Alarm as examiners told to ‘fix’ results

Exam boards have been told they should fix pass rates and grades for this summer’s GCSE and A-level exams to match last year, to halt the year-on-year rises in exam success.

The plan from the exams regulator Ofqual is intended to halt year-on-year grade inflation, the Telegraph reports. By using ‘comparable outcomes’, examiners can change marking boundaries to make sure the same number of pupils get the highest grades every year. Teachers say it could hold students back and hard-working schools won’t see their efforts rewarded.

Over the last ten years there has been a steep rise in the number of pupils achieving top marks at A-level and last year the proportion was set at 27%; now Ofqual wants to extend the system to GCSEs.

Adrian Prandle from the ATL said the move could damage pupils’ future: “If exam boards can ensure that pupils who sit an exam this year won’t get lower grades than they deserve then we welcome it. However, if as a consequence of tougher rules on grade boundaries, pupils are denied the opportunity to gain the highest grade of which they are capable and which they would have got in another year, then they will be unfairly disadvantaged. In these tough economic circumstances, that will hit pupils’ future chances hard.”

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, said: “The awarding bodies are going to be asked to account for any big deviation upwards. I think it is a useful interim measure to tackle the gross inflation in A-level results but it can only be temporary.”


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