//The impact of ECDL on Progress 8 scores

The impact of ECDL on Progress 8 scores

By |2018-02-23T13:00:32+00:0014th November 2016|Exams and assessment, School accountability|

We have written previously about how the points awarded to the European Computer Driving Licence in school performance tables appeared to be out-of-kilter with other qualifications, given the grades achieved by ECDL entrants in GCSEs they took. And Data Educator has subsequently written more on the topic. (To give it its full title, we’re talking about the BCS Level 2 ECDL Certificate in IT Application Skills.)

In 2016, the proportion of pupils completing Key Stage 4 who were entered for this qualification reached almost one-in-five[1].

In this blogpost we examine the impact it has had on schools’ Progress 8 scores.

In order to do this, we firstly rescale the points awarded to pupils entered for ECDL using the values in the table below. For each ECDL grade, for those pupils who achieved that grade we have calculated the average point score in all GCSEs for which they were entered – these figures are given in the rescaled points column. Clearly there are lots of other ways it could be done.

Grade Current points Rescaled points
Starred distinction 8 5.3
Distinction 7 4.6
Merit 6 4.3
Pass 5 4.0


We then recalculate Progress 8 (P8) scores with these rescaled ECDL points. The scatterplot below shows the change in schools’ P8 scores as a result of the rescaling plotted against the percentage of pupils entered for ECDL.


As can be seen, some schools with a high percentage of ECDL entry see a change in their P8 score of almost -0.2. However, the impact for other schools with similar rates is lower, not even changing by -0.1 in some cases. The scores of 123 schools changed by more than 0.15.

Meanwhile P8 scores for schools with zero, or very low, ECDL entry rates tend to increase slightly.

The impact on the numbers of schools below the proposed floor standard of -0.5 is not so great. Of the 294 schools that, based on provisional Key Stage 4 data, are below the floor standard, 20 schools would lift themselves above it if ECDL was rescaled. However, another 26 schools would fall below it.

In summary then, ECDL had a noticeable impact on the P8 scores of a small number of schools in 2016. We would strongly argue in support of greater comparability in performance measures of different subjects and qualifications.

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[1] Pupils who completed Key Stage 4 in a state-funded, mainstream secondary school.



About the Author:

Dave Thomson is chief statistician at FFT with over fifteen years’ experience working with educational attainment data to raise attainment in local government, higher education and the commercial sector. His current research interests include linking education and workplace datasets to improve estimates of adult attainment and study the impact of education on employment and benefits outcomes.


  1. David Fitzsimmons 14 November, 2016 at 11:50 am - Reply

    So do we know what the impact of such modelling is on the schools, who were not offering ECDL or other vocational?

    • Pete 15 November, 2016 at 9:14 am - Reply

      “Meanwhile P8 scores for schools with zero, or very low, ECDL entry rates tend to increase slightly.”

  2. Sam Williams 14 November, 2016 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Great evidence for those of who did not take the ECDL. Have you got any evidence which shows the impact of the English iGCSE compared to schools that took the English Language and English Literature GCSE course?

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