Examination Results 2019-2021

Russell Haggar

Site Owner

Examination Results 2019-2021

Click here for differences in examination results class race and gender

Click here for recent education policy

Click here for a very useful article from an LSE Blog: The Impact of COVID 19 on A Levels since 2020 and what it means for Higher Education in 2022/23 by Peter Finn, Radu Cinpoes. and Emily Hill [Kingston University]

In this section I cover the overall trends in GCE and GCSE Examination Results 2018-2021. Social class, gender and ethnic differences in educational attainment are covered elsewhere on my site.

Percentages of Student Entries and GCE Advanced Level Grades Cumulative Percentages UK 2016-2021

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
E or above 98.1% 97.9% 97.6% 97.6% 99.7% 99.5%
C or above 77.6% 77.4% 77% 75.8% 87.9% 88.5%
A or above 25.8% 26.3% 26.4% 25.5% 38.6% 44.8%
A* 8.1% 8.3% 8.0% 7.8% 14.4% 19.1%

 

In recent years until 2020 annual overall pass rates and grade distributions at both GCSE Level and GCE Advanced Level have been relatively stable because the overall pass rates and grade boundaries have been manipulated to achieve comparable outcomes: that is to try to ensure that “if the cohort of students taking a qualification in any one year is of similar ability to their predecessors, then overall results should be comparable.” Thus, the distribution of A level grades in any one year will be very closely related the distribution of GCSE results two years previously although the distribution of A level grades can be modified slightly if expert examination scrutinisers believe that this is justified. However, the overall effects of the comparable outcomes procedure is that year on year variations in GCSE and GCE Advanced Level results are likely to be small. This procedure has been adopted to remove the possibility of pass rate and grade inflation.

However due to COVID and the cancellation of examinations in 2020 and 2021 these procedures were not adopted and as a result higher level GCE Advanced Level and GCSE grades both increased substantially. {You may click here for an explanation of comparable outcomes from Schools Week 2015  and click here for a detailed OFQUAL publication from 2020 and here Schools Week coverage for an interesting dispute as to when Comparable Outcomes were first introduced]

It was initially decided that due to the cancellation of GCE Advanced Level and GCSE examinations, examination grades would be awarded on the basis of Centre Assessed Grades which would then be modified via an algorithm constructed by OFQUAL  “based mainly of how teachers had ranked their pupils in order of ability  and the results of schools and colleges in previous years. Of less importance would be teachers’ predictions and how the pupils themselves had done in previous exams “[BBC] . Click here for BBC item on GCE Advanced Level Examinations in 2020.

This procedure was designed to stop grade inflation which certainly would have occurred in Centre Assessed Grades had been accepted in their entirety  but it also meant that talented students in schools and colleges which historically  returned lower results  would be placed at a serious disadvantage; Poorer students were disproportionately likely to attend historically poorly performing schools poorly  and furthermore  the standardisation process which tended to push down  teachers grades would also not apply  to subjects with smaller numbers of entries such as classics and modern languages- with accusations that this would benefit independent schools.

The examination results published on August 13th indicated that larger proportions of examination entries had been awarded A*, A and B grades in 2020 than in 2019 but also that 39.1% of grades were reduced below the grades which teachers had predicted as is indicated in the following infographic and although only approximately 4% of grades were reduced by 2 or 3 grades this still affected thousands of students nationwide.

Click here for Newsnight coverage of the initial GCE Advanced Level Grades 2020 and here for the aftermath. Click here for coverage by Sky News. Click here for Wikipedia coverage

Click here for a DfE Infographic  and here for Schools week coverage which shows the grade distribution of results in England  based upon moderated teachers, assessments published August 13th 2020.

9.0% of students would have been awarded A* Grades and 27.6% 0f students would have been awarded A*/A grades. On this basis the proportion of Grade A*/A grades awarded would have increased slightly by comparison with 2017-2019 but the effects of  OFQUAL’S intervention was to significantly reduce the proportion of A*/A Grades by comparison with the proportion of A*/A Grades which would have been awarded if the Centre Assessed Grades had been accepted [ 37.7%]. No changes were made to 58.7% of the CAGS awarded but 39.1% of CAGs were downgraded of which 3.3% were downgraded by 2 grades and 0.2% were downgraded by 3 grades. Given that there were 718k entries, this meant that 1.400 entries were downgraded by 3 grades and approximately 23,700 entries were downgraded by 2 grades. In some cases, even a one grade reduction could deny a university place and so anger was understandable

The Scottish Authorities had already decided that they would award grades entirely based on teacher assessments and they were followed By Wales and Northern Ireland, but the UK government initially responded to the furore by announcing that English students would be able to appeal their results based on their mock examination results and/or be allowed to retake their examinations in the Autumn. However, it became apparent almost immediately that such proposals were impractical, and the government then decided that instead that students would be awarded their original centre assessed grades or their moderated grade whichever was the higher.

Consequently, the eventual GCE Advanced Level grades awarded in 2020 were significantly higher than in 2019. Thus, for UK students the proportion of GCE Advanced Level entries awarded A* and A grades was 25.5% in 2019 and 38.6% in 2020.

Click here for More or Less on GCE Advanced Level Examinations 2020.

It was subsequently agreed that their Centre Assessed Grades would be accepted in their entirety in 2021 and the proportion of UK GCE Advanced Level entries awarded Grades A* and A rose to 44.8% in 2021.

Click here   for Changes in GCE Advanced Level Grades 2016-2021

GCE Advanced Level Results, State Schools, and Independent Schools 2019- 2021

It was noted that the application of the OFQUAL Algorithm to the 2020 appeared to operate to the advantage of Independent School Pupils but this was also the case when Centre Assessed Grades were reinstated in 2020 and in the 2021 GCE Advanced Level Examinations. However, it has then come to be argued that these statistics need to be interpreted with care.

Click here and scroll toward the end of this Guardian article

Click here for Ofqual Analysis of GCE Advanced Level and GCSE Results. Scroll to pages 13-16 for discussion of the State and Independent Sectors

Click here for Sutton Trust Comment on GCE Advanced Level results 2021

Click here for Sky TV coverage of GCE Advanced Level results 2021

Click here for Exam results 2020 at Eton College

 

GCSE Examinations

You may Click here and follow the GCSE link to access the full JCQ [Joint Council for Qualifications] tabulations of GCE Advanced Level data for 2021 and click here for diagrammatic presentations of these data from fft educationdatalab.

Percentages of Student Entries and GCSE Examination Grades Cumulative Percentages UK 2016-2021

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
1/G or above 98.4 98.4 98.3 98.3 99.6 99.0
4/C or above 66.9 66.3 66.9 67.3 76.3 77.1
7/A or above 20.5 20.0 20.5 20.6 26.2 28.9

 

As with GCE Advanced Level results the pattern Of GCSE grades remained relatively stable between 2016 and 2019  but when the examinations were cancelled the percentages of passes at grades 4/C and above rose significantly

Click Here for fft educationdatalab coverage of differences in GCSE results between State and Independent Schools

Click here for announcement that cancelled 2021 GCSE and A Level examinations will be replaced by teachers grades and here for further information on how teachers decided results  and here for results in GCE Advanced Level and GCSE examinations s in 2020 and 2021

You may Click here and follow the A Level link to access the full JCQ [Joint Council for Qualifications] tabulations of GCE Advanced Level data for 2021 and click here for diagrammatic presentations of these data from fft educationdatalab.

You may Click here and follow the GCSE Level link to access the full JCQ [Joint Council for Qualifications] tabulations of GCSE  data for 2021 and click here for diagrammatic presentations of these data from fft educationdatalab.