Exam details get personal

10th August 2007 at 01:00
Analysis of marks highlights teachers' strengths and weaknesses as well as pupils'

HEADS WILL be given question-by-question feedback this month on how both their pupils and teachers performed in Edexcel GCSE and A-level exams in a move that could transform teaching and professional relationships.

The examination board is making the information available electronically to all schools and colleges offering its exams, .

All candidates will be able to receive their results online, subject to their school's approval. Around 50,000 will take up the offer.

For maths and science GCSE, schools will also be told in which areas of the syllabus they performed well or poorly, allowing them to target weaknesses from the autumn.

In future, the board is considering telling parents how a teacher's results compare to those in other schools. Jerry Jarvis, Edexcel's managing director, conceded this might lead to litigation, with "ambulance-chasing lawyers" encouraging parents to sue schools for teacher underperformance.

Pupils will also be able to calculate how close they were to achieving a higher grade and be able to gauge whether they should apply for a re-mark or to retake a paper.

From early next year the board will enable students to sit customised multiple-choice tests, based on the exam syllabus they are taking, mid-way through their GCSEs and A-levels. The results will not count towards grades but will identify areas of strength and weaknesses.

Question-by-question analysis is likely to become a feature of the English education scene, with AQA, the largest board, set to start piloting similar feedback to schools next summer. OCR, the third biggest English board, said it had no plans to do the same.

Next week's A-level results are expected to refuel the standards debate, with speculation that for the first time a quarter of entries might receive A grades.

Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said improvements in A-level results over the past 15 years were genuine and reflected increasing investment in schools. Scripts he had seen from last year's English and maths exams had shown "extraordinarily impressive" responses, he said.

Exams under scrutiny, pages 8-9

Jerry Jarvis, page 12

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