Ofqual seeks views on plans for teachers to estimate GCSE and A-level grades

The sector has just days to respond to an Ofqual consultation on its plans for teacher calculated GCSE and A-level grades.

Views on the exams regulator’s “exceptional arrangements”, put forward following the cancellation of this summer’s exam series, need to be submitted by 29 April.

The consultation covers several areas including how the regulator should standardise grades, how the appeals system should work, sanctions for malpractice and a potential exam series in the autumn.

Chief regulator Sally Collier said: “All those students, parents, teachers and others affected by these unprecedented circumstances can be assured that we will continue to work urgently, with stakeholders and representative bodies across the sector and officials in the Department for Education, to put in place the best possible arrangements on their behalf.”

The consultation can be viewed here.

 

Proposals

As previously announced, schools and colleges will submit judgements on the grade each student would “most likely” have received had the exams taken place, and the rank order of each student.

Ofqual states this will be “holistic judgments” informed by evidence including homework, mock exams and non-exam assessments.

The regulator is now proposing that exam boards should only accept assessment grades and rank orders from a school or college if their principal, headteacher, chief executive or “nominated deputy” has made a “declaration as to their accuracy and integrity”.

The regulator is also proposing that pupils entered for exams in year 10 and below should now get calculated grades this summer, after previously saying they would only be awarded to year 11 students and above.

“While we believe the arguments to be finely balanced, we are proposing that, in the interests of the students who had expected to take exams, this should be permitted,” Ofqual said.

Today’s consultation also proposes that “statistical standardisation” to fully determine this summer’s exam grades should draw on three sources of evidence to prevent “bias”: historical outcomes for each school and college; the prior attainment (Key Stage 2 or GCSE) of this year’s students and those in previous years within each centre; the expected national grade distribution for the subject “given the prior attainment of the national entry”.

As result of this “standardisation model”, the final results students receive will “not necessarily be the same” as the school and college assessment grades.

Therefore, the regulator believes that assessment grades, rank order information, and the judgements on which these are founded, should be “confidential until after results have been issued”.

Ofqual said it “recognises” the possibility that some schools and colleges, students and others may “try to exploit the exceptional arrangements we propose to put in place this summer, including by seeking inappropriately to influence centre assessment grades or rank order information”, so it “expects” exam boards to allow this to be “investigated as potential malpractice, leading to the potential imposition of sanctions”.

As the normal reviews and appeal processes also cannot operate this summer, the regulator proposes that appeals should only be allowed “on the grounds that the centre made a data error when submitting its information; or similarly, that the exam board made a mistake when calculating, assigning or communicating a grade”.

Ofqual has also put forward that exam boards should only consider appeals submitted by schools or colleges on behalf of students, but not those submitted by individual students.

The regulator is also proposing to permit additional exams available in the autumn series for students that believe the results issued in the summer “do not reflect their likely performance had they taken an exam”.

However, entries to the autumn series “should be limited to” those who were entered for the summer series (by the 20 February 2020), or those who the exam board believes have made a “compelling case” about their intention to have entered for the summer series, as well as to students “who would normally be permitted to take GCSEs in English language and maths in November”.

A further consultation just on the autumn exam series will be launched at a later date.