You will, no doubt, have heard in the media that 2023 has marked a return to sanity in regard to A Levels, reversing the preposterous grade inflation in 2020, 2021 and 2022 which came about due to basing awards on teachers’ assessments, unmoderated. Last year, 2022, the policy to take a “half-way position” was adopted (because, apparently, being only 50% nonsense is OK). Peak-nonsense was attained in 2021. I refer you to my previous posts A Level Awards 2022, A Level Awards 2021 and Their Obfuscation, State Education Dying, Dying….Dead? and A Levels 2020: The Year of Utter Nonsense.
So, is it true that sanity has been restored? Broadly, yes it is.
Data has been taken from Brian Stubbs’ site.
Table 1 below shows the results for the top A* and A grades (wherein the inflation occurred) comparing this year with 2021 and with the pre-Covid years 2019 and 2010. The percentage of pupils, of either sex, gaining A* or A grades this year (2023) is larger than in 2019, but only to a reasonable degree. Admittedly, the percentage being awarded A* is larger than in any previous year (barring 2020-22), for both sexes.
A larger percentage of boys than girls were awarded the top A* grade, as they were in 2019, though this has varied over the years.
However, substantially more girls than boys take A Levels and this has been the case for several decades. Consequently, in terms of actual numbers, there are considerably more girls being awarded A* and A grades in all years.
Table 2 illustrates the gender-bias effect of the nonsense years, showing the excess of A* and A awards to girls over those to boys. In “sensible” years this has been around 20,000 to 26,000, whereas in peak-nonsense (2021) it reached 57,504. This implies that, in 2021, perhaps around 34,000 excess A* or A awards were made to girls over those to boys purely as a result of the bias introduced by using teachers’ assessments. Similar but smaller excess awards of top grades to girls would have occurred in 2020 and 2022.
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