Downgrading on appeal is unfair

17th August 2001 at 01:00
Changing the system so that exam grades can go down on appeal cannot be justified in assessment theory, nor does it increase "fairness", as claimed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority ("Warning: on appeal, grades can go down as well as up", TES, June 22).

Consider a script originally awarded grade C but reduced to D on appeal. The second examiner's subjective judgment does not automatically negate the first examiner's view. Indeed, a third marker may re-award the original result. This is a consequence of the unreliability of scoring - a factor that cannot be entirely eliminated in any assessment system.

So, students who feel their grades are too low should appeal. If an appeal results in a lower grade, they should appeal again, this time using the evidence of the original grade, awarded by the examining authority, in support.

George Bethell

Cambridge Assessment and Development in Education

Stone Croft Valley Road

Battisford, Suffolk

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