# Using SIMS to Convert to New GCSE Grades 1-8

Over the summer months I’m sure many SIMS Assessment Manager users in secondary schools will be grappling with the new GCSE grades and also with the new Progress 8 measure. The immediate problem for many schools will be ‘how do we move from the old A*-G grades to the new GCSE grades 1-8. Luckily SIMS Assessment Manager provides us with the flexibility and configurability to cope. I’ve blogged previously about using grade sets to convert grades from one format to another but here is a better technique from Gary Skelton from St Simon Stock RC School in Maidstone – LOOKUP tables.

### What is a LOOKUP Table?

Several years ago there was a trend in education for what used to be referred to as ‘age standardised scores’. The idea was that a standard test would result in a range of scores between 0 and 20. But the final grade or score was adjusted to take account of the pupils age. So a test score of (say) 7 would produce a score of 84 for a pupil who was 11 years and 3 months old, but only score of 83 for a pupil who was 11 years and 7 months old.

The lookup formula simply linked the column that contained the input score (105) to the relevant LOOKUP table. SIMS would calculate the pupil’s age on the day of the test, and the age standardise score would be calculated.

### Using LOOKUP Tables to Convert to New GCSE Grades

If we ignore the ‘age related’ element to lookup tables, they provide the ideal way to convert from old to new GCSEs – we input the old GCSE grade into the LOOKUP formula and out pops the new GCSE point grade. Gary’s technique allows us to by-pass the age related part of the formula and simply convert from old to new GCSE grades. First, we need to create the LOOKUP table: Focus | Assessment | Lookup Tables | New Complete the table as per this screenshot:

### Using a Lookup Table in a Lookup Formula

Here’s how the formula is used:

In the example above ‘Max Ebacc 1’ is a column aspect A*-G. The formula will return a marks-integer in the range 1-8. Use a MARKS TO GRADE formula to convert the marks-integer result into a 1-8 grade aspect to facilitate better analysis in a marksheet.

It’s a Friday afternoon and I have a horrible feeling I might be making a fool of myself commenting on this, or that I’ve missed something…but isn’t the whole point that the new numeric grades are NOT simply equivalents of the current ones? The bottom of the current grade ‘C’ will be equivalent to the bottom of new grade 4 (not 5), but other than that there will be no equivalence.

No you’ve not missed anything! The Progress 8 guide issued by the DfE (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/314294/Progress_8_measure_in_2016.pdf) gives us an equivalence table (page 15) that pretty clearly says an old C is a new 5 but that’s only for 2016. In 2017, when the new grade 9 is introduced for English and Maths, everything is up for grabs again and yes, grade boundaries won’t be so clear cut. But for now I can’t think past 2016!

Yes, I see what you mean: when the Attainment 8 and Progress 8 scores are calculated, a GCSE ‘C’ will be worth 5 points, a ‘D’ will be worth 4, etc, and for this purpose using a lookup table might be useful. That’s not quite what I understood ‘New GCSE Grades 1-8’ to be referring to.

I am currently calculating both Attainment 8 and Progress 8 for our KS4 cohorts (the Y11 cohort won’t be measured on this, but it may provide a useful comparison). For the Progress 8 I am using the Attainment 8 estimates based on 2013 data that you linked to somewhere else on your site (unfortunately I don’t have a record of where) – thank you very much, that was very useful! (As you point out, the national Attainment 8 scores will rise as schools adapt to the new measures.)