The DfE released the 2016 Attainment 8 estimates on Monday (27/9), and schools across the country recalculated their Progress 8 scores, previously calculated using the estimates from summer 2015. Schools across the country also found that this made their Progress 8 scores, on the whole, go down, which obviously was disappointing.
What is even more disappointing, however, is the stories I am hearing from Data Managers who are being challenged about the accuracy of their initial Progress 8 calculations, and even being blamed for having ‘got it wrong all year’.
Actually, when you think about it, nobody’s Progress 8 score has ‘gone down’. The score could only be calculated once that year’s provisional “estimates” were released, so in fact on 27/9, when the 2016 provisional estimates were released, your school’s Progress 8 score was calculated for the first time. However, since all schools had been projecting the score using the 2015 estimates, the actual score was lower than some people were expecting.
Before 27/9 your Progress 8 figure calculation was most likely: 2016 exam results (or assessments if looking back through the year) compared with 2015 Attainment 8 estimates, so basically your 2016 cohort’s attainment compared with the attainment of the 2015 national cohort.
Today your Progress 8 figure calculation is: 2016 exam results compared with 2016 Attainment 8 estimates, so basically your 2016 cohort’s attainment compared with the attainment of the same, 2016, national cohort.
Various educational bodies, including the DfE and ourselves, have been warning school leaders against relying on projected Progress 8 scores as a measure of expected student or cohort success, due to the expectation that the Attainment 8 estimates would change. Due to curriculum changes across the country, it was expected that at least the EBacc estimates would go up between 2015 and 2016, so the drop in P8 figure should not be a surprise to anyone.
Below are some charts that show the difference between the estimates based on 2015 national performance, and those recently released based on 2016 national performance:
From these charts we can clearly see that it is the EBacc element attainment that has gone up considerably, and therefore affected the overall estimates. This is due to schools changing their curricula to encourage more students, especially lower ability students, to take the EBacc, as is shown by the comparison between number of slots filled in 2015 and 2016.
One last word of warning. The 2016 estimates released yesterday were provisional. This means there may yet be changes to the national picture, and therefore the estimates, once the September checking exercise has been completed, and remarks have been taken into account.