A-level results: exam boards ‘guesstimating’ students’ grades

The Telegraph is reporting that exam boards have admitted hundreds of A-level grades are “guesstimated” each year as fears grow over the reliability of marking ahead of this year’s results.

…The Telegraph has established that the country’s leading exam boards have quietly introduced a system to “estimate” grades in cases where papers have “gone missing”.

It is understood that this policy was introduced to avoid students having to resit papers.

The disclosure added to concern among leading schools that exam boards may be cutting corners as they struggle to process results in time for university admissions. Peter Hamilton, of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents independent schools, said the discovery of boards using “guesswork” was “disturbing”.

“Pressures on exam boards following constant changes by the Government to course regulations and timing of exams has made accurate, timely marking hard to manage,” he said. “It is also difficult to recruit sufficient high quality examiners. However, young people are reliant on accurate grades issued at the right time to get into top universities and this has the potential to ruin a student’s life chances.”

Sources confirmed that the practice of estimating a grade on papers that get lost had been used for a number of years as a “quick fix”, and was likely to continue.

Mark Dawe, the chief executive of the OCR board, said: “We [mark] three million papers and papers will get lost in the post or they will get put in wrong envelopes. That happens every year with every exam board and that’s where the estimated grade comes in…”

More at: A-level results: exam boards ‘guesstimating’ students’ grades


Is the Telegraph telling us anything we don’t know about the use of estimated grades in exceptional circumstances here?

More broadly, are you concerned that exam boards may be cutting corners because of the additional pressures they are facing?

How confident are you that this year’s results will be reliable compared, at least, to standards in recent years?

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  1. egaliteacher

    more shoddy reporting from @tele_education. What else are exam boards supposed to do when scripts are lost. Talking about too small % to be a real concern.
    Also unrelated to wider concerns about exam making and shouldn’t be lumped together in the persuit of a more dramatic story which seems to be entirely focused on trying to panic parents as results day approaches. Very poor stuff from the Telegraph.

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