GCSEs: Autumn grades boosted by summer ‘generosity’

Ofqual says grade boundaries for this autumn’s GCSE, A-level and AS resits will take into account the more generous grades awarded this summer
19th October 2020, 10:15am

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GCSEs: Autumn grades boosted by summer ‘generosity’

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/gcses-autumn-grades-boosted-summer-generosity
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Students sitting GCSE and A-level exams as part of the autumn series this year will be awarded grades in line with the "generosity" of mostly teacher-assessed grades in the summer, the exams regulator has announced.

In a new blog published by Ofqual, the regulator said: "This exceptional exam series was put in place to give students who were disappointed with their grade in the summer the opportunity to take an exam to try to improve their grade, and to give those private candidates who were unable to get a grade in the summer the opportunity to take an exam.


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"To be as fair as we can to those students, we are working with exam boards to carry forward the generosity from summer 2020 grades, the majority of which were based on centre assessment grades."

The blog begins by talking about A and AS levels, but Ofqual has confirmed that the "generosity" will also to apply to autumn GCSEs.

The regulator added that boards would need to use "proxy" grade boundaries for the autumn series, created by adjusting the 2019 boundaries in line with the higher proportion of top grades in summer 2020.

Ofqual said that entry levels for the exceptional autumn series of exams were low, with just A-level 20,000 entries compared with more than 700,000 during a typical summer series.

And it said it might be difficult to use statistical predictions to guide the proportion of grades when, in some subjects, the cohorts would be very small.

"In this exceptional autumn series, the largest entry A-level subject is maths, with just over 4,000 entries, but there are many subjects where the overall entries are only a few hundred, which means even smaller numbers for each exam board," Ofqual's blog says.

"With such small numbers, the students entering for each subject are likely to be unrepresentative of those in the summer cohort. Statistics will therefore be of limited usefulness."

Ofqual said that senior examiners would be used to judge the quality of student work instead "as is always the case in very small awards", and that archive student work would be considered as part of the process.

The regulator said that with such small entries in many subjects, results were likely to be "atypical" and should not be compared with results in summer 2019 or 2020.

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