COVID 19: Exams grading 2020, three things we have learned so far

As we know this summer exams series was cancelled because of Covid19. However, it was decided students would instead be awarded teacher-based grades in order that they can continue their progression within education or into the world of work. More details have emerged since, culminating in a consultation by Ofqual that has just completed.

Whilst we are still awaiting confirmation of outcomes there are some interesting takeaways –

GCSE and A level grades to be ‘Calculated’ not ‘Predicted’

This summer students will be awarded ‘calculated’ grades, instead of exam grades. Teachers will have already predicated grades, for example for University admissions. However, calculated grades are a new addition to the exams lexicon and are a blend of those same teachers’ judgements, rank ordered and moderated based on statistical calculations. Teachers are requested to consider a range of evidence in making their judgments, but there is no specific formula given. The details of the statistical filter are to be confirmed but targeted to deliver a grade distribution in line with projections for the cohort in a normal year. For an individual school or college therefore, this is likely to be based on prior years performance. 

Vocational and technical are more complicated, sort of

Those with experience of both general and vocational qualifications appreciate that there is a spectrum of scenarios from homogeneous to heterogeneous. There is however a clear aim to extend the GQ template as far as possible across the spectrum. Hence where the main purpose of qualifications is in support of progression within the education system, it is proposed that grades will be ‘calculated’ as with GCSE and A levels. For awards that are required for entry or progression within a profession, some of which may have health and safety implications, and therefore competency-based, an adaption of the formal assessment or delivery model is proposed. However, for some awards, it will be necessary to postpone the assessment until such time as it is feasible to undertake them.

Home schooled (private) candidates will not be graded

A relatively small thing but ironic given current circumstances, is that private candidates, many of them home schooled will probably not be awarded grades. Why? Because school or college-based teachers/tutors have no way of judging. Whilst this makes sense on one level there is also a sense of a missed opportunity. Home schooling numbers might well swell substantially in the year ahead, and therefore we might rue the missed opportunity to test online assessment and proctoring whilst numbers were small.

Your views?

Have you responded to the consultations? What where your key takeaways? What lessons do you think we should be learning?

Please share your comments below –

Keep Calm and Carry On(line)

For many in education the forced move to online is a challenge. Without wishing to diminish the very real difficulties people are facing, particularly in the short term, it is interesting to read the perspective of the CEO of a leading awarding body that foresees the current crisis as an opportunity as much has a challenge.

Kirsty Donnelly, the newly appointed CEO of City & Guilds, but a long-term pioneer of online learning, shared her positive outlook in a recent interview with FE Week.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • The current situation may demand changes that in reality should have been embraced long ago
  • Beware of the ‘dominant logic’ of the sector or the organisation, preferred solutions may not be sustainable
  • Be bold enough to start with a ‘blank sheet’ centred on requirements to build a sustainable education and assessment model first with aspects such history, heritage and capabilities integrated where they add value second
  • Consider the value chain and ecosystem in its entirety, chose where to play and be prepared to collaborate, not just compete
  • Make online assessment and proctoring work
  • And finally, recognising that greater central government intervention is a reality, a plea that this is as a participant in the ecosystem rather than just the head

In a nutshell, it’s all there to play for but to survive and thrive we will have to be bold, move at pace and deliver value to its students, employers and society.

Your views?

How do you foresee the future? What are the key challenges? Where are the opportunities?

Please share your thoughts below –

NEWS: Altain to attend Westminster conference on implementing the T-Level programme

Implementing the T level Programme – content, regulation and assessment

Monday 29th April, London 

This timely conference will examine the next steps for the implementation of the T-Level programme, as stakeholders prepare for the first wave of T-Levels due to be taught from 2020 and with Government currently consulting on funding arrangements for the delivery of T-Levels from 2020 onwards.

It also follows the announcement from the Education Secretary of the T-Levels Action Plan which confirmed the next wave of seven T-Levels that will be taught from 2021 – health, healthcare science, science, onsite construction, building services engineering, digital support and services and digital business services.

Delegates will discuss the design of the curricula, following the publication of the final content of the first wave of qualifications from the Institute for Apprenticeships in Summer 2018. The seminar follows the recent announcement by the Secretary of State of £38m capital funding expected to be available from Spring 2019 for the first T-Level providers.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss key themes emerging from Ofqual’s recently published final consultation on their regulatory approach to the new qualifications – and follows the initial consultation which confirmed that the regulator will allow students to take exams more than once throughout the year, allowing them to resit without delay.

Attendees will also consider the assessment and regulation format more widely, including the potential impact of moving to a single awarding body per qualification following the announcement by the Department for Education of the awarding bodies that will develop, deliver and award the first three qualifications – alongside concerns surrounding the potential complexity of the new grading system and the potential impact of a further set of exams in the summer period, and issues around different assessment measures across various subjects.

We expect discussion on the compulsory work placement element of the T-Level, including issues of employer engagement, with a DfE report finding evidence of tension between the willingness and capability of employers to offer T-Level industry placements alongside already existing apprenticeships, and financial concerns for some employers.

Further sessions assess how to prepare the teaching workforce for delivery alongside the teaching of other qualifications, and whether changes are needed to initial teacher training in preparation for T-Levels – as well as what is needed to ensure that T-Levels deliver on their objective parity of esteem with A-Levels.