Grade estimates come under fire
PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 November 2012
A CONCERNED Nailsea father has hit out at a system being used to estimate what teenagers will achieve in their exams.
Mike Austen has raised issue with Backwell School’s methods of creating target grades, after his daughter Sherry was told she was expected to achieve Es in her A-levels in two years time.
Sherry, aged 17, started at Backwell School sixth form this September after achieving A, B and C grades in her GCSEs at Nailsea School.
According to Mr Austen, just weeks after beginning studying for her A-levels in photography, biology, English literature and geography, an analysis was carried out to assess what grades she is likely to gain.
Mr Austen, of Milton Close, said: “The teaching staff at sixth form had taken students to one side individually and told them what they were expected to achieve at A-level in two years time.
“Sherry was told by all of her teachers, apart from those in photography, that she was predicted to get Es.
“The real issue here is the school sitting its sixth form students down individually after just a couple of weeks into their studies and, in essence, telling them they are ‘predicted’ to fail their A-level exams.”
After the issue was raised with the school, Sherry has since been told she is expected to achieve C and B grades.
While Backwell School has said it will not comment on individual pupils, head of sixth form, Jon Nunes, has said carefully-selected data is used to monitor students’ progress.
He said: “In the sixth form, prior attainment is used to set a benchmark target grade for students. This target can then be raised by teachers during the course, as they see the students’ work develop.
“This is not a prediction but a guide, based on national data, to likely attainment at the end of A-level and other courses.
“The school feels it is important that such information is shared with students and parents in order to raise aspirations.
“Students are given a single grade, which they are most likely to achieve, but are also shown the full-chances chart in order for them to see that some students do even better. This encourages them to aim as high as possible.”
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