Why GO 4 Schools does not calculate Progress 8 per subject.

Why GO 4 Schools does not calculate Progress 8 per subject.

From 2016, the Government has reformed the way that school performance is measured to place more focus on the progress that pupils make.

Secondary school/GCSE performance

For secondary schools the Government has introduced a new measure called Progress 8. In the past the main measure of school performance was the percentage of pupils who got 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE (including English and maths) – which may have encouraged too much focus on pupils just on the borderline of getting a C grade, at the expense of other pupils.

Progress 8 will measure how well schools have helped pupils of all abilities to perform across 8 qualifications. The minimum grades each pupil requires to achieve a positive Progress 8 score; this is also known as their ‘estimated grade, is based on Attainment 8 numeric points allocated to subjects within 4 slots.  The estimated grades will not be known in advance as this is based on the cohort’s KS2 prior attainment and is not available until the ‘actual’ exam grade outcomes are calculated. This is because each pupil’s results are compared to other pupils with the same prior attainment within the same cohort. The Progress 8 score for each pupil will always be determined by dividing the points total by 10 (the eight qualifications with English and mathematics both double-weighted), regardless of how many qualifications the pupil sits.


GCSE Numeric points are awarded in line with the new grading system i.e. Grade 7 has 7 numeric points. The numeric points awarded to legacy qualifications in 2016 as published by the DfE : https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/progress-8-school-performance-measure


For example, the school’s Progress 8 score was +0.77 it would mean that on average pupils at that school achieved over three quarters of a grade better per subject than other pupils with the same prior attainment.

School scores should be interpreted alongside their associated confidence intervals. If the lower bound of the school’s confidence interval is greater than zero, it can be interpreted as meaning that the school has achieved greater than average progress compared to pupils nationally, and vice versa if the upper bound is negative.

Is using Progress 8 to track data for the current Y11 cohort a good idea?

“Care should be taken when using a previous year’s attainment estimates as a guide to potential future Progress 8 results. This is because changes to national subject entry patterns and performance will cause these estimates to change in future years. Many schools will change their curriculum offer in response to the Progress 8 measure, so any modelling based on current national results could be misleading.”  DfE Progress 8 school performance measures Oct 16.

The DfE has been clear in its guidance that although a Progress 8 score can be calculated using the Attainment 8 estimates for each of the slots – English, Maths, EBACC and Other.  There is no Progress 8 value per subject as the allocation of subjects to each slot cannot be determined with certainty.

For example – if a student was to achieve Grade 7 in ALL qualifications then the following could apply:

English Language and English Literature – included in both the English and the Other Slot

Triple Science, MFL, History, Computer Science – could all be included in the EBACC slots or the Other Slot.

Music, Art, PE, Dance, DT – all only exist in the Other slot but may not count if EBACC subjects and English Language or English Literature are already filling these slots.

In terms of the DfE performance tables, there is no applied logic to the priority of subjects,except that the best grades apply to the subjects applicable for each slot.  Therefore GO4S has no way of ensuring our selections of subjects that achieved the same grade outcome would match those counting  in the  DfE Progress 8 calculation.

Variations in trying to calculate P8 subject data
When reviewing requests for Progress 8 calculations per subject we reviewed a range of scenarios and methodology.
For the EBACC and Other slot divide the A8 estimate by 3 (as 3 subjects should fill each slot). Inaccuracy in the data is produced due to differences in the average number of slots filled per bucket i.e. the national average for EBACC slots filled in 2016 is 2.75.

So use the national average; but for each school the average slots filled would differ based on their curriculum model and for the majority of schools the EBACC slots filled varies across range of Prior attainment scores i.e. Low Prior attainment students filling less slots than the higher prior attainment students.  As we know this is the pattern of slots filled in the national estimate data set so use this to calculate the slots filled, but every school will vary and each cohort will differ as nationally school curriculum’s develop and change, thus altering the average slots filled in the estimate data.

So in summary, there is no official calculation to produce a Progress 8 score per subject, the range of data available to use to calculate a Progress 8 score per subject and therefore an accurate data set for schools is too varied and will not match specific schools contexts.  This is why we have kept with the official guidance and produce a Progress 8 score per element.