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Is Grade 3 GCSE a 'Pass' or a 'Fail'?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by LCR1970, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. LCR1970

    LCR1970 New commenter

    I will undoubtedly have students in my tutor group who have worked hard to achieve GCSE grades 1-3 in some subjects. What should I say if they ask me; 'Have I passed?".

    e.g. If a student achieves Grade 3 in French, does this count as ‘Passing GCSE French’?

    Under the old system, I understood that only a U was a fail, but with the new ‘Good Pass’ and ‘Standard Pass’ terminology, I am not sure if grades 1-3 are passes.

    It would be great to hear what other teachers will be saying if asked this question, I have recently returned to the profession and am confused!

    Thank you.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    In terms of the old system of A*-G all being pass grades, this is comparable to all of the new grades 9-1 being passes. As in they have not got a U, ungraded, the only "fail" grade.
    However just as in the past only a C or above was deemed in the eyes of many to be a "pass", so it is true under the new system. But confusingly, as you say, there is a "standard pass" of a grade 4 (linked with the old grade C), and a "good pass" of a grade 5 (which is a comparable high C/low B).
    So the answer is yes, they have passed, but no, they have not met the equivalent of the old grade C level which many considered to be a pass.
    LCR1970, pepper5 and Flanks like this.
  3. install

    install Star commenter

    A grade 1,2 or 3 would not be regarded as a GCSE pass to many. However,.the.student may have met 'their target'. It may sound silly - but the govt have decided for some time now to set targets, even if they do not equate to passes. It may be that the student has done well given 'their starting point'.

    A grade '4' is a pass for the student, but not the school. There is an argument to say that this is more evidence to show that School Targets/League Tables matter more than individual students. Also it may prove that the govt do not really regard a '4' as a real pass.
    catbefriender and LCR1970 like this.
  4. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    But, as one of the points of having GCSEs was to get rid of the old idea of pass/fail except in the most extreme of cases, a 1 is still a pass. The person who decided that a C, which was supposed to be the equivalent of an O-level pass until grade inflation changed it, was the key mark, has caused a lot of problems.
    LCR1970 likes this.
  5. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    It's a level 2 qualification. To have passed the requirement for Level 2 you need to achieve a 5.

    This means you can then access a level 3 qualification.

    All the other guff is just a contrived economy of worth.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    DFE do say there is a 'Pass' grade though, a 4/5. They don't call other grades a "Pass".

    From the DFE Factsheet of new GCSE grading [my emphasis]

    • The Department for Education recognises grade 4 and above as a ‘standard pass’ in all subjects. It is a credible achievement for a young person that should be valued as a passport to future study and employment. Students who do not hold a grade 4 or above in English and maths must continue to study these subjects as part of their post-16 education. This requirement does not apply to other subjects.

    • To continue to raise standards in schools, the Department for Education recognises a grade 5 and above in English or maths as a ‘strong pass’ in its headline school performance measure for English and maths attainment; a benchmark comparable with high performing education systems.
    LCR1970 likes this.
  7. slstrong123

    slstrong123 New commenter

    And if you don't get a 4 in English or Maths you have to retake these at post 16 education.

    Imagine the situation where your target grade for maths is a 3 and you are working hard, trying your best and your school thinks you will meet your target at the end of year 11. But you still have to do the retake at College because you didn't get that magic 4. No wonder students end up with mental health issues...your best efforts and hard work are considered useless.
    pepper5, Piranha, LCR1970 and 2 others like this.
  8. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Except that they do not have to retake GCSE.
    There are alternatives.
    LCR1970 and slstrong123 like this.
  9. LCR1970

    LCR1970 New commenter

    Thanks everyone, I can see that there's no simple, straightforward answer - no wonder I'm confused!
    I'll ask my Head what she'd like us to say if we are asked this by pupils or parents...
    pepper5 and install like this.
  10. LCR1970

    LCR1970 New commenter

    Of course I could try explaining that GCSE 2 and 3 are Level 1 qualification passes, whereas Grades 9-4 are Level 2 qualification passes ... but I think that might just cause my low ability students further confusion!
    phlogiston likes this.
  11. FormosaRed

    FormosaRed Occasional commenter

    I will say " 3 is a gcse pass. But higher and further studies expect at least 4/5 and often higher to get onto their courses."

    We won't be admitting anyone to our A level cohort without a grade 6 in English. They'll struggle with 30 mark essay questions otherwise.
    LCR1970 and strawbs like this.
  12. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    A grade 6 is.... a B+ A- in old money.

    Well, it depends. Some 5s will be ok depending on what they were like. Some bright but ultimately a bit lazy kids will be fine for A level, but don’t achieve as well in GCSE as the hard workers.
  13. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    What an absurd and blatant attempt to be selective and exclusionary.

    We admit students with 4s in English to ALevel and have some of the best results nationally, both in value added and raw grades, every year. The only subject where we require a 5 is ALevel maths, and a 6 if they want to do further maths as well.

    Case in point, my A2 class this year. 22 students, exam is 4 essays worth 40marks each. 17 scored a B or higher, all D or better, and my class was only 11th in the college for high grades/value added.

    If you want children to write, teach them to write in the subject.
  14. maggie m

    maggie m Lead commenter

    I think FormosaRed is being realistic. We do not admit a student to A level science without the old B now a 6 in both Maths and English.Under our previous head we were sometimes pressured to allow students in with lower grades and those weaker students got E's failed or dropped out. There is no point in setting up students to fail. One young lady in particular comes to mind, she and her parents begged us to allow her into A level biology and chemistry as she wanted to be a doctor.We refused she was a worker but learnt everything parrot fashion , had no real understanding and had weak maths skills. By christmas it was clear she was failing and she was making herself ill in trying to cope with the subjects. Ultimately she failed both. She did however get B and C for her other 2 A levels.( humanities)
    LCR1970 likes this.
  15. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    It is unfortunate really. GCSEs can be passed with a good rote learning approach. Science alone is 40% direct recall. But A levels - it is a different game. Much more abstract thinking. Ask a teacher if someone could do A level (regardless of what their GCSE score is) and the teacher will be able to tell you what they are 'really' like in terms of potential. GCSEs are a blunt selection tool. I don't think GCSEs are very good at selecting the borderlines between good for A levels and not. I think teachers are best at doing that. Anyone 6 and upwards, sure. But the 4-6 boundary where some would be good and some would not, that needs a teacher.

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