I have wanted to write this for a while. Target grades do work for some students. Eg a student who was going to get a C (in old money), but everyone kept banging on about a B so that nudged the student on a bit. Similarly for some B to A students. However in my experience (for which I have no evidence, just opinion), this probably ‘works’ for less than 50% of students: Some students are unaware of the target and go on to get that grade anyway (FFT does get it right sometimes!); some students stop trying when they reach their target; and some give up if they feel it is unachievable. John Tomsett explains these last two far better than I could here:
Other points I would like to make:
The present system can’t work because the grade is serving at least two different purposes – motivating the student but also measuring the teacher!
If we must have a grade to make teachers accountable, let’s have a softer target eg a range of grades such as “5 to 7” (in new money) for a yr 10 student, and then depending on how things are going for that student, in yr 11 it could be 5 to 6 or 6 to 7. This soft target would be between the teacher and school. It serves no purpose to tell students or parents. We would retain enough accountability on the teacher but without all the silliness before and after the exam talking about one specific grade.
Finally, abandoning the present system may allow extra time to actually talk about the subject itself.