Education in Britain has seen many dramatic changes and the last decade has seen these accelerate. There is fierce debate about each and every one. These arguments do not concern us and largely we simply work within the landscape we inhabit; and just get on with it.
Progress 8 is arguably one of the changes that has a strong principle of fairness about it.
What is it?
If you want to read more detail about the background and nature of the progress 8 changes click on the link below.
Progress, rather than simply measuring attainment is at the heart of this measure. In the past an academic school that achieved 100% 5A*-C grades would have been seen as a fantastically successful school. This is no longer the case. Progress 8 challenges the fundamentals of simply reporting attainment. If these children were all coming with prior attainment measures that said they were all A* students across all subjects the C and the B grades would represent academic failure of these children by the school.
Progress 8 calculates a score for the student across the best 10 subjects (the ‘8’ comes from the fact English and Maths are double weighted). The actual outcome of the students in Year 11 are then calculated (their final GCSE grades) against this expected outcome. The outcome is a decimalised score. If it is a negative number then the child has underachieved, a zero, they have met their expected outcomes and a positive exceeded them.
Schools that played games with certain subjects that had values over the single GCSE scores have now been stopped (so an ICT First National Award that in the past was counted as being up to 4 GCSEs has no such value today).
The system is clear. If Britain is to rise up the PISA tables (comparisons across the globe with school outcomes) then this is a strong step in this direction. It rewards strong academic subjects and makes schools face these challenges rather than dodge them