What is Progress 8?

This article explains what Progress 8 is, what subjects can be chosen and how scores are calculated. For instructions on how to set up Progress 8 in Arbor, click here.

For further information on Progress 8, take a look at this guide supplied by the DfE.


What is Progress 8?

Progress 8 was brought in by the government for secondary schools to offer student's a broad and balanced curriculum with an emphasis on the importance of academic subjects. It is called Progress 8 as students choose 8 subjects from three buckets. 

Performance is now measured in the following ways:

  • Attainment 8: A student’s average achievement in each subject they sit. Adding all of the scores together (including double weighting) gives you the student’s Attainment 8 score.
  • English & Maths: The % of students achieving a grade 5 or higher in English (either Literature or Language) and Maths.
  • The EBacc: The % of students achieving good grades across a range of academic subjects. 


Progress 8 demonstrates how well students perform against their peers who are measurably equal to them and are expected to make the same level of progress. This means that schools in a catchment area that previously struggled to compete against other schools in the 5 A*- C category are now on a level playing field.

The Progress 8 measure is not how many GCSE's of a certain level is attained. Instead, it measures how much progress is made by each individual student, in comparison to the national average of their peers who entered secondary school with the same KS2 prior attainment levels.  

It is important to note that the Progress 8 score of a student cannot be perfectly predicted. The actual value of the Progress 8 grades is only finalised once KS4 exams have been taken and marked. 


What subjects contribute to the Progress 8 score?


Bucket 1:

  • Mathematics (this is double weighted)
  • English (providing a student has taken both English Lit AND English Language, the highest of the two scores will be double weighted). The lower grade English subject can still be included in Bucket 3 but only if it is one of the pupil's eight highest grades. 


Bucket 2:

Three Ebacc subjects:

  • Separate Sciences (3 spaces)
  • Core science
  • Core and additional science (2 spaces)
  • Computer science
  • History 
  • Geography 
  • Languages (1 space for each)


Bucket 3:

Bucket 3 is filled with a pupil's three highest point scores in any three other subjects, including English Literature (if not counted in Bucket 1) and Ebacc qualifications, other GCSEs or other approved academic or vocational qualifications. Example subjects in this bucket are: 

  • PE
  • Art
  • Dance/Drama
  • Technologies 
  • Music
  • BTEC Qualifications 


Calculating scores

Student Attainment 8 Score

This is the sum total of a student's scores across all exams sat. The score is calculated by adding up the total achieved in each subject and then dividing that total by 10. (The 8 qualifications with Maths and English counting as double). 

For example:

  • English Language: 7 (x2)
  • Mathematics: 6 (x2)
  • History: 5
  • Core Science: 5
  • Spanish: 6
  • PE: 5
  • Art: 6
  • Music: 2

7+7+6+6+5+5+6+5+6+2 = 55


Student Progress 8 Score

To find the student's Progress 8 score, we compare their Attainment 8 score to the national average Attainment 8 score for pupils in the same prior attainment group. 

A pupil’s Progress 8 score is the difference between their actual Attainment 8 result and the average result of those in their prior attainment group.

If a student achieved an Attainment 8 score of 55 and the average Attainment 8 score for their prior attainment group was 57, their Progress 8 Score would be -2. We divide -2 by 10 (as there are 8 subjects with English and Maths being double weighted) to give an individual pupil’s Progress 8 score, which is in this example is -0.2.

Please note that there is no method currently released by the DfE for calculating Attainment 8 scores for students in year 9 and below.


School Progress 8 Score

Progress 8 is calculated for individual students so that the DfE can calculate a School Progress 8 Score. To work out the school’s Progress 8 score, add up all of the Progress 8 scores and divide by the number of students.


What does Progress 8 mean for my school?

The average Progress 8 score across the country is 0. The government's baseline acceptable score for a school to achieve is -0.5. This would mean that students on average leave the school with half a grade less than what would be considered expected progress from where students began at the end of KS2. 

For example, the pupils in a school have an expected average grade across all of their subjects of a 4.5. The school achieves a School Progress 8 score of a 0.5. This means that on average each student achieved half a grade more than what was expected of them. Therefore this means the average grade achieved at the school was a 5. 


Therefore a positive Progress 8 score reflects that students have on average made more than expected progress whereas a negative Progress 8 score demonstrates that students have made less than expected progress. 

Schools that achieve a Progress 8 score above a 0 - i.e. +0.5 have demonstrated that on average schools have made more than expected progress and have achieved half a grade higher than was forecast for them based on their KS2 prior attainment.

On the other hand, if a school achieves less than -0.5, e.g. -1, on average students have made one grade less expected progress in comparison to their peers of the same ability nationally. 


Do students have to take at least 8 subjects?

It is not compulsory for all students to take 8 subjects; this is usually the case with less able students who need additional intervention on other subjects.

However, where students take less than 8 subjects they will be awarded a 0 on their unfilled slots. This can be beneficial as these students are therefore more likely to achieve a higher grade in the few subjects they sit and therefore attain a higher average grade rather than risking a lower average grade by taking more subjects.

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