Ofqual say high quality of GCSE and A-level marking ‘not nevertheless excellent enough’

Examination watchdog Ofqual said the top quality of GCSE and A-degree marking is “not nevertheless great enough” and announced ideas to overhaul oversight of exam benefits, following revealing that one particular in each and every 100 A-level and GCSE grades was transformed right after becoming challenged by colleges and pupils this summer.

The regulator mentioned it was “particularly concerned” at the upsurge in difficulties and warned of “significant implications” for schools of alterations to the techniques of marking and re-marking for the two flagships exams. This follows evidence of deterioration in the reliability of outcomes, which some blame on poorly trained markers employed by the boards that administer the exams.

The rise in successful challenges and re-markings follows previous worries inside the Department for Training (DfE) over the good quality of marking, with the DfE said to have “a wonderful deal of concern” that erratic marking could harm the credibility of the exams.

Figures launched by Ofqual display the variety of challenges that resulted in GCSE or A-degree grades becoming transformed has more than doubled in the last 4 years, regardless of a fall in the general quantity of grades awarded by the examination boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In exams taken this summer time, the quantity of grades challenged rose by 26% in contrast with 2013, to 414,000, with 77,000 or 19% of these problems resulting in grades becoming revised – a 42% increase on the preceding year.

With just beneath 8m total A-degree and GCSE grades certified in 2014, that meant that almost one in every 100 grades have been modified as a result of problems. That represented a sharp rise from 2013, when only close to 1 out of every single 180 were altered. In 2011 fewer than one particular in each and every 200 grade was changed.

In commentary on the outcomes, Ofqual stated: “We are specifically concerned about the increases in the amount of enquiries about benefits. The data propose that really significant mistakes are relatively unusual, but schools and colleges tell us otherwise.

“We know that these qualifications are hugely significant for students, their parents and for colleges and colleges. Marking good quality is usually very good but it is not however great ample, and we will proceed to require exam boards to boost their instruction and monitoring of examiners.”

The sharp rise was partly due to improved numbers of effective problems to GCSE grades. In earlier many years A-degree grades had been far more very likely to be changed as a end result of challenges, but in 2014 there was a jump in the amount of GCSE challenges and re-marks issued, as colleges and examination candidates grappled with alterations to GCSE examination formats.

In its commentary, Ofqual mentioned: “We also plan to overhaul the enquiries about results method in long term, so that it can greater distinguish amongst marking errors and variations of view in between equally experienced experts, especially in individuals topics in which a lot more subjective judgements of the quality of pupil operate are needed.

“As any changes will have important implications for schools and colleges, we are considering very carefully the feasibility of attainable options.”

The watchdog stated it had commenced function on efforts to increase marking top quality and evaluate the examiner coaching presented by examination boards.

“We are already discussing with exam boards the arrangements for 2015, like further checks they can put in location to boost marking good quality,” Ofqual stated.

Even though re-marking can see candidates’ grades go down as well as up, in practice the huge majority of grade modifications noticed increased awards than previously provided. Out of 54,000 modifications at GCSE, only 400 went down, while only 600 out of 23,000 A-level grades went down.

In a report issued alongside the statistics, Ofqual mentioned: “Changes as a consequence of submit-final results enquiries are far more most likely to be upward simply because colleges are a lot more most likely to challenge final results that are just below a grade boundary than other results. Examiners carrying out critiques of marking will be mindful that college students are often just below a grade boundary and so are more probably to give college students the ‘benefit of the doubt’ and award added marks.”

The AQA examination board’s GCSE English and English language unit attracted the most problems overall, though OCR’s GCSE French saw enquiries by almost one out of every 10 entries. At A-degree, music units taken by means of the Pearson and AQA boards attracted the highest proportion of complaints, with 750 enquires out of almost six,000 entries.

Previously, the head of English at one school in England advised the Guardian: “I have skilled awful examination marking this summer. We utilized AQA and sent back much more scripts than ever just before. The re-marked scores have, on the whole, gone up, sometimes by 12 marks or a lot more.”

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