Two things jump out of the provisional 2018 Progress 8 scores published by the Department for Education today.

The first is that schools which entered all (or the vast majority) of their pupils in ECDL have tended to see their scores fall.

The second is that the method of capping “extremely negative” pupil-level Progress 8 scores makes very little practical difference to the vast majority of schools.

The impact of ECDL

The European Computer Driving Licence, or ECDL, was removed from the list of qualifications eligible for performance tables in 2018. We’ve written previously about its impact on Progress 8 scores.

Sure enough, those schools that entered all (or almost all) of their pupils in ECDL in 2017 have tended to see their Progress 8 score fall in 2018, although some have improved.

As the table below shows, on average, the P8 score of schools which entered over 90% of their pupils for the ECDL in 2017 fell from +0.20 to -0.04, a difference of a quarter of a reformed GCSE grade.

By contrast, schools which entered less than 5% of pupils in ECDL saw their P8 scores increase on average from +0.04 in 2017 to +0.14 in 2018.

The effect of capping

This year, for the first time, the Department for Education has taken steps to minimise the disproportionate effect some pupils with “extremely negative” Progress 8 scores can have on a school’s published score. These tend to be pupils whose Key Stage 4 attainment has been affected by reasons beyond a school’s control such as long-term illness.

In short, there is now a methodology in place to “cap” such scores. In other words, make extremely negative scores slightly less negative. The full methodology can be seen here [PDF].

The results are fairly underwhelming. Fewer than 5,000 pupils in more than 2,000 schools had their scores capped. Just nine schools saw their provisional published P8 measure change by more than 0.1. These were all small schools (fewer than 100 Year 11 pupils included in the measure) and all bar one remained below the floor standard of -0.5. Three were university technical colleges and three were studio schools.

Another 50 schools saw their score change by 0.05 or more.

So capping makes little difference. Schools with pupils whose Key Stage 4 attainment has been affected for reasons beyond their control may well feel doubly aggrieved given the DfE is apparently tightening rules on removing pupils from performance tables measures, according to Schools Week reporting.

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