KS4 data - progress and attainment 8


Understanding progress and attainment 8

In order to understand this years’ GCSE results it is important to understand the new progress and attainment 8 measures. If you are comfortable with the new measures, please move on to the headline figures below.

In 2013, the DfE announced a new secondary accountability system which would be implemented from 2016.  This includes two new headline measures, Attainment 8 and Progress 8.  

Attainment 8 is calculated based on the number of points a pupil receives across eight subjects. Rather than receiving a grade of A*-G students will now receive a grade ranging from 1 (being the lowest) to 9 (being the highest). For more information on how this is calculated, and how it relates to the old system, click here.

The eight subjects which count towards the attainment 8 measure are English and Maths, three Ebacc subjects and three other subjects from an approved list.

In calculating the attainment 8 score, English and Maths is double weighted. This means if a pupil  receives a score of 9 in English and an 8 in Maths (making them a very high attaining student) they will receive a score of 18 for English and 16 for Maths. No other subject is double weighted.  If a pupil does not take eight subjects which count towards attainment 8 they will receive a point score of zero for any slot that is empty.

Progress 8 aims to capture the progress of pupils from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school.  Progress 8 compares pupil results to the achievement of other pupils and is calculated based on a pupils actual attainment 8 score minus their estimated attainment 8 score. For 2016, a pupil’s prior attainment is calculated based on their average ‘fine grade’ KS2 English and Maths results. Progress 8 will only apply to students that have comparable KS2 and KS4 data.

For more information, see the DfE release here.

On Wednesday 19 January 2017 the department for education (DfE) released revised data on key stage 4 results for the 2015/2016 academic year. If you are a governor or trustee of a secondary school, this data is useful in order to benchmark your school against the national average. As many schools will be using attainment and progress 8 for the first time this year, this is particularly useful as there is no transferable data to compare to previous years. NGA has produced a detailed overview of this year’s results to assist those look at the data on a technical level.

Headline figures

This year, the attainment figure for 5 or more A*-C grades (including English and Maths) is 56.8% for state schools, compared to 56.1% last year. However, this is no longer a headline measure and will not count in the performance tables. The headline figures, alongside the national results, are as follows in state schools:

  • the average attainment 8 score  per pupil is 49.9 in state funded schools
  • the average percentage of students achieving A*-C in English and Maths is 63.0%
  • the percentage of students entering the Ebacc is 39.7%
  • the percentage of students achieving the Ebacc is 24.7%

Breakdown of results by subject area

The data also goes into more detail about the results, specifically relating to Ebacc qualifications. In order to “pass” an award, students must achieve A*-C. The data is broken down by ‘Ebacc qualification’:

  • To receive the Ebacc English qualification, students must achieve either a pass in the combined English GCSE or a pass in the English Language GCSE or the English literature GCSE, with entries into both. The number of pupils entered for the English Ebacc remains stable at 96.5%. The number of students achieving the Ebacc English is 74.8%. To receive the Ebacc Maths qualification, students must pass the Maths GCSE or equivalent approved qualification – students can also achieve this Ebacc by passing one element of GCSE ‘Maths linked pairs’.  For 2016, 97.3% of pupils were entered for the Maths Ebacc and 68.3% of students achieved the award, compared to 68% in 2015.
  • To receive the Ebacc science qualification, students must take either three individual science GCSE’s; the core and additional science GCSE or the double science GCSE. For 2016, 86.8% of students were entered, a 12.4% increase compared to last year. The attainment rate has dropped to 63.8% from 69.1% compared to last year.
  • To receive the Ebacc humanities qualification, students must achieve a pass in either the geography GCSE or the history GCSE. While 73.7% of students were entered for the award, an increase of 8.2 compared to 2015, attainment has fallen from 67.2% to 63.9%.
  • To receive the Ebacc languages qualification, students must achieve a pass in any language on the Ebacc approved list. 49% of students were entered for the award – with only 4.4% being entered for more than one Ebacc language (low take up of language GCSE’s is an issue that education Datalab has flagged in its analysis of the KS4 results). This year, 70.0% of those entered achieved the Ebacc languages award – which is relative to last year.
  • For arts and design subjects (which include Applied Art and Design, Art and Design, Drama, Media/Film/TV, Music, Dance and Performing Arts) 47.9% of students entered for at least one of these qualifications, down by 1.7% compared to last year.

 The two diagrams below (taken directly from the data release) provide a bit more information on attainment 8 by subject area and also the new progress 8 measure.



Further trends

Pupils are entering more qualifications, and for pupils with low prior   attainment, more of them are GCSEs

The data also highlights some trends which may be interesting for governors and trustees. Firstly, schools seem to be adapting their curricular  to match the new headline figures. The attainment 8 measure consists of 8 “slots” – essentially subjects, three of which must be Ebacc qualifications (see box diagram for more information).

The data shows that students are, on average, taking 2.7 Ebacc subjects compared to 2.4 last year. Pupils with low prior attainment only took an average of 1.9 Ebacc subjects. This is compared to their high attaining peers who took an average of 3 Ebacc subjects.

The figures also suggest that pupils with lower prior attainment are being entered for more qualifications than last year. Pupils are, on average, taking 9.4 qualifications, 91% of which are GCSEs. The average number of qualifications being taken by pupils with low prior attainment has increased from 6.4 in 2014 to 7.6 in 2016 – 87% of which are GCSEs, an increase of 5% compared to last year.

In terms of the Ebacc, however, the number of pupils with poor prior attainment being entered remains low. Only 8.3% of pupils with poor prior attainment were entered for the Ebacc this year, rising to 35.2% of those with average prior attainment and 66.9% of those pupils with high prior attainment. The number of pupils with low prior attainment who achieve the Ebacc after being entered was 10.9%. This rose substantially to 42.7% for those with average prior attainment and 82.5% for those with high prior attainment. 

Finally, the data also suggests some variation between boys and girls, with 59.0% of boys attaining A*-C in English and Maths (compared to 67.0% for girls); 34.4% of boys (compared to 45.2% for girls) being entered for the Ebacc; and 19.6% of boys achieving the Ebacc (compared to 30.0% for girls). As well as disparity by gender, some local authorities also performed better than others. Between the highest and lowest performing local authority, there was a 19.7 points range in terms of attainment 8; a 38.6% gap in the number of pupils achieving A*-C in English and Maths; a 39.3% gap in the number of pupils achieving the Ebacc; and a 39.3% gap in the percentage achieving 5 or more A*-C including English and Maths.

Published: 14/10/2016, by Sam Henson
Last Updated: 20/01/2017, by Tom Fellows