Exam boards ‘in muddle’ over students challenging GCSEs

The Guardian reports that exam boards caused a “massive muddle” this summer over students appealing against their GCSE results, according to an official report by Ofqual. 

The exams watchdog’s investigation showed that some boards had awarded extra marks despite not finding errors in the original marking and that re-marking rules imposed by England’s exam regulator had been ignored.

Ofqual’s official report revealed a big rise in the number of grades that were raised on appeal – in part because of exam boards using outdated procedures.

GCSE English language and literature exams were worst affected by failures, in which “some reviewers changed marks where there was no error with original marking”, according to Ofqual’s report.

Suzanne O’Farrell, an assessment specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said “Grades have been changed, most notably in English language and literature. Now we are told that in some cases this should not have happened, and that this is at least partially responsible for an increase in the proportion of regraded GCSEs.”

Overall, the number of GCSE grades raised after appeal jumped by 50% compared with 2016, as nearly 74,000 entries received higher grades despite Ofqual’s reforms designed to halt an upward creep in re-marking.

Previously, exam results that were challenged were re-marked in detail, with higher marks often the result of minor differences in opinion between markers. Under Ofqual’s new rules, marks would only be changed if a procedural error were discovered, such as an answer being overlooked. There was an initial fall in the number of appeals after the new rules were introduced. 

Read more about the ‘muddle’  Exam boards ‘in muddle’ over students challenging

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  1. Paul Bevis

    The exam boards are quite aware that an examiner can make errors, usually through the misapplication of the mark scheme, especially where they are required to make a judgement on sufficiency i.e has the candidate met enough of the mark scheme criteria to award the mark. On that basis a blind application of Ofqual’s rules would offend the exam board’s sense of natural justice.

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