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Independent report

Options for setting the grade 9 boundary in GCSEs

Research commissioned by Ofqual on the impact on different types of schools of different approaches to the award of grade 9 in new GCSEs.

Documents

Executive summary: Options for setting the grade 9 boundary

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Options for setting the grade 9 boundary

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If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email publications@ofqual.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Details

We commissioned research from Education Datalab to consider the likely impact on different types of schools of different approaches to the award of grade 9 in new GCSEs.

Three approaches to the award of grade 9 were modelled:

  1. 20% approach: the grade 9 boundary in each subject is set so that the top 20% of students awarded at least a grade 7 is awarded a grade 9.
  2. Tailored approach: the grade 9 boundary is set so that over all subjects, 20% of students awarded at least a grade 7 are awarded a grade 9 but the exact percentage varies by subject. It is higher in those subjects with a higher proportion of students awarded at least a grade 7 and lower in those subjects with a lower proportion of students awarded at least a grade 7.
  3. 50% approach: the grade 9 boundary in each subject is set so that the top 50% of students currently awarded a grade A* is awarded a grade 9.

The analysis was based on a dataset comprising the exam results for students aged 15 to 16 years in summer 2014 in state-funded and independent schools.