Should 15% be enough to pass GCSE maths? Watch

Notnek
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The grade boundaries have been released for the November 2018 GCSE exams. For Edexcel maths, the higher paper required 37/240 ≈ 15% for a grade 4 which is a "standard pass":



Does anyone think this is a problem? The exam is very hard and 50% of the questions target grades 7-9 so it makes sense that the boundaries are very low, but does achieving an average of around 12/80 in each paper demonstrate enough ability to warrant a pass? You could have a student who is only good at geometry for example and they manage to pick up 12 marks in geometry questions but leave the rest of the paper blank. I doubt many teachers have ever given a "pass" to a student who only gets 12/80 in one of their tests! Does 15% in a hard exam demonstrate a to an employer that an applicant is competent with maths?

If you do think it's a problem, how can this problem be fixed? Should grades 3/4 be removed from the higher paper?
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TheNamesBond.
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The main reason they’re that low is because the majority of the nation is poor at Math, hence the extremely low grade boundaries.
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CoolCavy
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I don't know if it's changed (think it has with these new 1-9 things ) but when I did it the start of the paper would start at like an E level and it would get incrementally harder until the last few questions were A* level. That meant that people who got a C could complete up to the C level questions in the paper and peppeo who were A* level would complete the whole thing. This seems a sensible approach to me. My level was an A but I still attempted the A* questions as I had nothing to lose by doing them. Came out with an A
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MinaBee
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Haven't the grade boundaries for maths always been that low?
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Notnek
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
I don't know if it's changed (think it has with these new 1-9 things ) but when I did it the start of the paper would start at like an E level and it would get incrementally harder until the last few questions were A* level. That meant that people who got a C could complete up to the C level questions in the paper and peppeo who were A* level would complete the whole thing. This seems a sensible approach to me. My level was an A but I still attempted the A* questions as I had nothing to lose by doing them. Came out with an A
The exam is now harder and you can get grade 7/8 questions near the beginning of the paper. The grade 9 questions tend to be near the end but there is no progression like there used to be. This is why it doesn’t make sense to me for a grade 4 student to do this paper but schools are going to see the low boundaries and decide to enter a grade 4 student into the higher paper instead of foundation.
(Original post by MinaBee)
Haven't the grade boundaries for maths always been that low?
No, for example in 2016 the C boundary for the higher paper was 35%. A 4 and a C are both considered a pass.
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by Notnek)
The exam is now harder and you can get grade 7/8 questions near the beginning of the paper. The grade 9 questions tend to be near the end but there is no progression like there used to be. This is why it doesn’t make sense to me for a grade 4 student to do this paper but schools are going to see the low boundaries and decide to enter a grade 4 student into the higher paper instead of foundation.

No, for example in 2016 the C boundary for the higher paper was 35%. A 4 and a C are both considered a pass.
That doesn't seem very logical or fair :nope: if people of all abilities are taking a paper (which it is as it's a general certificate of education) then the paper should reflect this. The old way of doing it was much better
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Notnek
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
That doesn't seem very logical or fair :nope: if people of all abilities are taking a paper (which it is as it's a general certificate of education) then the paper should reflect this. The old way of doing it was much better
That’s why there is a foundation paper designed for lower abilities but often students aren’t entered for it when they should be. I think I’d prefer three different exams to cater for all abilities e.g.

Foundation : Grades 1-5
Intermediate : Grades 3-7
Higher : Grades 5-9

A student not reaching the minimum grade would receive a U and have to retake. This would encourage more schools to enter students for the correct paper.
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by Notnek)
That’s why there is a foundation paper designed for lower abilities but often students aren’t entered for it when they should be. I think I’d prefer three different exams to cater for all abilities e.g.

Foundation : Grades 1-5
Intermediate : Grades 3-7
Higher : Grades 5-9

A student not reaching the minimum grade would receive a U and have to retake. This would encourage more schools to enter students for the correct paper.
oh yeh my bad forgot foundation was a thing
i just hope the marks and the papers are fair and everything, i really worked hard for my A in maths and it's one of the proudest grades i have even though i have highers ones because of the amount of effort it took me to get. I wouldnt want other people to be handed the grades but equally they shouldnt be too hard to get
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squeakysquirrel
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(Original post by Notnek)
The grade boundaries have been released for the November 2018 GCSE exams. For Edexcel maths, the higher paper required 37/240 ≈ 15% for a grade 4 which is a "standard pass":



Does anyone think this is a problem? The exam is very hard and 50% of the questions target grades 7-9 so it makes sense that the boundaries are very low, but does achieving an average of around 12/80 in each paper demonstrate enough ability to warrant a pass? You could have a student who is only good at geometry for example and they manage to pick up 12 marks in geometry questions but leave the rest of the paper blank. I doubt many teachers have ever given a "pass" to a student who only gets 12/80 in one of their tests! Does 15% in a hard exam demonstrate a to an employer that an applicant is competent with maths?

If you do think it's a problem, how can this problem be fixed? Should grades 3/4 be removed from the higher paper?
This is absolutely atrocious - it demeans the whole system of exams - 15% for a pass. It is reflective of the stupidity of the British as a nation and the fact that we allow people to concentrate on stupid soft subjects just so they have a certificate.
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NotNotBatman
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When i did my GCSEs , it was about 25% for a C and that was an "easy" paper iirc. If a C is in between a 4 and a 5, then it doesn't seem like there's much difference.

I think more people need to fail and not out of malice, but i think it's a good way to show pupils that they need to work hard and not only in test or school settings (my grades were disappointing and it made me work harder). People often put in little work because "it's easy to get (whatever passing grade) anyway", and if the boundaries go up and the failure rate increases, it stops people from thinking this way and letting that sort of thinking be their norm in life. Now there are people who work really hard to get a 4/5 grade who this would negatively affect and they wouldnt need to do better than this; because they don't need a higher level of the subject and already worked hard; so the solution would be a difficult one.
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Tolgarda
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Huh, and to think that the pass rate for the resits actually dropped for both mathematics and English this year (source: https://www.tes.com/news/gcse-resits-november-2018)!

Anyway, I think that is abysmally low for a passing grade boundary, but it's whatever. After all, it is still a resit cohort, so I wasn't expecting boundaries that were similar to what we got for the exams in summer.
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ltsmith
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if 15% is considered a pass in our education system then our system is a global embarrassment.
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Dysf(x)al
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(Original post by Notnek)
That’s why there is a foundation paper designed for lower abilities but often students aren’t entered for it when they should be. I think I’d prefer three different exams to cater for all abilities e.g.

Foundation : Grades 1-5
Intermediate : Grades 3-7
Higher : Grades 5-9

A student not reaching the minimum grade would receive a U and have to retake. This would encourage more schools to enter students for the correct paper.
I absolutely agree. The issue is that right now with this "4/5 or bust" mentality there is no incentive to take the Foundation paper. If you were a grade 4/5 student, would you rather have to get 15% on the Higher paper (ie you just have to do reasonably well on the questions at your ability), or 80% on the Foundation (ie you have to do reasonably well on the questions at your ability, and make sure you don't run out of time or make silly mistakes on the easier ones)? Maths ability varies hugely (possibly more so than any other subject) so more tiers are probably needed.

It might be possible to combine them all into one paper by having say 10 easy questions worth 4 marks, 10 medium ones worth 6 and 10 hard ones worth 8 and telling people that their best 10 questions will count towards their final score, but that might screw over people who weren't taught exam technique.
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