Examiners ‘failing to spot A* answers’, say private schools

The Telegraph is reporting claims heads that bright pupils from leading private schools are being penalised in exams because inexperienced markers cannot recognise “A* material”…

Independent schools are making a record number of appeals against grades awarded in GCSEs and A-levels this year because of concerns over “serious shortcomings” in the marking process, it emerged.

It is believed the total number of re-marks demanded by schools will top 310,000 for the first amid mounting anger over exam standards, particularly in relation to more “subjective” essay-based disciplines such as English, English literature and history.

The issue will become a flashpoint at this week’s annual meeting of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents 260 top independent schools.

One head told how examiners effectively penalised the brightest students who moved “beyond the mark scheme” to show genuine flair.

The Telegraph has been told how:

• An AS-level politics student from Guildford High School achieved the equivalent of an E grade even though her essay was deemed so good that it was quoted in an examiners’ report as an example of outstanding work. The paper was re-marked as a B and – in a largely unprecedented step – graded a third time by the chief examiner to gain an A;

• A top school in the south-east saw its proportion of A*/A grades in English literature drop from 98 per cent two years ago to just 69 per cent this summer despite having the same teaching, similar pupil cohort and exam board. Fourteen pupils have had their papers remarked so far and each one increased by a grade, including 12 going from A to A*…

• Outside the private sector, Bexleyheath Academy in Kent queried two English language GCSE results papers where pupils received “zero”, only to see them jump to 73 and 86 after being re-marked.

Headmasters are now demanding a wholesale change to the examinations system, including greater incentives for experienced teachers to mark test papers and imporved standards of training.

Currently, examiners can be paid as little as £2 per exam script.

Richard Harman, chairman of HMC and headmaster of Uppingham, said: “There are serious shortcomings in our public exam system which the exam regulator [Ofqual] has so far shown itself unwilling or unable to address with sufficient speed and urgency.

“English, in part because of the numbers of examiners it needs, is often where these show up most.”…

More at: Examiners ‘failing to spot A* answers’, say schools

 

Private school heads are making these claims here, but in some ways is the situation even worse in state schools where budget issues may make it much harder for schools to undertake the same level of re=marking requests? Please tell us how you see it in the comments or via Twitter and take part in our poll… 

 

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Categories: News, Private Schools and Secondary.

Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Are all these stories not a consequence of constant interference from ministers resulting in confusion over what’s required?

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Are all these stories not a consequence of constant interference from ministers resulting in confusion over what’s required?

  3. Janet2

    Too many exams – too many markers.  This is bound to result in inconsistency and poor marking.  Time to drop high-stakes tests at 16 and move towards graduation at 18 via multiple routes.  This would reduce the need for so many markers and spread the markers among different exams (eg A levels, vocational exams, TechBac, ModBac).

  4. Janet2

    Too many exams – too many markers.  This is bound to result in inconsistency and poor marking.  Time to drop high-stakes tests at 16 and move towards graduation at 18 via multiple routes.  This would reduce the need for so many markers and spread the markers among different exams (eg A levels, vocational exams, TechBac, ModBac).

  5. Busy Mum

    My daughter has been told by an English teacher that her comments were ‘too insightful’; by a History teacher that her analysis of a cartoon was of degree standard but wouldn’t get the necessary GCSE marks…so please, just keep it simple and give the answers the examiners want/expect.

  6. Busy Mum

    My daughter has been told by an English teacher that her comments were ‘too insightful’; by a History teacher that her analysis of a cartoon was of degree standard but wouldn’t get the necessary GCSE marks…so please, just keep it simple and give the answers the examiners want/expect.

  7. Busy Mum

    My daughter has been told by an English teacher that her comments were ‘too insightful’; by a History teacher that her analysis of a cartoon was of degree standard but wouldn’t get the necessary GCSE marks…so please, just keep it simple and give the answers the examiners want/expect.

  8. Busy Mum

    My daughter has been told by an English teacher that her comments were ‘too insightful’; by a History teacher that her analysis of a cartoon was of degree standard but wouldn’t get the necessary GCSE marks…so please, just keep it simple and give the answers the examiners want/expect.

  9. mrpeel

    SchoolsImprove I don’t think this is unique to PVT sector at all. Sadly the cost of a remark is often prohibitive for many other students.

  10. HughdjNicklin

    SchoolsImprove A His what? Examiner friend told to re-mark a batch upwards because it was from ‘a good (sc independent) school’.

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