In June 2014 I attended a Progress 8 update hosted by Duncan Baldwin of ASCL and Mike Treadaway from the FFT. This is my précis of their presentation. It is intended for users of SIMS Assessment Manager who need to understand the principles behind the new measure. I’m not a curriculum expert, or even a teacher. Any errors are my own, with apologies to Mike and Duncan. Here are some of the key points from the session:

Progress 8 Update

  • Progress 8 is calculated based on the new 1-8 GCSE grades
  • Nationally, for each pupil in the 2014 cohort, the DfE will calculate a decimalised KS2 ‘mean fine grade’ (eg 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 etc)
  • All the pupils attaining a given decimal KS2 average grade (for example 4.5) will be analysed and their average Attainment 8 score will be calculated. The estimates are based on the averages.
  • For example, nationally in 2013, pupils who attained 4.5 at KS2 are estimated to achieve an A8 score of 4.42
  • Schools will need to use a pupil’s KS2 mean fine grade to calculate the expected Attainment 8 estimate for their own pupils. The difference between a pupil’s actual A8 score and the nationally expected A8 score will be the pupil’s P8 score.
  • For example, our pupil with a KS2 mean fine grade of 4.5 went on to achieve an A8 score of 4.62. Hence the pupil’s P8 score is +0.20 (4.62 minus 4.42)
  • School P8 is simply the average of each pupil’s P8.
  • Most schools P8 values will be in the region of -1.50 to +1.5
  • A school will be below the floor if its P8 score is less than -0.50

KS2 mean fine grades

  • The KS2 mean fine grades are not a simple average of KS2 english and maths results.
  • The DfE use a much more accurate KS2 average based on the raw scores
  • The DfE makes this data available for Y11 pupils but not for earlier years (ASCL are trying to change this)
  • Meanwhile FFT do produce a suitable KS2 score as part of their analysis.
  • If a pupil has no KS2 result (because they weren’t in England or Wales at the time or they were at an independent school) – then it is not possible to calculate a P8 score for that pupil.

Attainment 8: Tips and Points to Watch For

  • AS levels always trump GCSEs – even if they’re lower value
  • If a pupil does the same exam twice, early entries are always counted – again, even if they’re lower value
  • Pupils who do an early entry in core science, then do other sciences (eg Biology) – only the initial core science will count
  • Most schools will get higher A8 scores by making sure all the slots (or buckets) are full
  • But some individual pupils will get a higher score by going for fewer subjects – it’s a professional call
  • Three non-GCSEs are allowed in the ‘other’ slots

Opting In to Performance 8: Some Points for Discussion

  • In 2015 schools can opt-in early
  • All schools by 2016
  • Will you be below the floor?
  • How confident are you that your pupils make good progress, across all subjects (not just English and Maths) and across all ability ranges?
  • Current 5+A*-C indicator is a threshold measure. P8 is a measure of progress
  • P8 is a normative measure – your school is being compared with the results other schools achieve in the same year, not against a fixed, unchanging threshold.
  • Hence a ‘good’ P8 score this year might not be a good score next year – because other schools can (and will catch) up.
  • Estimated Attainment 8 score scores for 2013 are available – but beware – a good score against 2013 data is no indicator that you will get a good P8 score in 2014
  • From @Duncan_BaldwinWhether to opt in in 2015 is a nuanced decision – don’t rush!”

Updated 22nd June to clarify the calculation of a school P8 from each individual pupil’s P8 (thanks to Duncan Baldwin)