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Missing the mark at GCSE English: the costly consequences of just failing to get a grade C
Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally and Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela April 2018
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Tags: education; gcse; schools

School students who narrowly fail to achieve a grade C in their GCSE English exam pay a high price, according to new research by Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally and Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela. Getting above or failing to reach thresholds in high-stakes public examinations is an important feature of success or failure in many people's lives. One well-known example is the need to obtain a grade C in English and maths in the age 16 school-leaving exams in England (or Grade 4 in the new system).

This is in part because achievement of good literacy and numeracy skills is recognised as an important output of the education system. It is also because achieving a ‘good pass’ (grade C or better) in these exams has long been recognised as a key requirement for employment. In fact, this level of achievement is deemed so important that since 2015, it has become mandatory for students to repeat the exams if they fail to get a C grade in English or maths and wish to continue in some form of publicly funded education thereafter.