14 May 2020

Estimating and Ranking in FE


Jonathan Kay, Head of English and Maths at an FE college in the north of England, writes on the challenges of estimating GCSE grades and ranking learners, especially in the context of large cohorts. How do you collect assessment evidence? And how do you rank 5000+ learners?

Jonathan writes:

"On 18th March, the government announced that all GCSE and A level exams would be cancelled for 2020. In the frenzied days afterwards we all wondered what the next steps would be and how we would (or could) follow them.

Well, in the time in between, we’ve had lots of answers, followed by more questions, followed by some answers. And here’s what we know: 

  • Teachers should use all available evidence to provide an estimated grade which they feel students would likely have achieved;
  • Teachers will also rank order students within grades which will be used to rank order all students within each subject/ qualification, within each centre;
  • This will be submitted to the DfE starting from 1st June and grades will be calculated using this data and a range of other data/ information.

This process isn’t easy for anyone, but I would say it is simpler for some schools. Y11 cohorts will likely have had two or more teachers in Y10 and Y11, a range of the required evidence and, for cohorts of 150-200 students, a smaller number of rankings to complete.

In Further Education, some resit cohorts number more than 5000 students. How do you rank 5000 students? This is without taking into account the challenges of English and maths in FE – lessons of 3 hours per week for GCSEs, E&M attendance of around 75-80% and the difficulty of gathering relevant evidence (some colleges can’t hold ‘traditional’ mocks due to massive student numbers)."

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You can view an update on how GCSEs and functional skills will be assessed and awarded in 2020 here.


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