Pearson have this week announced the results for this summers’ Edexcel BTEC First and National entries and it has highlighted some interesting trends across the STEM subjects.
More Students Studying STEM BTEC Subjects
The first trend of interest, and a positive one, is that the number of students choosing to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects is continuing to increase. This shows the government and industry drive towards these subjects is having a real impact on students choices which bodes well for the future.
At both level 2 and level 3 there has shown to be a 5% increase in students studying an ICT BTEC, with ICT maintaining it’s place as one of the five most popular subjects (along with Applied Science, Sports Science, Business and Health & Social Care).
The overall entries are stable with the previous year, though this obviously follows from a major drop on BTEC courses at level 2 in 2013 following the introduction of the examined elements.
Also of particular interest to ICT is that while male students are still more common on BTEC courses in this subject area (72,811 males compared to 26,006 females across Level 2 & 3) the female students had greater high achievement with 45% of females compared to 33% of male students achieving a Distinction* grade.
Reduced High Achievement in Edexcel BTEC Level 2
There is one piece of data that I am sure is a concern to teachers of BTEC First qualifications and that is the reduction of high achievement within the new NQF qualification structure.
In 2015, 40% of students studying the old Edexcel BTEC Level 2 ICT specification achieved a Merit grade or better. This compares to just 20% of students studying the new NQF BTEC Level 2 ICT specification.
Undoubtedly part of this is teachers getting used to delivering on a the new specification, it was such a change from the previous one that it required completely new assignments and classroom resources which would have required a huge amount of extra work on teaching staff.
However one does also have to look at the impact of bringing in the external assessments into the qualification and how this has impacted on final results of students studying BTEC Level 2 courses.
While BTEC don’t release information on individual unit performance a quick straw poll of teachers delivering on the NQF BTEC Level 2 Information and Creative Technology has shown that in Unit 1 The Online World and Unit 2 Technology Systems students are very rarely achieving distinction grades.
In fact the vast majority of students are achieving U, L1 Pass and Pass grades in these units.
This means that those students who achieve U and L1 Pass grades then need to achieve a Merit to Distinction grade in Unit 3 in order to achieve at least an overall Pass at Level 2.
You can see some improvements from the 2013/14 results to the 2014/15 results which shows teachers are getting more used to the specification (an increase from 14% to 20% of students achieving a Merit or better). However there is still a long way to go to start matching up with results of old.
While many have welcomed the extra academic rigour you have to be concerned that around 15% of students who complete the course are achieving beneath a level 2 pass.
This would compare to just 0.1% of students on the old specification (note: obviously the old specification did not include a L1 Pass grade, so this is U grades only).
Improving NQF ICT BTEC Level 2 Results
Luckily there are a number of resources being released to support the delivery of Unit 1 The Online World and Unit 2 Technology Systems, not least KnowItAll Ninja which offers gamified revision to students studying the BTEC Information and Creative Technology.
If you aren’t currently using KnowItAll Ninja for your BTEC ICT Level 2 revision then you should have a look right now.