In January we began a research programme looking at differences across the four reformed and accredited GCSE maths specifications – those of AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC. The work has comprised four strands:
Based on the views of mathematicians, what is the relative mathematical demand of questions in the sample assessment materials of the specifications?
Based on a sample of current Year 11 students sitting the sample assessment materials, what is the relative difficulty of questions across the specifications?
Based on maths experts’ views of students’ model answers, which questions from the specifications elicit the best mathematical problem-solving?
Based on the views of maths experts, how do problem-solving questions vary across the specifications?
We said that we would look to complete our research by the end of April, and we have met that goal. All the data is in from the different strands and we are currently drawing together the findings from across the programme. We have three independent experts looking at the work we’ve done to provide added assurance that the conclusions we are drawing are appropriate. As part of pulling this evidence together we are identifying any actions that we may want to take and we will make those decisions public in mid-May.
Our programme of research has been a huge undertaking. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 35 mathematicians who made 35,000 judgements in strand 1; the 3,865 students who sat papers in 30 different schools and the four principal examiners and 50 markers who marked the papers in strand 2; the 33 maths experts who judged and the 2 classes of students in strand 3 who worked through the problem solving questions; and five maths experts who provided their analysis in strand 4. I’d also like to thank all other teachers, students, and parents for your patience over the past few months while we have completed this important work.
With that said, I’m now going back to looking at the results and working with my colleagues to reach firm decisions before our announcement.
Dr Ian Stockford
Acting Executive Director for General Qualifications, Ofqual