Secondary school accountability is changing and by 2016 schools will be primarily judged by their Progress 8 score, rather than the proportion of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at A*-C, incl. English and maths. Progress 8 isn’t perfect (no rank order of schools serving different communities can be), but this is indeed progress.
The Department for Education has this week published the list of 327 secondary schools who have decided to opt into the new accountability regime a year early. Only 5% of schools in the North East region opted in; opt-in is highest in the South-East, London and Yorkshire and Humber. No schools in Norfolk or Durham opted-in.
It is perhaps understandable that so few have opted in, not least because it is impossible for schools to predict their likely 2015 Progress 8 score without making assumptions about the extent to which other schools have managed to realign their curriculum to fill the Attainment 8 slots.
But the list of those who have chosen to opt in doesn’t nicely align with incentives to do so (see red crosses on the chart below). Many of them appear to have outstanding GCSE results and yet our estimated 2014 Progress 8 suggests a value around zero. Some with great results on the old and new measure have opted in – Mossbourne, Paddington Academy, King Solomon; but there are others that we calculate have excellent Progress 8 such as City Academy Hackney, Preston Muslim Girls High and Denbigh High School that have not.
Reshuffling the schools who fall below floor standards
The current floor standard at 40% 5+ A*-C captures about 330 schools; the new floor standard of -0.5 Progress 8 (i.e. half a grade below expected in each eligible subject) captures a similar number, but quite different set of schools (we think 138 fall under both). There were 250 schools close to or below the current floor standard (i.e. <=45% A*-C) and yet had a Progress 8 above -0.25 in 2014. Just 41 of these have taken the pragmatic decision that Progress 8 might offer a better chance of avoiding the floor standard.
We think there are 162 schools not currently below the floor that had a Progress 8 below -0.5 in 2014. Bizarrely, one of them has chosen to opt-in early. Let’s hope that their GCSE entry profile and results in 2015 look materially different to 2014, otherwise they’ve inadvertently subjected themselves to a floor standard they could have deferred for another year.
Estimated Progress 8 versus % 5+ A*-C at GCSE in 2014