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Year 10 exams results - why use + and -?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by s4rah77, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. s4rah77

    s4rah77 New commenter

    I am hoping a teacher might be able to explain why end of year 10 exams results are graded a 2- or 3+ rather than just a 2 or 3? Thanks
  2. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    I guess that they're saying a low 2, a high 3...
  3. s4rah77

    s4rah77 New commenter

    Thanks. In reality rather than a 3+ I'd prefer to how many marks the child would need to achieve the next grade. Is it acceptable to ask teachers for the child's answer papers?
  4. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    It would be good practice for students to get their papers back, if only so they could work through any areas of weakness. There would be no harm in asking.
    Stiltskin likes this.
  5. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I work as a private tutor so see pupils from many different schools. Some schools return the papers and give actual marks whereas others just give grades. I haven't come across the +/- although back in the days of levels for KS3 they would often use 6a, 6b and 6c.
  6. thecagedbird

    thecagedbird New commenter

    As exam boards change the grade boundaries every year schools are pretty much guessing.
  7. s4rah77

    s4rah77 New commenter

    In most of the subjects they didn't sit all the papers so I don't see how it can be a fair assessment. For example, they sat one science paper, 2 maths papers, 2 RS, one Geography, one English literature and one English language. I'm unsure how they can grade based on the outcome of 1 or 2 out of 3/4 GCSE papers that you'd sit in total for that subject.
  8. thecagedbird

    thecagedbird New commenter

    Maybe you should explain why you want to know this so people have some context?

    Schools mark work to give students an idea of their current work/ grade this is based on teachers professional judgement. I don’t understand why you seem to have a problem with this?

    Most English teachers (for example) would be able to mark one essay for English literature and accurately inform a student about a rough grade boundary of the type you seem to be describing e.g. they are working at top of a grade 3 near to grade 4 (3+) or they are working above a grade 5 but are only just around a grade 6 (6-) etc. Obviously a teacher isn’t predicting what would happen in the real exam in this instance as they can’t predict what would happen if a candidate left a whole question uncompleted. But they can assess the work in front of them.

    Teachers are professionals who have access to mark schemes from exam boards, sample answers from exam boards, have marked many student pieces of work, attended moderation of work, some teachers will actually be examiners/ senior examiners for exam boards.
  9. s4rah77

    s4rah77 New commenter

    I'm trying to help a family member who has fallen behind and will be due to start year 11 in September. I know it's going to be an uphill struggle and have been trying to work out if I work with them over the summer it might help to ensure they get a pass next summer. I have no idea as to whether it is achievable to go from a 3 (Maths) and a 3/2+ in English to a 4/5 by next summer.
  10. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    In my experience it depends very much on the motivation of the student. If they really want to do well they can make a lot of progress with help from a good tutor. If they can't be bothered there is nothing much you can do.
  11. s4rah77

    s4rah77 New commenter

    Thanks, I'll pass on all your comments. I've just been helping out really but not being qualified makes me worry that I might be doing more harm than good. I've literally been going over the spec and with a fine tooth comb and using past papers but I'm not sure that's going to be enough.
  12. atwoodfan

    atwoodfan New commenter

    We also use the + and - system as it gives students and hopefully families an idea of where they are.
    Normally, we would expect a student who works reasonably well to be able to go up between half a grade and a grade between Y10 and Y11. So 2+ to 3+.
    To go up more than this is possible, but hard work... Over the next year, students get more teaching, more exam practise and hopefully more motivation!
    Definitely worth asking for the assessments/ a copy. Then you can identify skills and knowledge gaps. Or was exam timing the problem?
    I hope it goes well.
  13. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I'd be inclined to ask the teachers for their advice, rather than just the test papers. They should have a good idea of the student's capabilities, weaknesses, and whether some hard work over the summer is likely to help them catch up. They'll also know what is going to be covered (again) next term and what isn't, so that you don't spend ages on something that actually they're going to do more on in October.

    It makes sense that they might only have done one paper: if you've only done half the geography course, there's little point in sitting a paper on the other half. There might also be subtle differences in what those grades mean. 3 in geography might mean they've got a 3 on a paper covering only the material they've covered so far, so they would only expect to go up much if they put in extra work on those topics and do better on the remaining ones. 3 in maths might mean they've got a 3 on a paper covering the full syllabus, so they would very likely improve on that as they cover more topics. We can't know exactly what this school have given them.
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I assume you are talking about a particular school, as I don't think all have the same policy. So the best solution would be to ask them. My guess would be that they are avoiding the rigid grade boundaries. 3+ would indicate the top end of the 3 range, so a 4 is in sight; 3- would be towards the bottom end, suggesting that it could easily be a 2.

    In terms of the number of papers, obviously they wouldn't have covered a lot of the course, so couldn't do all of them, so the grade has to be based on what they have covered. I am puzzled by your use of the word "fair". This is the best the school can do in terms of saying where Year 10 students are. It has no importance in the longer term.

    But, as has been pointed out, the most important thing is to know how to move up. If this student is prepared to work hard, then it is quite possible to pick up by a grade or two. Under the old system, I had a student who started year 10 as C/D borderline, finished that year with a C and got an A in her GCSE (Maths). What made the difference was a sudden realisation that she could do it and a determination to do so.
  15. s4rah77

    s4rah77 New commenter

    I know in previous years they have given out sheets with traffic light colours to indicate areas where their knowledge is solid or need more work on. However, this wasn't given out until after their Year 11 mocks. From what my niece is telling me they are being sent home with booklets to work on over the summer but then she said they are having to redo the tests they were given so as yet I'm unsure what she'll bring home. I think the work we've done together on Maths has made a massive difference already. Her last test was a 1+ and she's gone up to a 3. I'm really struggling with English, from what I can gather she writes a load of waffle that doesn't actually answer the question. I know she struggles with Romeo and Juliet. She can't seem to find what she needs in the extract question. I don't know if it's a lack of knowledge of the overall texts that they cover. If you're in the lower sets how well are they expected to do? I've searched high and low online to see if I can find anything that might help but the only examples I seem to be able to find are 'How to get a grade 9' videos etc. I desperately want to try and help her to get a 4 and a 5 would be great.
  16. lynne33

    lynne33 New commenter

    If doing AQA, I would focus on descriptive and narrative writing and then writing articles/letters/speeches using argue/persuade/explain your point of view. Work on basic planning of responses, ambitious vocabulary, punctuation and basic language features. The two writing questions are the key to passing the exams.
  17. s4rah77

    s4rah77 New commenter

    The exam board is EDUQAS which makes it tricky because the majority of exam help I find online is for AQA.

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