Exams regulator Ofqual has released a few more details about its grading plans this summer, ahead of the publication of its consultation (due “shortly”).
Here’s our speed read of what you need to know.
1. 12-day window to submit teacher grades
It’s been confirmed the window for all schools and colleges to submit their teacher-assessed grades and student ranking will be between June 1 (the same day schools and colleges are supposed to open to more pupils) and June 12.
This follows confirmation of a three-week window to submit grades for vocational and technical qualifications.
2. Grades will be standardised by subject, not by college
Ofqual will run its standardisation at subject, not school and college, level. This means standardisation of maths GCSE, for instance, won’t affect that of A-level maths. But, it does mean schools and colleges will probably see different levels of adjustment in different subjects.
A school or college’s historical results and prior attainment of current students will be used to judge whether centre-assessed grades are “more generous or severe” than predicted.
For AS/A-levels, this will include historical data from 2017, 2018 and 2019. For GCSEs, data from just 2018 and 2019 will be considered.
Schools and colleges are expected to submit grades for private candidates (where they feel they have enough evidence to do so). But the model will “make sure” private candidates don’t affect the grades of other students.
3. Likely all schools and colleges will ‘see some adjustments’
Ofqual said because of the speed of the arrangements, it wasn’t possible to roll out national training to award grades. They warned this means it’s “likely that all centres will see some adjustment to their centre assessment grades, however carefully they have made their judgements”.
4. Review data over up to five years to meet equality laws
The regulator has also published further guidance today for how schools and colleges can ensure objectivity in their grade awarding.
This states to avoid unconscious bias, schools and colleges should “reflect on and question whether they may have any preconceptions about each student’s performance”.
That includes “halo effects” (viewing a particular aspect about a pupil that overly accentuates their actual knowledge), recency effects (giving undue weight to the most recent interaction), or confirmation basis (only noticing evidence about a student that fits with pre-existing views about them).
To “understand” these, schools and colleges could look back at previous years’ data to check for indications of “systematic under- or over-prediction for different groups of students”.
Looking back over the past two to five years of data is suggested. An example of this was discovering that in previous years the school or college routinely under-estimated the predicted A-level maths grades to UCAS compared to achieved grades.
Such reviews would help “assure” schools and colleges they have fulfilled duties to promote equality and avoid discrimination as set out under the Equality Act 2010.