How do grades in languages compare with grades in other
on the links below. They will either go to separate pages giving detailed
information and support (from which there will be a download) or directly to a
on the current situation Feb 2015 (Webinar number 10)
Situation September 2013
is severe grading?
paper on Severe Grading
points for discussing/analysing exam results
& related articles (chronological - most recent on top)
link to Current
6th March 2016
Analysis of national data by Ofqual, DfE and other
organisations compares the grades obtained by pupils in modern languages (esp
French, German and Spanish) with the grades in other subjects. This shows
clearly that pupils of the same prior attainment will, on average, obtain lower
grades in languages than other common subjects at GCSE.
Because this data is drawn from Ofqual, JCQ, DfE, Ofsted
and other official and independent sources, it will be invaluable for members
preparing for Performance Management and annual Examination Analysis (including
discussion with Heads and Governors) and for Ofsted inspections / Self
The situation at AS and A/L is more complex and covers a
range of issues, but these are still very much matters of concern. We refer here
to "severe and unpredictable grading".
There is an overall issue of grades in French, German and Spanish being
lower than most other facilitating subjects apart from Maths and Sciences.
There is a particular issue at A* with the proportion of A* grades
relative to A & A* grades being much lower than all facilitating subjects.
There is also an issue with the rank order of students not being in line
with teacher expectation ("unreliable grading").
This was recognised by Ofqual and specifically addressed in their Sept
2014 report [PUT HYPERLINK] and action has been taken
Ofqual are now officially looking at the whole topic of
Inter-Subject Comparability (ISC) [PUT
HYPERLINK], and we are very much hoping that action will be taken.
Presentation by Nick Mair (ISMLA) at Ofqual conference on
Inter-subject comparability (ISC)
PPT Ofqual ISC conf Feb16 for website.pptx
FFT DataLab Blog by Dave Thomson
Which are the most difficult subjects at GCSE?
"Law and astronomy although there are very few entries each
year. The much bigger issue is that GCSEs in modern foreign languages are
graded more severely than other subjects"
six working papers
published by Ofqual are:
1. Comparability of Different GCSE and A level
Subjects in England: An introduction.
2. Inter-Subject Comparability: A Review of the
3. Inter-Subject Comparability of Examination
Standards in GCSE and GCE.
4. Inter-Subject Comparability: An International
5. A Recent History of Regulatory Perspectives on
Inter-Subject Comparability in England.
6. Exploring Implications of Policy Options
Concerning Inter-Subject Comparability.
GCSE results - June 2015
Numbers and graphs updated to include June 2015
ML Sept15 update - graphs.pdf
ML Sept15 update - numbers.pdf
A/L results - June 2015
Numbers and graphs updated to include June 2015
ML Sept15 update v1a - graphs.pdf
ML Sept15 update v1a - AL nos.pdf
Analysis and comment on the A* figures for June 2015:
website on A star Aug 2015.docx
ML Sept15 update v1a - A star 2013-15.pdf
ML AL grade boundaries for June 2014
This document includes an explanation of how the A*
boundary is set. Note that the
Ofqual Report publ in Sept 2014 uses the Jun 2013 results, so this
document is a useful update.
AL grade boundaries for June 2014 for AQA + others - v4b.docx
Ofqual Report: Exploration
of Assessment Quality Issues in A Level Modern Foreign Languages -
This looked in detail at all the factors at A/L from
content through to assessment (questions) to marking to grading that
contribute to variability (some typical, others undesirable)
(Sept 2014): "Guide
to Ofqual Technical Report for ALL+ISMLA website as sent.docx"
Our note out to schools in
June 2015: "Update
to schools and colleges about AL ML exams Summer 2015 - as sent
JCQ Report: A review of Modern Foreign Languages at A level:
A* grade and low take up
Paper 1: The decline in uptake of A-level Modern Foreign Languages:
literature review (Dr Debra Malpass)
Paper 2: Attitudes towards Modern Foreign Languages (Ipsos
Paper 3: A-level Modern Foreign Languages: why so few
A*s? (Ben Jones, Beth Black & Christine Wong)
Paper 4: A-level Modern Foreign Languages: assessment
instruments and script analysis (Beth Black)
"Key Points from JCQ Report into AL ML and A star - July
of situation regarding "severe grading" in GCSE ML - Sep
Summary of situation regarding "severe grading" in ML
(Timeline and overview)
GCSE Figures from JCQ
for hyperlinks to page or download
Severe grading at A level - general overview: Page
Analysis of A Level results June 2012: Page
A Level A* issue 2012: Page | Download
Excel spreadsheet Statistics from JCQ: Download
Radio 4 - You and Yours, 15/09/10. Helen Myers invited to talk
about Severe Grading following Flashmeeting organised by Joe Dale.
Webpage with context, weblink and embedded audio file.
| August 2010
to TES article 'Languages decline deepens'
to Independent article 'Class divide opens up in teaching of
seminar on inter-subject comparability:
Report on seminar from Helen Myers
Guidance on raising queries about GCSE grading
'How to compare your results in ML' - informal guidance following a
question on TES forum.
release following publication of GCSE results
release following publication of GCSE results
statistics on numbers doing GCSE June 08 and grades obtained
release from ALL, ASCL & ISMLA
report 'Grade standards in GCSE modern foreign languages'
This document provides QCA's response to Lord Dearing's view that the
award of grades in GCSE languages is more demanding than for most other
reporting on QCA report + press release.
from Christine Gilbert (HMIC i/c OFSTED) in response to letter from
John Dunford about the impact of CVA on schools with compulsory languages.
from Ken Boston to letter on severe grading.
to Mr Jim Knight on severe grading and change in profile
written question put by David Laws
language GCSEs lowest in years' article in Guardian reporting on written
Parliamentary Question from David Laws
on Change in Profile and Impact on Grading
on Severe Grading sent to Ed Balls, Ken Boston,Lid King and Ron
Dearing from 80 Language Colleges at Language College Conference,
points to grades AQA French Linear Grids
statistics on numbers doing GCSE June 07 and grades obtained
June 4th 2007
|Response from Alan Johnson to letter sent
from Alan Johnson to say that he has asked the QCA to conduct a review and
is awaiting their advice on whether or not to change grade boundaries.
Link to download pdf here
urging Alan Johnson to respond immediately to the Dearing recommendation
regarding severe grading
sent to Alan Johnson from ASCL, signed by John Dunford (ASCL), Duncan
Byrne (ISMLA), David Mansfield (SSAT) and David Wilson (ALL)
hard' modern language GCSEs may be made easier
following publication of Dearing Review
French comparability study 2004-2005
presentation online relating to ASCL conference, March 2007
presentation used by Dr Robert Coe at the ASCL conference - link to site
News article from ASCL conference reporting on Dr Coe's presentation to
'easier than others' - web page
into word document.
Pupils who opt for "easier" subjects
such as sport or drama rather than sciences or languages could achieve
higher GCSE grades, research suggests.
A Durham University study concludes some subjects
are easier than others - because of the way exams are graded.
A detailed study has been carried out using
national data in order to compare the grades obtained by pupils in languages
with the grades in other subjects. This shows clearly that pupils of the same
prior attainment will, on average, obtain lower grades in languages than other
subjects at both GCSE and AS/A level.
Because this data is drawn from PANDA and
DCSF sources, it will be invaluable for members preparing for Performance Management,
Threshold Applications, annual Examination Analysis (including discussion with
Heads and Governors) and OFSTED/Self Evaluation Form.
The outcomes from the study have been endorsed
by the recently published research from the Durham University Curriculum
Evaluation and Management Centre (home of ALIS and midYIS, Yellis, PIPS) and reported in the
Times Educational Supplement 31st March 2006.
/ QCA / Exam Boards Meeting report
Report of meeting held between
representatives of ALL, QCA and exam boards in October 2006
to original statement
paragraphs to be inserted into original statement following further
analysis in light of CEM analysis (post 31.3.06)
and PE are soft options' - TES
(link to be added)
Study from Durham CEM
challenges exam chiefs' claims that every subject is equally
difficult. 'They concluded that, students, whatever their ability,
would be more likely to achieve good grades in subjects such as drama and
P, than in science and languages'
statement original (Jan 06)
3 page statement followed by
detailed appendices giving sophisticated analysis of KS3. KS4, AS and A
Barrier - The Guardian
Report of drop in take-up at KS4, includes comments on
comparison of grades achieved by pupils in different subjects
A Level Regression statistics + graph
excel spreadsheet here
slide showing graph plotting
between the subject grade and the average of other subjects
taken by the same pupils"
average score in other subjects.".
graph forms a clear pattern from top-left to bottom-right with French and
German at the extreme bottom-right (along with Maths and Sciences) -
it is perhaps no surprise that on average, those who do French get the
highest average A level scores ..
Relative Performance Index for A level 2004 - raw data before turned into
excel spreadsheet of data here.