Stats watchdog to launch review into Ofqual’s results algorithm

The government’s statistics watchdog is to launch a review into how Ofqual’s controversial results algorithm was developed.

The review will look at statistical models used for exam grading to “highlight learning from the challenges faced through these unprecedented circumstances”.

It will not look at the implications of the model on individual results, or take a view on the way to award grades in the absence of exams.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), which is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority watchdog, will lead the review.

Ed Humpherson, director general for regulation at the OSR, said: “Our review will consider the extent to which the organisations developing the models complied with the principles set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics.”

The findings are due to be published in September.

Humpherson, in a letter published today, added: “There are many areas of the approach to awarding exam grades this year that may warrant review and it is likely that other organisations will commission or carry out reviews.

“We are conscious that too many reviews could be unhelpful and will seek to minimise overlap between our review and others. We will try to minimise the burden of our review on organisations involved in awarding exam grades and will contribute our findings to other relevant reviews where appropriate.”

The intervention followed a plea from the Royal Statistical Society for action.

Sharon Witherspoon, RSS’s vice-president for education and statistical literacy, said: “The lack of transparency around the process has not only caused significant distress for thousands of students, it has threatened to undermine public trust in statistics and their use.

“It is therefore right that the Office for Statistics Regulation looks into these issues to ensure this does not happen again.”

The school and college leaders’ union had earlier today called for an independent inquiry into the fiasco, where 40 per cent of A-level grades were marked down. The government made a major U-turn yesterday – allowing pupils to be awarded their centre assessed grades.

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