Concerns about the reliability of teachers’ predictions – especially their tendency to inflate student grades – have led Ofqual, the exam regulator, not to trust them.
Hundreds of thousands of students will receive their A level and GCSE scores next month, though all exams are being phased out this year.
Ofqual has promised that “no child will be penalized” by this year’s system and that all exam scores will be as fair and valid as those from previous years.
But school leaders warn that it will be a year when some students “will necessarily feel victims in a process that does not belong to them”.
Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said Ofqual had done its best, but added: “This was always going to be a problematic year. There will be people who will think the system is not fair this year, but the reality is that Covid is not fair. ”
In March, the Department of Education (DfE) said that teachers who “know their students well” will be asked to send exam boards the grade they believe the student would have received if the exams passed. were unrolled.
Teachers were asked to take students’ marks on mock exams and the quality of their work throughout the course into account when establishing the mark.
The ministers said examination boards would combine this information with other data, to produce a score for each student, but that this will no longer be the primary factor for most students.
“If Ofqual is able to use statistical standardization to produce grades, then in fact the grades provided by teachers are of little or no use at all,” a source told the Sunday Telegraph.
“Teachers are optimistic by nature, they want the best for their students. I don’t think anyone ever thought they would be specific enough to be implemented as results. “
Study finds teachers inflated grades
An Ofqual analysis, released earlier this week, found that teachers increased predicted A-level scores by 12% on average and GCSE scores by 9%.
The watchdog said it was “not surprising” that the grades predicted by teachers were optimistic since teachers “naturally want to do the best for their students.”
Ofqual said its researchers tested 12 different statistical models and chose one that relied on a number of factors, including data on students’ previous education levels as well as previous performance of students in the same school.
According to the model, the “ranking order” that teachers have established for this year’s students will also play an important role in determining grades.
Mr Barton said it was “inevitable” that the grades expected by teachers would be optimistic, adding that the model was “the fairest thing they could do.”
Ofqual insists that the grades expected by teachers are an “important component” because they have helped teachers establish the ranking order.
The predicted scores were also useful for testing different statistical models and for “quality assurance” of final results, the watchdog said.
For new schools, which do not have historical data, as well as for small schools or those where a small number of students take particular subjects, teachers’ forecasts will be the “main source” of evidence for grades.
“Based on the data we reviewed, we would expect that the majority of the grades students receive will be the same as their center assessment grades, reflecting the skills, professionalism and integrity of those involved. ”Said Ofqual.
A spokesperson for the DfE said: “The vast majority of students this summer will receive a calculated grade which will enable them to take the next step in their education or training.
“Ofqual has developed a robust process that will consider a range of evidence, including grades submitted by schools and colleges, with the primary goal of ensuring that grades are as fair as possible for all students.”