Ben HaywardMay 27th
2020

Following the cancellation of GCSE, AS and A-level exams as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, both students and their parents have been left wondering quite how grades will be awarded.

The exams regulator, Ofqual, has said teachers in England should grade pupils based on 'fair, objective and carefully considered’ judgements of the results they think each student would’ve achieved if exams had gone ahead. 

And while the initial announcement possibly posed more questions than it answered - with some pupils saying they feared poor relationships with certain teachers could affect their grades - Ofqual has now issued more detailed guidance as well as confirming that all assessment grades will go through an external standardisation process, reports Sky.

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So, here’s what the regulator is saying… 

How will it work?

When making their judgements, teachers have been asked to consider homework assignments, mock exams and other recorded pieces of students’ performance.

They’ve also been asked to rank students within each grade to help with the standardisation process, and these assessments will be sent to the exam boards from June 1st.

Will students be set new work to help inform their grade?

Ofqual says there is ‘no requirement' to set more mock exams or homework tasks to be used to help determine grades, and has stressed that no student should be disadvantaged if they can’t complete certain tasks - for example if they do not have access to a computer.

Teachers have been asked to give consideration to any work done after school closures which is notably better or worse than the pupil's normal performance, however students do not need to complete any unfinished non-exam assessment work for the summer 2020 grades.

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Will schools and colleges be asked to submit the evidence they have based grades on?

No, but they should keep records in case of queries/challenges/appeals.

Should parents and students be concerned about whether pupils will be ranked accurately?

Ofqual says: “Teachers are highly experienced at making assessment decisions and evidence shows they can rank order their students with a high degree of accuracy.”

Schools and colleagues should be prepared to discuss between themselves the rank order and agree that the same standard is being applied to all pupils.

Exam boards will then standardise the judgements once grades have been submitted. This will be done using a computer model drawing on:

  • The previous results from that school or college

  • The previous grades of that year's students within the school or college

  • The expected national grade for the subject, considering the grades of that year across the country

If some grading seems to be more harsh or generous, exam boards will adjust the grades of some or all of those students to account for that, taking into account whether the institution has made a recent improvement/downturn in performance.

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What if a pupil changed school or colleague during their studies?

The pupil’s current head is allowed to consult with the previous education centre and take that evidence into account.

Will students be allowed to know what their school or college has graded them?

No. Ofqual say this is to "protect the integrity of the teachers’ judgements, and to avoid teachers, heads of department or heads of centre feeling under pressure to submit a grade that is not supported by the evidence.”

When will results be published?

Results will be announced on August 13th for A-levels and August 20th for GCSE.

Can students appeal grades?

Yes. Appeals should be made to exam boards by schools and colleges, on behalf of the pupil.

Pupils are expected to be able to re-take their exams in the autumn term or in summer 2021.

You can read the Ofqual guidance in its entirety here.

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