Short history

In 2014 Research colleagues (working with partner schools) developed a methodology to give the ‘most likely minimum grade’ for A and AS. The model is based on the full national dataset and matched against the national Level 3 VA system. It is straightforward to use and will provide immediate suggested grades.
This is part of a larger research project that aims to refine the target setting process through studying characteristics that may affect outcomes. As part of this research, we offered support for teachers looking for a data analysis project for higher qualifications.

Mass produced targets?

While administratively convenient, we do not believe targets can be set by an automated system alone.  In our view, target setting needs to consider all national outcomes for similar students, but the process also needs to consider both student and specific subject factors – an individual target for each student and each course. We provide a considered baseline from which this process can take place.

All subjects are not the same! 

Neither do we believe in the validity of ‘flat grading’ and the use of the same targets and baselines for different subjects.  Our research has validated our thinking in this regard.  We use a grade distribution (based on the national data) for each individual course.

Our model

Target setting is a process involving a number of factors. These include the latest range of outcomes (in our work this is the national cohort), along with the levels of challenge you wish to set for both students and departments.
In order to support target setting, we have developed a minimum grade generator, based on the previous year’s validated outcomes.  The model currently includes A and AS courses – this will be reviewed and consideration will be given to extensions and refinements for 2018.
Our system analyses national outcomes for a range of KS4 point score bands on entry and then relates this to the DfE VA system to ensure a minimum positive VA.  Centres can then use this as the basis to set a higher target, providing challenge and aspiration.

Key aspects of the design are:

  • Reliability – using the largest dataset available and three years of data to address annual anomalies.
  • Accountability – relating the minimum outcome to national progress measures
  • Grade distribution for individual courses – not a ‘flat grading’ model with the same targets for each subject
  • Acceptability – we advise on the minimum grade based on the data from the previous year as the basis for your target seting, allowing inclusion of challenge and aspiration.

We support this with Grade Outcomes Analysis charts for most Level 3 taught courses, showing the distribution of outcomes against KS4 bands on entry. These are being used by our partner schools and colleges for IAG and departmental comparisons.

Further Research

As with all our developments, the resources we provide are produced and improved by working with the academies, colleges and schools who partner with us.
Suggestions for refinement or expansion are assessed for impact, cost-effectiveness and reliability and then discussed with our development centres. At Oxford Analytics we believe in an informed approach to supporting post-16 education and developing resources that have a positive impact on student performance.