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A-level French results over the years

                    A*    A    B    C    D    E    N    U   A - E    
French     
          2012      6.8 32.6 29.4 18.5  8.8  3.1       0.8  99.2   12511   
          2011      7.7 32.4 29.3 18.0  8.7  3.0       0.9  99.1   13196
          2010      7.7 31.4 28.5 18.2  9.6  3.7       0.9  99.1   13850
          2009          38.6 27.6 18.3 10.5  4.1       0.9  99.1   14333
          2008          37.3 27.7 18.9 10.6  4.3       1.2  98.8   14885
          2007          36.3 28.0 18.2 11.6  4.6       1.3  98.7   14477
          2006          34.7 27.4 19.5 11.8  5.3       1.3  98.7   14650
          2005          32.9 27.5 20.0 12.4  5.6       1.6  98.4   14484
          2004          33.4 26.8 19.8 12.6  5.8       1.6  98.4   15149
          2003          31.4 26.4 20.0 13.3  6.6       2.3  97.7   15531
          2002          29.3 25.2 20.9 13.8  7.7       3.1  96.9   15614
          2001          24.7 20.5 19.4 16.0 11.2  5.5  2.7  91.8   17939
          2000          23.5 21.5 20.1 16.3 10.5  5.6  2.5  91.9   18221
          1999          23.2 20.4 20.1 16.4 11.3  5.7  2.9  91.4   21072
          1998          21.6 20.7 19.6 17.3 11.6  6.2  3.0  90.8   23633
          1997          20.2 19.9 19.6 16.7 12.1  6.9  4.6  88.5   25916
          1996          20.9 18.0 20.3 17.3 12.5  6.9  4.1  89.0   27490
          1995          20.1 18.3 19.3 17.7 13.4  7.1  4.1  88.8   27563
          1994          19.9 17.7 19.0 17.4 13.4  7.8  4.7  87.5   28942
          1993          18.6 17.3 19.5 18.5 13.6  7.6  4.9  87.5   29886
 
That table is from Brian Stubbs's Student Performance Analysis pages.
http://www.bstubbs.co.uk/new.htm

Most language teachers are aware of how hard it is for students to achieve an A* at A-level compared to other subjects. Ofqual are aware of the issue and one wonders why it has not been dealt with already, but what the data also show is that, over the course of two decades, grade inflation has not hit French A-level nearly as much as some other subjects.

Compare, for example, results for English, a subject which attracts a wider range of abilities than French:


                    A*    A    B    C    D    E    N    U   A - E    
English  
          2012      6.8 14.4 26.9 29.9 17.2  4.2       0.6  99.4   89638
          2011      7.1 15.2 27.1 29.2 16.6  4.2       0.6  99.4   89980
          2010      7.4 15.7 26.6 27.9 17.0  4.6       0.8  99.2   89320
          2009          23.0 27.1 28.4 16.4  4.4       0.7  99.3   91815
          2008          22.8 26.7 27.7 16.8  5.1       0.9  99.1   89111
          2007          23.2 26.0 27.3 17.2  5.3       1.0  99.0   85275
          2006          21.9 25.3 27.4 18.2  6.0       1.2  98.8   86640
          2005          20.7 24.5 27.4 19.1  6.9       1.4  98.6   85858     
          2004          20.6 23.7 27.1 19.6  7.4       1.6  98.4   81649
          2003          20.0 24.5 27.3 19.5  7.1       1.6  98.4   78476
          2002          18.9 24.3 27.2 19.9  7.8       1.9  98.1   72196
          2001          16.5 19.8 24.5 20.9 12.1  4.5  1.7  93.8   76808
          2000          15.6 19.5 24.0 21.1 12.8  4.9  2.1  93.0   86428              
          1999          15.2 19.2 23.8 21.1 13.4  5.2  2.1  92.7   90340
          1998          14.9 19.1 22.9 21.3 13.7  5.6  2.5  91.9   94099
          1997          14.3 18.9 22.7 21.6 14.5  5.6  2.4  92.0   93546
          1996          14.5 19.4 21.8 21.1 14.3  6.2  2.7  91.1   86627
          1995          14.1 19.0 21.8 20.4 14.7  6.5  3.5  90.0   86467
          1994          13.5 19.0 21.6 20.8 14.6  6.8  3.6  89.5   88214
          1993          12.9 18.1 20.3 20.9 15.3  7.5  4.9  87.5   89238

In this case it is clear that, given the fact that the number of entries has remained static. The decline in the number of young people taking A-level languages is well documented, so the examination boards have had to keep a careful eye on grade allocations as the average ability level of candidates has risen. In French they have been much more successful, it would appear, in holding the standard than in English. (You would see a similar pattern in other subjects too.)

My feeling, having taught A-level French for over 30 years is that you still need to be a very good candidate to get an A grade. What may have changed a little is the ease with which you can now get grades C to E. My strong hunch is that candidates who may have scraped an E two decades ago are now more likely to achieve a D or a C.

Modern languages remain among the hardest of A-levels in terms of grading. Absolute difficulty level is harder to assess and much depends on a student's natural aptitude.



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