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What Is Progress 8?

The Department for Education will publish the Progress 8 scores next month - but what are they, and why do they matter?

Provisional Progress 8 scores are published in October in time for applications for secondary school placements; final scores are released in January. These are national secondary school league tables, based on date from this summer’s GCSE results. Once published, they will usually create a fair amount of press coverage locally as schools’ scores are shown against each other.

 Progress 8 is a new measure, introduced in 2018. It bands together pupils based on their English and Maths scores in the Key Stage 2 SATs. In GCSE results, six EBacc subjects are chosen and the grades are converted to points using a scale published by the government. English and Maths are worth double points on this scale.

There is an expected points score for each band of children and the school is then ranked based on how their pupils’ scores match up against these expected scores. Schools are given scores, usually ranging from -1 to +1 to show pupil improvement from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school. Although Progress 8 scores are calculated for each individual pupil, this is only to aid in calculating the overall score for the school; individual scores are not usually shared with families.

Progress 8 was introduced to make sure schools weren’t targeting disproportionate resources on the C/D borderline. It is considered to be more fair and a step in the right direction when it comes to secondary school league tables.

Although Progress 8 is more fair than the previous measure, which only counted the number of A*-C grades each school had, there are some criticisms of the new system. One main concern is that in many secondary schools, pupils will take some GCSEs (notably Maths) a year early, and this can disadvantage a school in the league tables. The change in the way grades are mapped also has a disproportionate effect on schools with less able children.

The government has recognised that having a small group of low achievers within a year group could distort results for the whole school. With this in mind, the 2018 league tables will be published with two Progress 8 results - one will show the results in the same format as previous years, but a second will show the results with an adjustment for negative outliers.

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