It’s been three whole years since we’ve had exam results in England, and what a three years it has been. Today sees the release of A-Level results across the country, and a bit of digging shows some intriguing trends.
The CAGs and TAGs process through 2020 and 2021 saw huge grade inflation at both A-Level and in GCSEs. Ofqual set a goal this year of reducing those gains by half, then returning to 2019 levels by next year. Largely they seem to have been successful in this aim.
Sam Freedman has written a sensible article on the grade inflation that took place, the return to exams and why, love them or hate them, they are the fairest system we have. A level 2022 results: Exams may be an imperfect system – but it’s the fairest one we have (tes.com)
Professor Lindsey Macmillan has analysed the overall change in grades this year and dug into the differences between different centre types. An interesting read, particularly around the differences in how much different institution types have or have not reduced their previous gains. Turbulence on the glide path: A-level results 2022 | UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO)
FFT have analysed the differences in each subject in some depth. A-Level results 2022: The main trends in grades and entries – FFT Education Datalab
I wanted to dig into the regional differences in more detail. I was particularly interested to see if there was evidence for regional differences this year due to the impact of variable Covid rates around the country over the past two years.
Ofqual have released grade outcomes by county in England.
Looking at A* grades by county I have calculated the percentage increase in these grades from 2019-21, and then the proportion of that gain removed from 2021-22.
2019-21 Changes: I am struck by the variance in both changes. Increases through CAGs & TAGs range from Hampshire who saw a near doubling in A* grades with a 99% increase, all the way up to a 250% increase in Northamptonshire. These large regional variances had passed me by previously. It would be interesting to see a more detailed analysis looking at what could have caused these differences to be so big. Institution types in that county? Regionally organised moderation? Covid rates?
2021-22 Changes: There is considerable variation here too. Most counties see around 40-50% of the previous gains removed, which is exactly in line with the target that Ofqual had set themselves. But again there is variance. Hampshire only saw 9% of their previous gains lost, yet the Isle of White lost 73% of their previous gains. These are two small counties, but the differences between larger ones are not insignificant. For these again I can only hypothesise about the reasons for such differences. Covid rates? Affluence and access to tutoring etc? Does this show which regions pivoted to online learning with the greatest success back in 2020/21? I have far more questions than answers here and look forward to more detailed analysis from others that may help answer this.
This graph shows the degree of variance from county to county. With the x-axis showing grade inflation from 2019-21 and the y-axis showing gain removed from 2021-22.
The picture is much the same when looking at A&A* grades, not just A*:
If you would like to poke around with the numbers you can download my working here. Or better still head over to Ofqual yourself and take it from the source.
There are considerable regional differences in A-Level results this year. The reasons for these are complex and unclear at this stage. It is likely that the variances at institution level are even more extreme, we’ll have to wait for more granular data to see this. It’s also likely that this pattern will be replicated next week with GCSE results.
With this variance throughout the system it is more important than ever that school, academy & MAT leaders, RSCs, Ofsted and others use the data that is published with extreme caution. School leaders, please take the approach the TEAL Trust have done this yearwhen ‘promoting’ your results. Ofsted & co, please take the advice of the DfE about not comparing schools using this data.
Originally published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/a-level-results-2022-regional-analysis-daniel-stucke/