Inter-subject comparability of examination standards in GCSE and GCE in England

Results from Rasch analysis of GCSE and GCE A level data over a period of four years suggest that the standards of examinations in different subjects are not consistent in terms of the levels of the latent trait specified in the Rasch model required to achieve the same grades. Variability in statistical standards between subjects exists at both individual grade level and the overall subject level. Findings from this study are generally consistent with those from previous studies using similar statistical models. It has been demonstrated that the alignment of statistical standards between subjects based on the Rasch model would likely result in substantial change in performance standards of the examinations for some subjects evidenced here by significant changes in grade boundary scores and grade outcomes. It is argued that the defined purposes of GCSE and A level qualifications determine how their results should be interpreted and reported and that the existing grading and results reporting procedures are appropriate for supporting these purposes.

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