Pressurised teachers ‘marked GCSE too generously’

Too much pressure on schools in England to get good GCSE grades led to over-generous marking of English GCSE coursework by teachers which in turn resulted in external examiners having to raise grade boundaries, the exams watchdog concludes. This is from the BBC…

In its final report on the controversy over this summer’s GCSE English exam, Ofqual says external examiners had to raise grade boundaries as a result.

It says pressure on schools to hit targets was to blame for the debacle.

Heads said it was “outrageous” to blame teachers for the fiasco which saw some pupils get lower grades than predicted.

Ofqual chief executive Glenys Stacey said: ” “We have been shocked by what we have found. Children have been let down – that won’t do.

“It’s clear that children are increasingly spending too much time jumping through hoops rather than learning the real skills they need in life – that won’t do.

“Teachers feel under enormous pressure in English, more than in any other subject, and we have seen that too often, this is pushing them to the limit – that won’t do either.”

This summer’s English GCSEs were a new modular qualification, with pupils sitting written exam papers and “controlled assessment” (coursework completed under strict classroom supervision) and schools decided when pupils submitted that assessment work and sat exams.

Ofqual’s research found many schools used the marks pupils received in their first exams and the January grade boundaries to work out what score a pupil would need in their controlled assessment to get a certain grade and marked it accordingly.

Most of the controlled assessment work was submitted in the summer and examiners saw evidence of over-marking.

This led to exam boards raising grade boundaries, meaning some pupils got poorer grades than expected.

In Wales, ministers ordered a regrade for pupils who got a lower grade than expected with Welsh board WJEC, but Ofqual did not order such a move in England.

Ms Stacey said the distribution of this year’s GCSE English results, which saw bunching around the C grade boundary, was “shocking”.

“The unexpected pattern, the unprecedented clustering around perceived grade boundaries for each of the whole qualification is striking.”

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