Consultation on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021

Consultation on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021

Ofqual has announced consultation on the exams in 2021 on how they will replace exams in 2021. Which can be found here.

The Exam House has put comments below.

- In brief: Teachers will determine the grade. With ‘Quality Reassurance’ fro the exam boards. While the exam boards will be remain accountable for the results.

  • We think:

This, we believe, is a complete dereliction of duty of the regulated exam boards. These regulated exam boards take the queens shilling.

While unregulated but no less rigorous exam boards like Cambridge International carry on and put GCSE and A level exams on. Why is it that if you are regulated you simply take the easiest route.

 The School Assessments to be complete ‘late May/early June’

Ofqual is suggesting teachers making final assessments of their exam candidates’ performance during late May and early June.

Ofqual said any later would delay releasing grades.

We think;

Universities and UCAS should simply relax their dates for start of their terms. While accepting late entrance to universities.

Ofqual is also looking for views on whether work done earlier in the year should be taken into account.

Which is a form of the toxic continual assessment!

Ofqual wants to ditch ‘Grades on past performance’. Good.

Rather Ofqual wants the exam grade to be based on teachers’ assessments of the “evidence of the standard at which their students are performing; it should indicate their demonstrated knowledge, understanding and skills”.

If exams are put on there would not be this problem!!

  • Last year, teachers were asked to come up with a grade they thought a student would have achieved had they had set their exams. It ended in disaster. While there is no reason why another disaster will not occur if teachers are in charge of grading.

“Teachers should assess students on the areas of content they have covered and can demonstrate their ability, while ensuring sufficient breadth of content coverage so as not to limit progression,” the consultation added.

This is MAD. 

Exam boards providing papers for teachers to mark

  • Ofqual is proposing that exam boards could provide papers which would be marked by teachers to help inform their assessments This is definitely part of the answer. If exams can be sat so too can exam markers can be organised.

  • The exam boards could then sample teachers’ marking. Like they do with examiners. This is definitely progress.

for quality assurance and “seek to ensure this was comparable across different types of school and college”.

  • Ofqual suggests that the boards may use a combination of questions from past papers and new questions to “develop their papers”. This is what they are doing anyway!

These regulated exam boards have to do this anyway. Remarkable that they need a consultation.

Why, we cannot think why they need to be a consultation on the work they would have been doing anyway.

  • Teachers should have some choice of the topics to “take account of content that has not been fully taught due to the disruption. In that scenario, multiple papers might be chosen to ensure sufficient coverage of what is assessed.”

Teachers can choose the topics just like before. If you have to slim down a paper then so be it.

This does not need a consultation to come up with this.

  • Exam Boards should give guidance on how teachers account for other evidence and “factors that might have affected their performance in the papers”.

Exam boards already do this. While the whole co hort would have had to experience lock down and remote learning. So surely if remote computer based learning is the norm this just strengthen’s the case for computer based exams.


coursework to be included

The regulator is proposing teachers  take into account the standard of a student’s non-exam assessment in their final grade. This is bonkers!

It rewards the teacher’s pet. Who have parents who can help. While punishes those who simply are good at sitting down at an exam. Which is the simplest and fairest way of testing.

Ofqual says students should not be penalised if they have been unable to complete their non-exam assessment for “reasons beyond their control”.

Where this has happened, teachers should take it into account when deciding on the weight they give to the paper and non-exam assessment.

Alternatively everyone could sit the exams as normal and this wouldnt be needed.

“The exam boards could provide guidance on this, including on any changes to the conditions under which the assessments should be taken. The weighting used by the teacher would need to be recorded, to support the exam boards’ quality assurance and any appeal by the student”

But while teachers should mark non-exam assessments, exam boards would not be required to moderate the marking.

 Teachers can use their own papers

Regardless of whether a teacher decides to use the exam board papers for assessment, teachers should use other ways to assess students – which boards could provide guidance on.

If teachers devise their own assessment materials, they should be “comparable in demand” to the exam board papers and have mark schemes.

Ofqual says other evidence could include formal tests, mocks and “substantial candidate work”.

Greater weight should also be given to evidence of students’ performance that is ‘closer to the time of the final assessment’.

‘Exams can be completed at home’

Ofqual said it expects students’ performance will be assessed within their school or college. If this is not possible due to the pandemic, papers could be completed “in an alternative venue, including a student’s home”.

This is ridiculous. Exams are by their very natural social distance at their heart.

But if any of the evidence used to determine a final assessment was not completed under a teacher’s supervision (either directly or remotely), the student would be required to make an appropriate declaration they did not receive unauthorised assistance. 

‘Menu’ of exams so pupils don’t know which one they are sitting so exams can be sat at different times

Exam papers should also be set within in a “set period of time”.

Students who take papers later might be at an advantage, particularly if the content is leaked.

Ofqual says leaks could be reduced by exam boards creating a “menu of papers” for teachers to choose from.

Surely the Exam boards should just set the exams and schools deliver them in a safe, secure, bio security manner.

Exam papers could deliberately published not long before the assessment window opened, although students “would not know which one(s) they would be required to complete”.

All of this would be avoided with both putting on exams, plus developing computer based exams for the future.

 Exams boards to provide support on grading - Surely they should be doing this anyway.

It is proposed that exam boards should provide support materials and training to help teachers assess their students, including exemplars, information on other performance evidence that could be taken into account and best practice on avoiding bias and discrimination

The guidance would also likely cover how to consider the impact of events outside a student’s control on their performance, such as illness or family bereavement. Exam boards do this anyway. Why do they have to make it on a consultation.


School leaders to sign off on grades

internal standardisation arrangements and a process for heads of centres and school leaders to agree to sign off.

  • Giving responsibility to the schools learning is kind of the point. While also giving them the responsibility for grading is like giving a drunk the keys to the wine cellar.

A key part of this would be a declaration by a school leader confirming exam boards’ requirements have been met. Evidence used to inform grades would need to be retained by schools to support external quality assurance by exam boards and in case of appeals.

 Exam boards to sample evidence. Like they do with examiners with this consultation.

Exam boards would then quality the approach taken by each school.

Working together to ensure their approaches are consistent and don’t impost “unnecessary burden” on schools.

  • None of this would be needed if exams are to go ahead.

It is also proposed that exam boards should sample evidence on which grades were based at subject-level.

  • Where exam boards find that schools had not used appropriate quality assurance arrangements or that their requirements had not been followed, they should not issue grades until they are satisfied there is evidence to support them.

They would then require school leaders to investigate and make “any necessary changes” to the grade before finally submitting to the board. This means grades would only change as a result of “human intervention”.


Grades only changed if they’re ‘not legitimate’

Ofqual is proposing that teachers should not tell students their grades.

  • Schools would then review the marking of papers provided by exam boards. Plus the marking of any non-exam assessments and other evidence used to arrive at the pupil’s grade.

Appeals should be considered “by a competent person appointed by the school” who was not involved in the original assessment.

Why is the school anywhere near the appeal’s process? for example another teacher at the school or a teacher from another setting. Still makes it pretty toxic.

If an error is found, the outcome of the teacher assessment could then be adjusted up or down, but should only be changed if the person undertaking the appeal found that the outcome was “not legitimate – that the outcome could not have been arrived at by a person who was reasonably exercising their academic judgement”. All mad.

Ofqual is also proposing that students should also be able to appeal further to exam boards, but only once they had received the outcome of an appeal to their school.

These appeals would not be on the merits of the teacher assessment or the school’s appeal decision, but rather on the grounds that a school “had not acted in line with the exam board’s procedural requirements” either when assessing the student or considering an appeal.

If an exam board upheld an appeal, the school would be required to reconsider the grade it recommended for the student.

Exam boards “would decide whether to charge a separate fee for appeals made to them”.


12. Private candidates could be allowed to sit normal exams

One of the (many) issues with last year’s system to replace exams was that it left some private candidates unable to be awarded a grade.

It’s clear Ofqual still doesn’t have one firm solution for this, so instead they’ve offered up four potential approaches.

1) Private candidates should complete the papers set by exam boards for use in schools and colleges – with a grade issued in line with a candidate’s performance.

Private candidate work will be sent to a school.

It has also been suggested exam boards run normal exams for private candidates or they sit the normal exams in the autumn term, although “appropriate venues would need to be provided” for both these scenarios. Surely putting exams on will prevent any prejudice in independent private candidates.


Ofqual mulls banning of GCSEs in other countries

This is totally bonkers. IF anything they should scrap GCSEs in their entirety.

Ofqual has said that the two ways of assessment will lead to two types of grades being awarded.

We say this is obviously going to be the case. WE need exams to be on.

Those whose grades are awarded by school. Will inevitably considered to be a weaker candidate.