Ofqual advisor: A-level and GCSE results a 'shambles'

Giving candidates teacher-assessed grades may 'take the heat off' the situation says assessment expert Professor Robert Coe

Rob Coe

An Ofqual advisor has described this year's controversial exam grading system as "an absolute shambles" and says reverting to teacher-assessed grades might "take the heat off" out of the growing controversy. 

Professor Robert Coe, a member of Ofqual’s standards advisory group, said that "at the very least" there had been a "massive communications failure and a management failure".

The leading assessment expert suggested the delay in announcing an appeals system had made things worse.

"People in schools are just tearing their hair out at their inability to support students who've had their lives wrecked and they don't know what the process is as we still haven't had that guidance," he said. "So the whole thing is an absolute shambles."

A levels 2020:

Expectations of A-level and GCSE grades U-turn grow

Top private schools want teacher grades U-turn

A-level 'chaos' deepens as Ofqual suspends appeal rules

Prof Coe, a leading assessment expert, was speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme when he agreed with a previous speaker, Labour's shadow education secretary Kate Green, who said that “teacher-assessed grades should form the basis of A-level results” and “we need to keep the options open with GCSEs”.  

Asked what "the way out" was for this week's GCSE results, he said: “There isn't a great way out.

"I’m inclined to agree with what Kate Green just said that given the mess we're in... the big downside of teacher assessed grades is grade inflation because too many students would qualify for university or in the case of GCSEs would qualify for further destinations.

"I mean that seems like a relatively minor problem compared with the amount of outrage that’s out there and the political momentum that this whole thing is taking on, particularly if the cap is lifted on university places [and] that much less applies in the case of post-16 destinations.”

He said another problem linked to using teacher-assessed grades was the issue of comparability with previous and future years, but he added: “It does have implications, it’s not a cost-free solution but politically it maybe takes the heat off.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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