Ofqual consulting on GCSE / AS / A level grading and assessment

Last month Gavin Williamson MP, the Secretary of State for Education, announced that along with the closure of schools and colleges, the summer 2020 examination series would be cancelled, not postponed: https://www.education-law-blog.com/2020/03/covid-19-no-school-public-exams-this-year.html.  Mr Williamson also committed the government to making arrangements to ensure that the current cohort of GCSE, AS and A level students would be issued with a set of results that enabled them to progress to further study or employment.

Last week Ofqual launched its consultation on the arrangements it is to impose on exam boards to achieve the government’s aim. The arrangements primarily concern GCSE, AS and A level but will also apply to AEA and EPQ.  As has been fairly widely covered in the media, the grades candidates will receive will be derived from teachers at schools and colleges who must provide:

  • the grade that each candidate would most likely have achieved had the exams taken place; and
  • the rank order of each student at each grade in each subject. 

Candidates who are unhappy with the grade the exam board gives based on this information will have the opportunity to sit examinations in autumn 2020.

The consultation puts some flesh on the bones of the extraordinary arrangements being put in place for this summer.

It provides an opportunity for everyone to be involved in influencing those arrangements.  There are various, quite technical, regulatory elements to the consultation, but it also covers a range of matters, including:

  • Equality law issues to be considered by schools and colleges when determining grade and rank order.
  • The inclusion of Year 10 students in this summer’s extraordinary arrangements.  
  • The disclosure (or not) by schools and colleges of the grade and rank order of students to the students or their parents.
  • Whether “private candidates” (people who are not students at the school of college through which they entered the qualification) can be included in the arrangements.
  • The aims of the statistical methodology that exam boards will apply to standardise the grade and rank order they receive from schools leading to the final grade.
  • The restrictions to be placed on appeals – specifically that candidates cannot appeal the grade or rank order given by the school of college and that certain aspects of the process cannot be appealed.
  • Limitations to be placed on who can sit examinations in autumn 2020.  

The consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/exceptional-arrangements-for-exam-grading-and-assessment-in-2020.  It closes on Wednesday 29 April 2020.

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