Pearson’s decision to set out definitive grading points in its specifications for BTEC Tech Awards is "regrettable", exams regulator Ofqual has said today.
In a statement, Ofqual said that the changes had led to “understandable uncertainty and frustration” for students.
On Friday – less than a week before results day – Pearson sent out letters to say that grade boundaries for BTEC Tech Awards had been raised.
Ofqual said this had occurred because, during grading, Pearson had found “learners’ outcomes were significantly higher, and grading was more generous across the cohort, than it had predicted on the basis of students’ prior attainment”.
A petition calling for the grade boundary changes to be reversed has been signed by more than 5,000 people.
Background: Ofqual blasts 'confusion' over BTECs
'Uncertainty and frustration' for BTEC students
The move means that thousands of students could receive lower grades than expected this year. Pearson has been heavily criticised by the sector, with teachers warning that the changes could mean that students lose out on college places.
The regulator said that the action Pearson had taken to set standards was "appropriate at the overall, cohort level", but added that "the decision to publish grading points in their specification may have led some teachers and students to take different decisions than they might otherwise have done".
It added: “There are significant lessons to be learned by all awarding organisations about the commitments they make in their specifications and associated materials, and how they communicate with schools and colleges when issues arise.”