GCSEs: DfE wants to 'learn lessons' from 2020 grading

Research project aims to reveal the 'fairness' of different methods for measuring students’ attainment

Catherine Lough

GCSEs and A levels: DfE wants to 'learn lessons' from 2020 grading

The Department for Education is set to use students' data from the grading process in 2020, when public exams were cancelled, in order to "learn lessons" and shape future education policy.

A joint project between the DfE, Ofqual and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) will give external researchers and analysts access to student examination and admission data from 2017 to 2020.


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The DfE said: "In summer 2020, with the closure of schools and cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, alternative awarding arrangements were put in place, with students receiving either the higher of a standardised grade or their centre assessment grade."

Researchers will get access to 2020 GCSE and A-level grading data

It added that the aims of the project are to "learn lessons" from the awarding of GCSEs and A levels in 2020, and use data from the awarding of both GCSEs and A levels from 2017 to 2020 to "inform future education policy – particularly around the fairness of methods for measuring students’ attainment, and implications for schools’ and colleges’ admissions processes".

The project, known as GRADE (Grading and Admissions Data for England), will give researchers access to students' data through the Office for National Statistics Secure Research Service. This can include students' gender, ethnic origin, free school meals eligibility, special educational needs status, and the number of GCSEs taken and grades awarded.

Names are not shared and the data has been de-identified.

The data will be used to scrutinise the "standardisation model" used in summer 2020, the impact of exam awarding approaches on particular students and the impact of awarding approaches on schools and colleges.

In 2020, A-level results were standardised through a controversial "algorithm", prior to a government U-turn that resulted in mostly teacher-assessed grades being awarded.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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