A level and GCSE results
Long awaited guidance on how GCSE and A level grades will be awarded has been published in two key documents by Ofqual today.
In brief, exam boards will asking schools to submit, no earlier than by 29th May 2020, a centre assessment grade for every student in each of their subjects: that is, the grade they would be most likely to have achieved if they had sat their exams and completed any non-exam assessment. Judgements should balance different sources of evidence such as classwork, book work, performance, non-exam assessment and mock exams.
They will also require the rank order of students within each grade for each subject – for example, for all those students with a centre assessment grade of 5 in GCSE maths, a rank order where 1 is the most secure/highest attaining student, and so on. This information will be used in the statistical standardisation of centres’ judgements – allowing fine tuning of the standard applied across all schools and colleges.
To make sure that grades are as fair as possible across schools and colleges, exam boards will put all centre assessment grades through a process of standardisation using a model being developed with Ofqual. This will be consulted on, but is expected to look at evidence such as the expected national outcomes for this year’s students, the prior attainment of students at each school and college (at cohort, not individual level), and the results of the school or college in recent years. It will not change the rank order of students within each centre; nor will it assume that the distribution of grades in each subject or centre should be the same. The process will also recognise the past performance of schools and colleges. However, if grading judgements in some schools and colleges appear to be more severe or generous than others, exam boards will adjust the grades of some or all of those students upwards or downwards accordingly.
Schools and colleges have been told that they must not share their centre assessment grades with students, parents or carers, under any circumstances, until after final results are issued. This is to protect the integrity of centres’ judgements, and to avoid anyone feeling under pressure to submit a grade that is not supported by the evidence. Since the final grades for some or all students in a centre could be different from those submitted, it also helps to manage students’ expectations. Results won’t be delayed after the dates they were expected in August and ideally will be released a little earlier, so students can have the certainty they need.
DfE have confirmed that they will not hold schools/colleges to account on the basis of exams and assessment data from summer 2020, and that the data should not be used by others, such as Ofsted, local authorities, academy trusts, etc to hold schools/colleges or teachers to account. DfE will not be publishing, or sharing, institution-level school/college accountability measures, such as Progress 8 and Level 3 Value Added, using the summer 2020 data.
It is gratifying that the system proposed acknowledges teachers’ integrity and that they are the ones who know best their pupils and what they can do. There are difficulties, however, about the ranking. Ofqual recognises this:
Where there is more than one subject teacher, they will need to agree one rank order for all students within the centre who are taking that subject. To do this, teachers within a subject department will need to discuss the rank order and come to a shared view of the standard being applied within their centre. We recognise that this will be challenging for some centres and in some subjects, and in the current circumstances. However, the rank order is important for the statistical standardisation process.
Where a centre has a large entry for a subject, with many different teachers, we recognise that this will be challenging. There are a number of ways in which this could be done, including for example, for each teacher initially to grade and rank order their students; discuss and compare the qualities of students at the top and bottom of the rank order within each grade to ensure that a consistent standard is being applied; adjust the grades accordingly; and then integrate the rank orders by discussing individual students beginning at the top of the rank order and working down.
UPDATE 13/4/20 :
Centre assessed grades
The Association of School and College leaders continues to publish useful advice. For some time now it has championed ‘ethical leadership’ and this in now needed more than ever when determining the centre assessed grades of our pupils.
Its document about the principles which should underpin the generation of grades is an interesting one and reminds us of the need to award the grade that pupils would most plausibly have achieved in their exams for the following reasons:
• Awarding organisations and Ofqual will take steps to ensure that grade distributions resemble previous years. Where centres produce grades which seem particularly generous, a moderation process will be applied.
• Assuming that things head back to normal for the 2021 cohort, an inflated picture in 2020 would disadvantage those students currently in Year 10 and Year 12. They have enough to contend with having had their own studies disrupted.
• This is an opportunity for the profession as a whole to show that it can, and will, produce reasonable grades through the process of teacher assessment. For those who believe that the current system of examinations at 16 is inappropriate there is a chance here to show that an alternative universe is possible.
You can read the full document here: