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 –

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