ALIS and Further Mathematics Statement

Posted: 09/11/2011

The Advanced Level Information System (ALIS) provides performance indicators for Post-16 students across all sectors of education, both in the UK and Internationally.

The FMSP has been concerned that, for some students with relatively low GCSE scores, the ALIS system sometimes produces apparent anomalies such as projecting a higher grade for Further Mathematics than for Mathematics. Evidence from some teachers suggests that this has led to some students either being deterred from studying Further Mathematics, or being denied the opportunity to study it even when it would have been in their interest to do so.

Such anomalies are partly a consequence of the Further Mathematics projected ALIS grade being based on the cohort of student who take Further Mathematics and the Mathematics projected ALIS grade being based on the larger cohort of all students who take Mathematics.

We have raised this with the ALIS team at the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) and they have acknowledged these concerns and provided an explanation in this statement.

It includes the following points:

  • Students who take both Mathematics and Further Mathematics achieve substantially higher grades in their maths than comparable students who take maths alone.

  • For most students, if we know that they are taking Further Mathematics as well as Mathematics this adds between half a grade and one A level grade to our expectation for maths. For those at the lower end of prior performance, the difference is even bigger.

The experience of the FMSP in providing tuition to students in Further Mathematics, together with anecdotal evidence provided by teachers to the FMSP about the benefits of studying Further Mathematics show that:

  • Taking Further Maths can have a significant positive impact on A level Maths performance

  • A weaker GCSE average alone is not a reason to deter a student from taking Further Maths as many such students perform very well on it

We hope that maths teachers find the statement useful as a general endorsement of some of the benefits of taking Further Mathematics and particularly to support cases where students have relatively low GCSE scores, resulting in anomalies with ALIS projected grades.

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