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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
More students getting top grades
girls celebrating GCSE results
Girls outperformed boys again
Almost one in two students got five GCSE passes at the better grades this year, analysis of the figures shows.

And the number of teenagers leaving school with no qualifications at all dropped to 33,000, down from 45,000 in 1997.

The Higher Education Minister, Tessa Blackstone, said the government was on its way to meeting its target of 50% of GCSE candidates getting five A* to C grades - or the GNVQ equivalent - by 2002.

This year, 49% did so, up from 47.9% in 1999.

The figures come from a breakdown of the results which students received in August.

Girls do better

"Girls have outperformed boys again, although boys still continue to perform successfully in their chosen subjects," Baroness Blackstone said.

"The government is currently looking at these issues and taking a number of steps to address boys' under-performance across the education sector from primary school onwards."

The proportion of students leaving school with no qualifications has decreased from 7.7% in 1997 to 6.0% last year, and 5.6% this year.

The target is 5% by 2002.

At A-level, the average point score per candidate entered for two or more exams has also risen, from 17.3 in 1997 to 17.8 in 1998, 18.2 in 1999 and 18.3 this year.

Girls overtook boys at A-level for the first time this year, completing a sweep of relatively higher performance in tests throughout the school years.

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