GCSE and A-level results expected to be higher this summer after exams cancelled

Autumn school exams warning
Autumn school exams warning (PA Wire)
17:14pm, Tue 21 Jul 2020
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GCSE and A-level students’ results are likely to be higher this summer than previous years after exams were cancelled and schools submitted grades, England’s exams regulator has said.

Ofqual has said it is “not surprising” that grades calculated by many schools and colleges were more optimistic, as teachers “naturally want to do their best for their students”.

Many students will receive at least one grade next month that has been adjusted amid standardisation by exam boards to ensure results are not significantly higher and the value of students’ grades are not undermined.

If the teacher-assessment grades had not gone through the standardisation process, this year’s results would have been 12 percentage points better than in 2019 at A-level and nine percentage points at GCSE, Ofqual said.

“Improvement on such a scale in a single year has never occurred and to allow it would significantly undermine the value of these grades for students,” the regulator warned.

The concern that identifiable groups of students would lose out from this year’s arrangements have not been borne out

But even after moderation, Ofqual has predicted that students’ results this summer will be “better” than last year’s, with an increase of 1% for GCSE across the grades and around 2% for A-level grades.

This year, for example, in tiered GCSEs, students will not fall off the higher tier and be ungraded if centre assessment grades are adjusted downwards – which could see national results improve.

But Ofqual has said it expects almost all grades that students receive to be the same as the centre assessment grades “or within one grade.”

“Results for students will therefore almost always be broadly in line with centres’ and teachers’ expectations, reflecting the skills, professionalism and integrity of those involved,” they said.

GCSE and A-level students in England will be awarded calculated grades on the usual dates next month based on teacher assessments which will be standardised by exams boards using a model developed by Ofqual.

Earlier this month, the Commons Education Select Committee warned that pupils could miss out on the exam results they deserve this summer as the system risks being “unfair” for disadvantaged students.

The MPs said it was “concerned” that poorer pupils, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students, and children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) “could be disadvantaged” by calculated grades.

But on Tuesday, Ofqual said their analysis found that “there will generally be no widening of the gaps in attainment between different groups of students”.

They said: “The concern that identifiable groups of students would lose out from this year’s arrangements have not been borne out.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “With thousands of schools and colleges assessing millions of GCSE and A-level grades, it would have been incredible if every grade had perfectly matched a national statistical model, and there were always bound to be adjustments.

“This was recognised from the outset with schools being asked to rank pupils so that adjustments could be made either down or up when exam boards standardised the grades.”

He added: “We can assure parents and pupils that schools and colleges set about the task of grading and ranking pupils in unprecedented circumstances with the utmost diligence and care.”

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