Setting the grade standards in the first year of the new GCSEs

Reformed GCSEs in English, English Literature and Mathematics are being introduced for first teaching from September 2015 with the first examinations in summer 2017. Other subjects are being reformed to start the following year with first examinations in summer 2018. The new specifications will be assessed linearly, will have revised subject content and will have a numerical 9-point grade scale. This paper looks at the results of simulations that were carried out to inform how the new grading scale for GCSEs will work. It discusses the pitfalls associated with various ways of implementing the new grade scale, highlights potential problems that could arise and evaluates the final decisions made by Ofqual. The paper focuses specifically on issues relating to the transition year and not subsequent years.

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