Exams around the world were cancelled in March and the pandemic spread and schools closed. At first, it was planned that teacher assessments would be used to calculate final grades. This plan was later modified when it was demonstrated that up to 74% per cent of predicted grades are an overestimate of exam performance. Grades are now set to be awarded using teacher assessments of how pupils would have performed, but as many as 40 per cent of grades have been adjusted downwards by OFQUAL (the UK’s Office for Qualifications and Examinations Regulation). The adjustment was made using an algorithm that factors in the school’s performance over the past three years.
In the UK, many have expressed concern over this last-minute change and the impact it will have on students.
Speaking to the British newspaper, The Times, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said,
“The idea of introducing at the eleventh hour a system in which mock exam results trump calculated grades beggars belief. The government doesn’t appear to understand mock exams. They aren’t a set of exams which all conform to the same standards. And some students will not have taken them by the time that schools closed in March. This creates the potential for massive inconsistencies”.
Students will now be able to select one of three options for their final results; the exam board grade, their mock exam result or a resit. Note, students will still have to go through the appeals process to use their mock exam result, with their school required to submit evidence to the exam board.
Education Secretary Mr Williamson has also pledged to waive fees for pupils wishing to take resits in October. Whether this promise will apply to international students is yet to be seen.
In light of the confusion and many changes to the grading format, UK universities have been guided to hold places open for students who plan to appeal against their A Level grades. Appeals can take several weeks and government ministers are keen to ensure that those waiting for the result of an appeal do not lose their place.
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