Comparable outcomes and comparable progress – An Alps Blog on the value-added performance of the linear A Level subjects in 2017 Alps blog post - view all

As early as August 2017 avid users of the JCQ result pdfs were taking note of the differences in raw results between how subjects that went linear for first examination in 2017 performed when compared to how they performed as modular A Levels in 2016.

The differences were minor as can be seen in the table above.

In this table red shows that the 2017 raw results were higher at a threshold whereas blue demonstrates that the 2016 outcomes were higher.

The largest difference at any threshold was a difference of -4.4% in English Language in terms of achievement at A*-C.

Quite clearly, regardless of how students had found the experience of sitting linear exams, Ofqual’s adherence to ‘comparable outcomes’ had ensured that the 2017 cohort gained very similar raw outcomes to the 2016 cohort in these 13 subjects.

The key question for us at Alps would only be answered during the re-benchmarking process that takes place annually after we receive the national data set from the DfE.

At Alps we are now able to demonstrate that the progress made by students from GCSE to A Level in these same 13 subjects was broadly similar to the progress made by the 2016 A Level cohort.

This is outlined for you in the next table.

Alps methodology will be familiar to most readers, but here are two refreshers:

  1. An Alps score of 1.00 means that on average that set, subject, school or college has achieved value-added progress equivalent to matching the 75th% nationally.
  2. Students make greater progress in some subjects nationally than they do in others, so the Alps scores required to be in the top 25% of each subject nationally varies. Some subjects need a higher score to achieve an Alps Grade 3 (top 25% value-added performance) whereas others require a lower score in order to achieve the same grade.

The scores required for Grade 3 in each of the subjects that went linear for examination in 2017 are very comparable with the Alps grade 3 scores in the same subjects in 2016.

If we discount Art, as at Alps we treat this as 7 separate subjects, which with smaller cohorts are more likely to show variability, none of the other 12 subjects show a greater difference than + or -0.01 in the score needed to gain a Grade 3 when comparing our benchmark based on 2016 national data with our benchmark based on 2017 national data.

Alps clients have complete access to all of our national benchmarks based on 2017 data at both KS4 and post-16 via their Connect portal.

The key message from us at Alps is that schools and college leaders who felt concern that the linear A Levels might make it harder for their students to gain the grades needed to demonstrate outstanding progress nationally need not fear anymore, as the strong probability is that these 13 subjects will perform similarly again in 2018 in terms of outcomes and progress and the new linear subjects in 2018 will perform comparably with how they performed in 2017.


John Philip

Senior Educational Consultant