Teachers too optimistic when predicting grades, survey suggests

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11th August 2015 10:49 - Education

Analysis of exam board data has revealed that teachers are often too optimistic when setting predicted grades for pupils.Teachers too optimistic when predicting grades, survey suggests

Researchers compared GCSE and A-level results awarded by exam board, OCR, with the predicted grades submitted by teachers, as part of their methodology.

The research revealed that of the predicted grades for A-level, approximately 43 per cent were forecasted correctly, in comparison with 47 per cent in 2013.

The researchers attributed the decrease in correctly predicted grades to the Government’s removal of unit exams, which used to be taken in January, which consequently made it harder for teachers to accurately predict pupils’ grades.

At the moment, universities consider AS-level results when making offers, however, from 2016, they will no longer count towards the final A-level grade.

The research by ASCL indicated that 70 per cent of schools will carry on offering AS-levels next year, although, there are worries that the results will no longer be a reliable predictor of final A-level results.

General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, said that predicting grades was exceptionally difficult to do with certainty.

"This means that, should the accuracy level continue to fall, students will face more uncertainty as they wait for their results, which is not the reward they deserve for their hard work,"Hobby said.

However, the researchers discovered that teacher’s predictions were not always far off, as in 2012, 92 per cent of grades were either accurate or within one grade. This figure decreased to 88 per cent in 2014.

The research also found that teachers are more likely to be over-optimistic in their predictions, with 43 per cent estimating higher A-level grades than pupils actually achieved, in 2014.

As for GSCEs, in 42 per cent of cases, teachers had predicted higher grades than the pupils got.

Only 14 per cent of teachers underestimated the grades of both GCSEs and A-levels.

Of the different types of schools, independent and grammar schools had the best record for correctly estimating results at A-level, although, the researchers suggested that because students from these schools generally achieve better grades, A-level results are easier to forecast.

OCR said that the findings indicated that it was vital for teachers to get more involved in examining.

OCR’s Director of Assessment Standards, Sylke Scheiner, said of the findings:

"It underlines the need for more teachers to become examiners so they can really understand the nuts and bolts of how their students can perform."

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