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New maths and further maths A Levels Watch

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1. (Original post by PhysicsKid)
I think it all comes back down to KS2, where good work is often done. I wonder whether the KS2 SATs could test Levels 4-6 with a 5b or 5c expected of the 'average' student instead of 4b. That would grant crucial extra time at KS3 for harder topics to be brought in earlier; with the necessary foundations.
Too many children are pushed through too much maths too quickly

So we have level 4 students who do not really know how numbers work, what fractions mean, etc

You seem to support Mr Gove's philosophy of "do more" rather than "do it well"

It would be much better for students to study maths at a slower pace so that they actually understood it - that way we would not have to spend so much time re-teaching things that have been taught quickly but in a rote way rather than an understanding way
Do you have any idea how this will work? Will the 1 grade require higher than 90% for the current A* or will it effectively be a renaming? I can't see the highest grade being pushed lower than it currently is.
You have it back to front. Grade 1 is the lowest.

Roughly:

Current grades G and F = 1
Current grade C = 4 and 5
Current grade B = 5 and 6
Current grade A* = 8 (bottom 50%) and 9 (top 50%)

The 'pass' grade of a 5 (even though they are all pass grades!) will be set something like two thirds of the way between the current C grade boundary and the current B grade boundary.
3. (Original post by shamika)
Isn't this the real issue? I think there were two fundamental problems with the current Maths A-Level. The first is that even with Further Maths, they are just not adequate preparation to get into a maths course in a top university (hence the prevalence of STEP). The second is that it is failing even as a facilitating subject for quantitative courses at university.

The proposed reforms go some way in helping with the second problem (note that the changes to the actual content are minor, but there are encouraging signs the exams will differentiate more). As long as participation doesn't drop, this can only be a good thing.

But we're kidding ourselves if we think that we are stretching our brightest with the current system. For those who are aiming to study maths at university, the current content is nowhere near as helpful as it should be.

There are huge chunks of content which would both be challenging and helpful to a wide range of people. For example, learning to count properly (permutations/combinations, inclusion-exclusion principle, using De Morgan's laws, pigeonhole principle etc.) could be a starting point for both mathmos and those who do stats, so that they get a proper feeling for probability. Similarly, modular arithmetic is a hugely interesting topic that can be taught straight out of GCSE, not least because it starts of very simply.

Why not create multiple courses which properly meet the needs of those who take maths at A-Level? This should include viable and respected alternatives for people who won't (or shouldn't) take A-Level maths in its current form - my gripe extends both for the brightest and weakest in maths. As a nation we need to get over this culture of A-Levels being the only qualification worth having pre-university and actually help people gain the skills or education that will help them in the long-run.

Well the development alongside the A Level or the Core Maths is intended to provide suitable material for those who are weaker than A Level

As for STEP - 'twas always so - in the good old days we took S levels

Though, of course, in my day even fewer studied double maths than do so now
4. (Original post by Mr M)
You have it back to front. Grade 1 is the lowest.

Roughly:

Current grades G and F = 1
Current grade C = 4 and 5
Current grade B = 5 and 6
Current grade A* = 8 (bottom 50%) and 9 (top 50%)

The 'pass' grade of a 5 (even though they are all pass grades!) will be set something like two thirds of the way between the current C grade boundary and the current B grade boundary.

Have you seen the
4=Good GCSE
5=International Standard
description?
5. (Original post by TenOfThem)
Have you seen the
4=Good GCSE
5=International Standard
description?
No. Where did you see this? 4 isn't a good GCSE really.
6. (Original post by Mr M)
No. Where did you see this?
Some Dfe document - it is saved on the work laptop - I will have a look tomorrow
7. (Original post by TenOfThem)
Well the development alongside the A Level or the Core Maths is intended to provide suitable material for those who are weaker than A Level

As for STEP - 'twas always so - in the good old days we took S levels

Though, of course, in my day even fewer studied double maths than do so now
I saw that there was concerns on this thread (I think from Mr M) as to how useful the Core Maths qualification is. What we need is a concerted effort to develop that qualification to help out our students. We don't need the exam boards creating qualifications for the sake of it, without the support and recognition from society. Without that recognition, people will always dismiss it because it isn't an A-Level.
8. (Original post by shamika)
Isn't this the real issue? I think there were two fundamental problems with the current Maths A-Level. The first is that even with Further Maths, they are just not adequate preparation to get into a maths course in a top university (hence the prevalence of STEP).
1.2% of A Level mathematics candidates took STEP II last year. It isn't prevalent.
9. (Original post by shamika)
I saw that there was concerns on this thread (I think from Mr M) as to how useful the Core Maths qualification is. What we need is a concerted effort to develop that qualification to help out our students. We don't need the exam boards creating qualifications for the sake of it, without the support and recognition from society. Without that recognition, people will always dismiss it because it isn't an A-Level.
Not all of the boards have released their Core Maths courses

I have seen a lot of the research that has gone into the development of this idea and am expecting there to be some good courses that will deliver exactly what HE needs
10. (Original post by shamika)
I saw that there was concerns on this thread (I think from Mr M) as to how useful the Core Maths qualification is. What we need is a concerted effort to develop that qualification to help out our students. We don't need the exam boards creating qualifications for the sake of it, without the support and recognition from society. Without that recognition, people will always dismiss it because it isn't an A-Level.
The Core Maths specifications are yet to be approved but they will be as Ofqual will not dare to embarrass the Government.

The only drafts that have been published are from OCR MEI and you will find links below. OCR have not submitted their own specifications but AQA and Edexcel have.

Quantitative Problem Solving

Quantitative Reasoning
11. (Original post by Slowbro93)
and thank god for centralising exam boards! Having students saying that they want to take Edexcel because it's the "easy" exam board can make teaching sessions a pain sometimes

(Original post by the bear)
thanks for that interesting post. could you say what will be the implications for the MEI board ? are they likely to survive as a separate provider ?

(Original post by Mr M)
MEI's income is not dependent on A Level mathematics (and there is no reason to believe they won't be a big player for the new A Level anyway). They are contracted to run the Further Maths Support Programme and raked in a tidy few million for developing Gower's ideas into the Critical Maths element of the new Core Maths qualification. You don't need to fear for their future!
Although there is to be a common specification for Maths, there is evidence that the different boards will continue to operate separately. The document states that, for Further Maths "It will also allow awarding organisations the freedom to develop distinctive strands, react to emerging technology and innovate." Thus they can offer different options for the other 50% of their specification.

This means that different styles of question could still be asked on the A level Maths papers.
12. (Original post by TenOfThem)
Too many children are pushed through too much maths too quickly

So we have level 4 students who do not really know how numbers work, what fractions mean, etc

You seem to support Mr Gove's philosophy of "do more" rather than "do it well"

It would be much better for students to study maths at a slower pace so that they actually understood it - that way we would not have to spend so much time re-teaching things that have been taught quickly but in a rote way rather than an understanding way
I hadn't considered that: at Levels 5 and below, there aren't many topics and they shouldn't be too taxing. Either way, more time needs to be set aside, for both Maths and English, so we can get pupils really grounded and confident in the basics.

I went to a pretty average primary school and rote learning was uncommon, we even had official sets with setted tables in them with pupils from all the classes in Year 5/6, I'm not too sure what other schools are like, but from Year 3+ that might be a good idea too.

On a slight tangent, do you think rote learning of times tables is helpful? Wouldn't it be more useful to teach the tables of primes, then using the principle of doubling to fill in the gaps (giving a lot of opportunities for practice to students), and in justifying this there is a springboard to learning about primes and then triangle/square numbers; a seamless progression from Level 2-3 to 4 and then well into 5?
13. (Original post by TenOfThem)
Not all of the boards have released their Core Maths courses

I have seen a lot of the research that has gone into the development of this idea and am expecting there to be some good courses that will deliver exactly what HE needs
I hope you're right and that they help people gain confidence in maths that they otherwise wouldn't have.

(Original post by Mr M)
1.2% of A Level mathematics candidates took STEP II last year. It isn't prevalent.
But it is prevalent amongst the cohort who seek entry into a top university, especially if you include MAT (which I meant to include in my original post).

(Original post by Mr M)
The Core Maths specifications are yet to be approved but they will be as Ofqual will not dare to embarrass the Government.

The only drafts that have been published are from OCR MEI and you will find links below. OCR have not submitted their own specifications but AQA and Edexcel have.

Quantitative Problem Solving

Quantitative Reasoning
Thanks. Will post back if I have any comments.
14. (Original post by TenOfThem)
I have seen a lot of the research that has gone into the development of this idea and am expecting there to be some good courses that will deliver exactly what HE needs
But if it isn't what higher education requests of students, it will go the same way as the Ebacc

If one asks how many universities are selective as opposed to recruiting institutions for science and social sciences in the brave new world, the answer is perilously few.
15. (Original post by TenOfThem)
in the good old days we took S levels
Yea. Let's hear it for S-levels.
16. (Original post by TenOfThem)
As for STEP - 'twas always so - in the good old days we took S levels

Though, of course, in my day even fewer studied double maths than do so now
At least S levels were a "qualification" so you could stick them on your CV, unlike STEP which is "just" an entrance exam. It's a pity that the AEA didn't take off more widely across all subjects as it seemed very good in principle.

(Original post by Mr M)
The Core Maths specifications are yet to be approved but they will be as Ofqual will not dare to embarrass the Government.

The only drafts that have been published are from OCR MEI and you will find links below. OCR have not submitted their own specifications but AQA and Edexcel have.

Quantitative Problem Solving

Quantitative Reasoning
Did I read somewhere that the new Core maths qualification would be a "certificate" and not an A level, and therefore there was some worry about people taking it up, or have I imagined this?
17. (Original post by davros)
Did I read somewhere that the new Core maths qualification would be a "certificate" and not an A level, and therefore there was some worry about people taking it up, or have I imagined this?
Yes. You read it in one of my posts. The qualification is delivered over 180 hours (the same as an AS) but a Level 3 Certificate is clearly less desirable. The Government were not prepared to budge on this issue as they said there must not be more than one type of mathematics A Level - time will tell whether they have mortally wounded Core Maths before it has even begun.
18. (Original post by nulli tertius)
But if it isn't what higher education requests of students
But it is - the content has been driven by HE
19. (Original post by davros)
Did I read somewhere that the new Core maths qualification would be a "certificate" and not an A level, and therefore there was some worry about people taking it up, or have I imagined this?
Given that funding in FE colleges is dependant on students continuing with some maths from 2016 (it may actually be 2015) onwards

And given that anyone taking a Btec Level 3 will need it as part of their "tech bacc"

I do not think there will be an issue with uptake
20. (Original post by TenOfThem)
But it is - the content has been driven by HE

It may be what HE wants but if HE doesn't bestow any advantage for having it or detriment for not having it, students will vote with their feet.

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