people would be calculated without any reference to teachers’ predicted grades, and I thought that wasn’t right,” he told the Guardian
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Re: mess

Post by jimbob » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:15 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:58 pm
I'm sure I read somewhere that for some centres they didn't use the CAGs, just the laddering, and applied the historic distribution of grades.

But I'm not sure where, and I may have misunderstood what I read

Ah, it read in the Good Law Project article.
I saw that classes of more than 15 people would be calculated without any reference to teachers’ predicted grades, and I thought that wasn’t right,” he told the Guardian
I've seen it stated that there were different rules applied to large and small classes.

Has the algorithm been released?

https://twitter.com/david_colquhoun/sta ... 4558369792
David Colquhoun
@david_colquhoun
This is incredible -
"A-levels: Exam regulator ignored expert help after statisticians wouldn't sign non-disclosure agreements"
Orwellian
Quote Tweet
Alastair Horne
@pressfuturist
· Aug 14
Wow. Ofqual turned down the offer of advice from the Royal Statistical Society on its algorithm because the RSS refused to be silent about any flaws it might find. https://news.sky.com/story/a-levels-exa ... s-12049289
Show this thread
5:51 PM · Aug 14, 2020·TweetDeck
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Little waster
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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:58 am

Anecdotally one of the schools I used to work at, routinely used to have a dozen students doing the hackneyed "literally jumping up in the air for joy" picture of all the students who got an A or above at A-Level every year.

This year it had just four, along with some vague platitude about "excellent results" and an ominous promise to escalate all concerns regarding fairness to the highest level.

Now lock-down and social distancing may have been a factor but the school has oscillated randomly from "Outstanding" to "Special Measures" and back again in the last 5 years so it is anyone's guess what their historical data would average out at, plus it is just the sort of working-class, coastal Northumbrian town Ofsted seems to have had a vendetta against in recent inspections so demographically it would be in trouble there too. So who knows?

I'm so glad I'm no longer a teacher.
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Re: mess

Post by jimbob » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:42 am

https://twitter.com/queenofswords6/stat ... 85667?s=20
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Conversation
Dr Georgina Porter
@queenofswords6
·
Aug 15
A levels...short thread

If anyone doubts who the winners are this year, here's a random selection of independent schools and the % of A*-A grades this year.

2019 figures follow in brackets.

Mayfield Girls' 66% (55%)
Sherfield School 70% (37%)
Leweston School 51% (37%)
Dr Georgina Porter
@queenofswords6
Farlington School 62% (48%)
The Marist School 55% (52%)
Godolphin School 50% (29.2%)
St Mary's Cambridge 54% (51%)
St George's Ascot 63% (35%)
Rye St Anthony 48.1% (18.3%)

A shout out to the dunces at the last school on the list who said its A-A*s had 'gone up 30%' (it's +165%)
4:17 AM · Aug 15, 2020·Twitter Web App
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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:58 am

jimbob wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:42 am
https://twitter.com/queenofswords6/stat ... 85667?s=20
A shout out to the dunces at the last school on the list who said its A-A*s had 'gone up 30%' (it's +165%)
4:17 AM · Aug 15, 2020·Twitter Web App
That'll be that "superior" private school education the BTL comments keep telling me about.
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Re: mess

Post by jimbob » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:20 am

Little waster wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:58 am
jimbob wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:42 am
https://twitter.com/queenofswords6/stat ... 85667?s=20
A shout out to the dunces at the last school on the list who said its A-A*s had 'gone up 30%' (it's +165%)
4:17 AM · Aug 15, 2020·Twitter Web App
That'll be that "superior" private school education the BTL comments keep telling me about.
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Re: mess

Post by lpm » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:43 am

If you pay for better grades for your kids, you should get better grades for your kids. Basic capitalism.
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Re: mess

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:58 am

lpm wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:43 am
If you pay for better grades for your kids, you should get better grades for your kids. Basic capitalism.
The government are actually undermining independent schools' business model here.

People pay exorbitant amounts to send their kids there in the belief that years in that kind of environment - be it selective intake, specialised facilities, smaller classes, etc - will improve their kids' grades.

If the government can just bump people's grades up and down for undisclosed reasons, why not just have tiered exam entry fees, so the rich can pay extra and their kids will be marked under different criteria.

If I were an independent school I'd be fuming. What's the point of giving nice-but-dim Rupert extra Ancient Greek tutorials if they could have just got one of the old boys in the Tory party to fudge the results?
THINK BIG AND UPEND THE SYSTEM

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Re: mess

Post by Gfamily » Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:24 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:58 am
lpm wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:43 am
If you pay for better grades for your kids, you should get better grades for your kids. Basic capitalism.
The government are actually undermining independent schools' business model here.

People pay exorbitant amounts to send their kids there in the belief that years in that kind of environment - be it selective intake, specialised facilities, smaller classes, etc - will improve their kids' grades.

If the government can just bump people's grades up and down for undisclosed reasons, why not just have tiered exam entry fees, so the rich can pay extra and their kids will be marked under different criteria.

If I were an independent school I'd be fuming. What's the point of giving nice-but-dim Rupert extra Ancient Greek tutorials if they could have just got one of the old boys in the Tory party to fudge the results?
Extra tutorials, you say: that's something you can charge for - at least that's how it worked for a friend's step children who were on the Assisted Places scheme* at a fairly well known private school.

* Achieved thanks to fairly complicated** accountancy following a divorce

** and implausible
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Re: mess

Post by shpalman » Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:40 pm

FB_IMG_1597667943987.jpg
FB_IMG_1597667943987.jpg (39.66 KiB) Viewed 356 times
molto tricky

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Re: mess

Post by lpm » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:08 pm

Mods: can the title be updated? To messier. Or even messiest.
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Re: mess

Post by FlammableFlower » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:17 pm

lpm wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:08 pm
Mods: can the title be updated? To messier. Or even messiest.
By Thursday we'll need more adjectives...

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Re: mess

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:49 pm

A-level and GCSE students will be awarded the grades estimated for them by their teachers, the Welsh Government has announced.
The U-turn followed criticism from students, opposition politicians and Welsh Labour backbenchers.
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-53807854

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Re: mess

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:54 pm

If there is to be a similar U-turn in England what effect would that have on university entrance?

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Re: mess

Post by jimbob » Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:09 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:54 pm
If there is to be a similar U-turn in England what effect would that have on university entrance?
When

https://twitter.com/PaulBrandITV/status ... 2341615621
Paul Brand
@PaulBrandITV
BREAKING: Exams regulator Ofqual has just announced that all A levels and GCSEs in England will now be graded according to teacher assessments (predicted grades).

This is a screeching u-turn from the government - on Saturday the Education Secretary said "No u-turn. No change."
4:00 PM · Aug 17, 2020·Twitter Web App
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Re: mess

Post by lpm » Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:22 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:54 pm
If there is to be a similar U-turn in England what effect would that have on university entrance?
Group of Universities A gave offers to 120 people for 100 places, knowing only 100 would get the grades.

Group of Universities B gave offers to 140 people for 100 places, knowing 80 have them as first choice and 60 people would be using them as insurance.

Normally, Group A would get 100 students and "hand back" 20 to Group B. Group B would get their 80, plus the 20.

The Universities are f.cked because now all 120 people in Group A got their grades, so Group A is oversubscribed with 120 students for courses designed for 100. While Group B are f.cked because they only have 80 students. Group A survive but have a grim year. Group B are uneconomic and go bust.

Of course it gets much more complicated, but essentially the maths dictates the Russell Group will be oversubscribed and the already struggling universities will be undersubscribed? Perhaps the overall cohort of 2020 students will be much higher than 2019, though, because there's no jobs and no chance to take a year off travelling?
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Re: mess

Post by lpm » Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:29 pm

From twitter: it's not a U-turn, it's now a B-turn.
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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:46 pm

jimbob wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:09 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:54 pm
If there is to be a similar U-turn in England what effect would that have on university entrance?
When

https://twitter.com/PaulBrandITV/status ... 2341615621
Paul Brand
@PaulBrandITV
BREAKING: Exams regulator Ofqual has just announced that all A levels and GCSEs in England will now be graded according to teacher assessments (predicted grades).

This is a screeching u-turn from the government - on Saturday the Education Secretary said "No u-turn. No change."
4:00 PM · Aug 17, 2020·Twitter Web App
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Re: mess

Post by bob sterman » Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:52 pm

So now what happens?

At my university we've already accepted (and rejected) a load of students.

If the rejected students now have higher grades than originally though - we could call them and offer them a place.

But what about the ones we've accepted? E.g. perhaps we were their insurance? If they now have higher grades than they initially thought will their first choice institution be calling them up and offering them a place?

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Re: mess

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:55 pm

lpm wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:22 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:54 pm
If there is to be a similar U-turn in England what effect would that have on university entrance?
Group of Universities A gave offers to 120 people for 100 places, knowing only 100 would get the grades.

Group of Universities B gave offers to 140 people for 100 places, knowing 80 have them as first choice and 60 people would be using them as insurance.

Normally, Group A would get 100 students and "hand back" 20 to Group B. Group B would get their 80, plus the 20.

The Universities are f.cked because now all 120 people in Group A got their grades, so Group A is oversubscribed with 120 students for courses designed for 100. While Group B are f.cked because they only have 80 students. Group A survive but have a grim year. Group B are uneconomic and go bust.

Of course it gets much more complicated, but essentially the maths dictates the Russell Group will be oversubscribed and the already struggling universities will be undersubscribed? Perhaps the overall cohort of 2020 students will be much higher than 2019, though, because there's no jobs and no chance to take a year off travelling?
OK, though presumably Covid means that there will be far fewer international students. But that's still bad for universities as replacing non-EU students with British ones will mean much lower fee income.

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Re: mess

Post by Grumble » Mon Aug 17, 2020 4:16 pm

I continue to be impressed by the government’s handling of events this year.
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

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Re: mess

Post by mediocrity511 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 4:19 pm

So now there's no cap on student places. Does this mean lower ranked unis suddenly ending up very empty as better ranked ones hoover up loads more students? There's going to be a lot of shuffling round over the next few days and a lotmof uncertainty for everyone involved.

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