An "intermediate" tier should be brought back for GCSE maths

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Sir Cumference
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https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/276110 (not created by me)

For 9-1 GCSE maths in England there are two exams:

Foundation: Available grades U, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Higher : Available grades U, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

For the higher paper, 50% of the marks are targeted at grades 4-6 and 50% are targeted at grades 7-9. This has meant that grade 4/5 students are not able to demonstrate their ability in over half of the paper and this has led to grade boundaries of below 20% for grade 4. However hard an exam is, getting less than 20% does not demonstrate enough mathematical ability to achieve a passing grade in my opinion.

Some may argue that this is what the foundation paper is designed for but when schools are seeing such low boundaries for the higher paper you can understand why they would choose it for their grade 4/5 students.

Proposal : create an intermediate paper (like there has been in the past). Possible structure

Foundation: Available grades U, 1, 2, 3, 4
Intermediate : Available grades U, 4, 5, 6, 7
Higher : Available grades U, 6, 7, 8, 9

Possible downsides : cost, more confusion, more U grades and retakes
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_gcx
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not sure how grade boundaries are set for foundation and higher. If they're all set "together" (ie. all weighted, so that people aren't disadvantaged by fewer low ability/borderline candidates sitting the higher paper) I think that'd be fine. The problem is if a school underestimates a pupil and enters them into intermediate, (thinking maybe that they're a grade 6 student and therefore would fair best on intermediate tier, but really they're a grade 8 student and might need that grade for A-level FM) they're locking themselves out of a grade that they may well be capable of. There are also problems with overestimation. Some schools may think someone has a good chance at a 6 so enters them for higher, but then has bad days and gets a U instead of the 5 they'd have achieved on a lower tier. I don't think this is as much of a problem when you just have foundation/higher.
Last edited by _gcx; 1 year ago
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Arran90
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Discussions with employers have revealed that there is too much confusion with mathematics grades - a C can mean almost anything. So will a 5 under the new grading system. What they prefer is:

1. A qualification (not a GCSE) based around arithmetic, money calculations, and everyday maths.

2. A qualification (a GCSE) based around real maths - like algebra, trigonometry etc.

Every student will take #1 regardless of their ability, but only higher ability students will take #2 as it will only be available at higher level.
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Tolgash
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(Original post by Arran90)
Discussions with employers have revealed that there is too much confusion with mathematics grades - a C can mean almost anything. So will a 5 under the new grading system. What they prefer is:

1. A qualification (not a GCSE) based around arithmetic, money calculations, and everyday maths.

2. A qualification (a GCSE) based around real maths - like algebra, trigonometry etc.

Every student will take #1 regardless of their ability, but only higher ability students will take #2 as it will only be available at higher level.
So they prefer Functional Skills maths and GCSE maths?

The IB already do something similar with their Diploma Programme's new maths curriculum, but this is more for A Level-standard maths.

Sir Cumference I like this idea. Time to bump the thread.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Tolgarda)
So they prefer Functional Skills maths and GCSE maths?
Yes. Higher level is designed to prepare students for the A Level and Level 3 courses, or for students who desire knowledge of real maths or want a career that uses real maths, whereas if students want a job working in a restaurant or as a carpet fitter then most employers are only interested in their numeracy ability and not how good they are at 3D trigonometry or factorising polynomials.

It's horses for courses and the old CSE and O Level qualifications provided two good horses for these different courses that the GCSE doesn't.
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Tolgash
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(Original post by Arran90)
Yes. Higher level is designed to prepare students for the A Level and Level 3 courses, or for students who desire knowledge of real maths or want a career that uses real maths, whereas if students want a job working in a restaurant or as a carpet fitter then most employers are only interested in their numeracy ability and not how good they are at 3D trigonometry or factorising polynomials.

It's horses for courses and the old CSE and O Level qualifications provided two good horses for these different courses that the GCSE doesn't.
Functional Skills = good substitute for CSE.

GCSE = substitute for O Level.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Tolgarda)
GCSE = substitute for O Level.
Not at foundation or the now defunct intermediate levels. They were intended as the replacements for the CSE.
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Tolgash
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(Original post by Arran90)
Not at foundation or the now defunct intermediate levels. They were intended as the replacements for the CSE.
Okay, but you can't deny that Functional Skills is the CSE substitute.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Tolgarda)
Okay, but you can't deny that Functional Skills is the CSE substitute.
True. However my proposal is to have it, or a similar qualification:

1. As a recognised qualification by employers for basic jobs.

2. Every secondary school student to take the exam regardless of their ability.

3. The maths GCSE is only available at higher level and is only taken by students who are of sufficiently high ability and have an interest in learning real maths.
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Arran90
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Take into account that when intermediate level existed it was a bit more advanced than today's foundation level with a few real maths topics, and the old foundation level was just primary school maths and easier than the KS2 SATS exam.

It could be argued that today's foundation level superseded the old intermediate level, and the old foundation level has been discontinued as a GCSE.
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999tigger
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Disagree you should have 3 maths exams, but think the foundation should have the scope to go up to 6, which is whats needed for A level.
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999tigger
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(Original post by ltsmith)
if someone wants to do A Level they should have studied the full extent of the GCSE imo
They arent given a choice though.
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1st superstar
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(Original post by Sir Cumference)
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/276110 (not created by me)

For 9-1 GCSE maths in England there are two exams:

Foundation: Available grades U, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Higher : Available grades U, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

For the higher paper, 50% of the marks are targeted at grades 4-6 and 50% are targeted at grades 7-9. This has meant that grade 4/5 students are not able to demonstrate their ability in over half of the paper and this has led to grade boundaries of below 20% for grade 4. However hard an exam is, getting less than 20% does not demonstrate enough mathematical ability to achieve a passing grade in my opinion.

Some may argue that this is what the foundation paper is designed for but when schools are seeing such low boundaries for the higher paper you can understand why they would choose it for their grade 4/5 students.

Proposal : create an intermediate paper (like there has been in the past). Possible structure

Foundation: Available grades U, 1, 2, 3, 4
Intermediate : Available grades U, 4, 5, 6, 7
Higher : Available grades U, 6, 7, 8, 9

Possible downsides : cost, more confusion, more U grades and retakes
good idea (but obviously make it so that a 4 is a "Strong pass" but 3 is still not a pass)
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Evil Homer
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(Original post by ltsmith)
no

abolish all tiers and make everyone sit the same paper, ranging from 1-9 like almost every other subject

what is the point of sitting a paper capped at a 4? you might aswell not sit it if the max grade is a fail...
A 4 isn't a fail, a 4 is a pass.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by Sir Cumference)
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/276110 (not created by me)

For 9-1 GCSE maths in England there are two exams:

Foundation: Available grades U, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Higher : Available grades U, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

For the higher paper, 50% of the marks are targeted at grades 4-6 and 50% are targeted at grades 7-9. This has meant that grade 4/5 students are not able to demonstrate their ability in over half of the paper and this has led to grade boundaries of below 20% for grade 4. However hard an exam is, getting less than 20% does not demonstrate enough mathematical ability to achieve a passing grade in my opinion.

Some may argue that this is what the foundation paper is designed for but when schools are seeing such low boundaries for the higher paper you can understand why they would choose it for their grade 4/5 students.

Proposal : create an intermediate paper (like there has been in the past). Possible structure

Foundation: Available grades U, 1, 2, 3, 4
Intermediate : Available grades U, 4, 5, 6, 7
Higher : Available grades U, 6, 7, 8, 9

Possible downsides : cost, more confusion, more U grades and retakes
The old Intermediate was not structured like that; the grades were more like E,D,C, B.

It's the weighting between different graded questions that's causing a challenge for 3/4/5/6 students
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Arran90
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(Original post by 999tigger)
Disagree you should have 3 maths exams, but think the foundation should have the scope to go up to 6, which is whats needed for A level.
Except that almost all colleges only admit students onto mathematics (and often physics) A Level courses who have studied mathematics to higher level at GCSE (or can otherwise demonstrate knowledge and proficiency) because knowledge of real maths topics from the higher level is essential in order to study these A Levels.
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999tigger
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(Original post by Arran90)
Except that almost all colleges only admit students onto mathematics (and often physics) A Level courses who have studied mathematics to higher level at GCSE (or can otherwise demonstrate knowledge and proficiency) because knowledge of real maths topics from the higher level is essential in order to study these A Levels.
Except this is theoretical and JCQ would simply alter the content to take that into account. Thanks though.
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Arran90
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(Original post by 999tigger)
Except this is theoretical and JCQ would simply alter the content to take that into account. Thanks though.
Like make the intermediate level have 90% of the curriculum content of the current higher level with questions of similar difficulty. That's the only way that it will adequately prepare students for the A Level course.

The higher level will have to be altered as a result and include additional topics including several of those from the existing A Level syllabus such as calculus.

IMO the reformed higher level mathematics GCSE is the most academically rigorous syllabus since the days of O Levels in the 1980s and is possibly more so than the IGCSE is.
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Tolgash
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(Original post by ltsmith)
no

abolish all tiers and make everyone sit the same paper, ranging from 1-9 like almost every other subject

what is the point of sitting a paper capped at a 4? you might aswell not sit it if the max grade is a fail...
A grade 4 is not a fail, and grades 1-9 are not fail grades either. The government's minimum standard for numeracy and literacy is simply a pass at grade 4, not necessarily a pass at grade 3, because they believe to pass with a grade 4 shows a pass with enough proficiency in those skills to go into employment.

(Original post by Arran90)
The higher level will have to be altered as a result and include additional topics including several of those from the existing A Level syllabus such as calculus.
OCR's FMSQ (additional maths) already allows students to study topics like calculus at GCSE level.

(Original post by Arran90)
...and is possibly more so than the IGCSE is.
If you've seen CIE's 9-1 maths syllabus, it's very similar to the other reformed GCSE maths syllabi. I think they are definitely on equal footing.
Last edited by Tolgash; 1 year ago
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_gcx
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(Original post by ltsmith)
no

abolish all tiers and make everyone sit the same paper, ranging from 1-9 like almost every other subject

what is the point of sitting a paper capped at a 4? you might aswell not sit it if the max grade is a fail...
There's just too broad of a spectrum of abilities. Someone with a learning difficulty that can just about access the foundation paper wouldn't have a chance of scoring on a higher paper. If you were to combine them both together, that may work but it'd make a long exam and would be quite demotivating for people who can only answer part of the first half, and a waste of time for people who find the first half very easy. (say, students aiming for a 6 or above)
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