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Title: Early and multiple entry to GCSE mathematics and the implications for examination standards
Author: Taylor, Rachel Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 5407
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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GCSEs are high stakes assessments in England generally taken by students aged 16. The results are put to several uses: they allow students access to further opportunities and are used to judge the performance of schools. While students are expected to take GCSEs once aged 16, this thesis explores an alternative approach - early and multiple examination entry (EMEE). This approach rose in prominence between 2007 and 2013 for GCSE English and mathematics, before changes to accountability measures in September 2013 meant that single entry once again became the norm. A multiphase mixed methods design was used focusing on EMEE in GCSE mathematics. The first (quantitative) phase showed that early entry increased from 2007 to 2011, generally due to weaker students and students from lower performing schools increasingly entering early. The second (qualitative) phase suggested that the rise in EMEE was due to the pressure of performance measures driving behaviour in schools, encouraging EMEE and associated teaching practices. The third (quantitative) phase suggested that EMEE was likely to have implications for examination outcomes, potentially leading to increased outcomes (i.e. higher grades) at the cohort level. The findings are considered in terms of the implications for examination standards, drawing on the theoretical literature relating to how examination standards are defined. While the comparable outcomes approach in England implies a causal definition of standards, the rise and subsequent decline of EMEE challenges this definition, raising questions about how standards can be maintained in the presence of EMEE. Although the prevalence of EMEE has now declined in England, many of the issues identified here are likely to transcend EMEE and have wider implications. Thus, this thesis contributes to the literature relating to the effects of accountability measures on schools' behaviour and how examination standards are defined, in addition to adding to the existing, albeit limited literature, focusing on EMEE.
Supervisor: Strand, Steve ; Baird, Jo-Anne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available