English GCSE: Senior exam board figure quits AQA over “worst decision ever made”

A senior exam board figure has resigned over the shifting of English GCSE grade boundaries which left thousands of pupils with lower grades than expected, suggesting it was “the worst decision ever made by AQA”. This is from the BBC…

Stephen McKenzie quit the exam board AQA on Wednesday after 16 years as a GCSE English moderator.

In his resignation letter Mr McKenzie said the grade boundary shift was “the worst decision ever made by AQA”.

He told BBC News: “I could not go on working for them – to be frank AQA English has fallen apart.”

Mr McKenzie’s resignation came as the exam boards and the exam regulator Ofqual were given more time to consider a legal challenge from teaching unions, schools and local authorities asking them to regrade English GCSE papers.

The alliance has written formally to Ofqual and the exam boards AQA and Edexcel challenging the refusal to regrade GCSE English papers in England. They are threatening to seek a judicial review after thousands of pupils scored lower-than-expected results when grade boundaries were raised midway through the year.

Ofqual has held an inquiry into the problems but stands by the gradings despite complaints that pupils who sat the papers in January got higher grades than those who sat them in June.

In his resignation letter Mr McKenzie called the handling of the affair “morally repugnant” and “disingenuous”.

He said that claims that teachers had marked controlled assessments too generously were based on “paltry evidence” and called the moderation of the qualification “poor, stressed and chaotic”.

He added that AQA had reneged on guidance to schools about the standard needed to achieve a C grade and said that this had hit the most vulnerable part of the student population hardest.

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