School leaders advise caution when interpreting this year’s AS and A-Level results

As A-level students receive their results today, school leaders are advising caution when interpreting this year’s results.

According to Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT: “Today is the day when thousands of young people and their families will be hoping that their hard work has paid off. NAHT congratulates everyone receiving their results today. Their emotions will be felt just as much by the school leaders and their teams, who have worked with them throughout the year.

“Across all subjects the proportion of A* and A grades has increased, but in the 13 reformed subjects these outcomes went down. Male students also seem to be closing the attainment gap in the reformed specifications and questions must be asked about why this might be if this continues and more reformed subjects are introduced; perhaps the linear design of the new A levels is better suited to their learning style.

“2017 has been another year of change for school examinations and we have several more years to go before the programme of reforms is complete. We’ve seen AS Level entries fall dramatically because these exams no longer count towards a full A Level. And in many subjects at A Level students’ grades are now entirely dependent on exams at the end of the course. Although nationally A level results appear fairly stable, at school level there will be volatility.

“The important thing, in this period of change, is that everyone with an eye on schools results exercises caution when comparing this year’s data with previous years. It is not a like for like comparison. The context of schools results is complex so any direct comparisons with previous years’ results are unreliable.

“National examinations will never be able to capture all aspects of a student’s progress or all the different ways in which a school contributes to the progress that a student makes. This is why NAHT believes that it is entirely wrong to hold schools to account based on data alone.

“For now, we should celebrate the individual successes of this year’s students and remember to support the pupils who have not got the grades they were hoping for.”

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