Yesterday’s Results Day was a day of mixed emotions. The College was pleased that the hard work of the students resulted in the matching of last year’s highest ever A Level Pass Rate of 99.4%, but as a College we were extremely disappointed by the impact of the Examination Boards standardisation process which resulted in many of our students receiving scaled grades.
The Exam Board standardisation process has supressed 47% of the grades submitted by teachers. This has impacted significantly on the results awarded to students; the College’s A*to B grades are 6% down on last year and the A*-C rate is nearly 2% down in comparison to the previous year. Less than 1% of the grades awarded were increased by the statistical algorithm used by the exam boards.
As soon as exams were cancelled, it was difficult to see how any system for awarding grades could replace an actual exam - this was never going to be a perfect system. Nevertheless, the staff approached the Centre Assessment Grades process set out for them by the Government and Exam Boards with professionalism and integrity – these Centre Assessment Grades were scrutinised and moderated thoroughly. We believe it to be extremely unfair that the hard of work of staff and students has been discounted so readily and the results of the students have been impacted in such a way.
The algorithm employed by the Exam Boards is being questioned as there is concern that it has disadvantaged some students more than others. As a result, A* and A grades within the independent sector have increased in the independent sector by 4.7% against 0.3% in Colleges.
In addition, the recent announcement of the ‘triple lock’ which allows students to go through appeal to use a ‘valid mock’ is also unfair. Centres operate ‘mocks’ in different ways. Not all centres run mocks exams in a traditional way – i.e. replicating an external exam sitting. Often mocks only represent part of a syllabus or they are marked harshly to persuade students to work harder. On the other hand, many students will tell you they do not work as hard for a mock as the “real” thing. Neither the Government nor Ofqual have been able to define what a ‘valid mock’ is as yet. Nor have they told Colleges and students how to appeal on this.
There is a national outcry about this injustice and the failing of the system used. Some students have been not been able to take up places at university because of this.
What should have been a positive, celebratory day for students has been one where they feel the system has worked against them. Students find it hard to understand what has happened and Colleges find it difficult to explain as it is simply unfair.
Principal Karen Hucker said ‘whilst we were very pleased with our overall pass rate, the impact of the standardisation process has had an unacceptable impact on some of our students. Staff at the College are rightly disappointed for those students who have worked so hard. They are extremely angry about what has happened. It is important we continue to raise this injustice in the hope that the Government take action to address it’.
The College will be doing all it can to appeal grades wherever possible on behalf of students.
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