In the first of our Educational Jargon Blog Series, the Get My Grades Team are taking a look at what Progress 8 and Attainment 8 actually mean. We’re going to attempt to break the mystery of this new jargon and explain what these new accountability measures are. Progress 8 and Attainment 8 were introduced to schools in England in 2016 to replace the 5 A*- C percentage method of reporting results. Schools had an option to opt in early from 2015, but what exactly do they mean?

Attainment 8:

This is the average attainment of each pupil in their best eight subjects. For example, for a school with an attainment 8 score of 5, this translates to mean that the average grade for pupils in their 8 best subjects is roughly a C. If the attainment 8 score was a 5.5, this would roughly be halfway between a C and a B. The best English and Maths scores are double weighted (counted twice).

Progress 8:

This is the progress made by each pupil in the same eight subjects. This shows whether students have performed better than expected in their GCSEs. Key Stage 2 results are used to predict student results at the end of Key Stage 4. This is presented as a number that indicates how much more or less progress students make on average. The greater the score, the greater progress that has been made. A score of 0 means that pupils made the expected level of progress.

The Department for Education explain the Progress 8 scores as follows:

  • A score of zero means pupils in this school on average do about as well at Key Stage 4 as other pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • A score above zero means pupils made more progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • A score below zero means pupils made less progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.

A negative score does not mean students made no progress, but that they made less progress than students across England with similar Key Stage 2 results.

It is important to note that not all subjects count towards these new measures. The subjects are split into 3 different groups. Subjects, like Maths and English, are double-weighted (Group 1), then you have the best of up to three further qualifications which count in the English Baccalaureate such as Science, Geography, History or Languages (Group 2) and the three other slots for any other approved academic or vocational qualification (Group 3).

These are fairly complex measures that take a while to calculate, but on the plus side it means that the progress made by all students counts. With the previous A*- C measure, some students were forgotten and the borderline C/D students were pushed to achieve. They are also designed to encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum at KS4.

So, hopefully this gives you a bit more insight as to what Attainment 8 and Progress 8 mean and how to interpret these scores when you come across them. In the next of this blog series we’ll be taking a look at Flipped Learning in greater detail. See you then!

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