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AoC responds to Ofqual consultation on grading A Levels and GCSEs

6th May 2020

AoC has today responded to the Ofqual consultation on the exceptional arrangements for grading A Levels and GCSEs this summer. These flow from the government’s decision to cancel exams and ensure that GCSE and A Level candidates are provided with calculated grades this summer. AoC is working with Ofqual and Awarding Organisations to ensure that college students are not disadvantaged. AoC is now considering Ofqual’s proposals for Functional Skills, vocational and technical qualifications which so many college students depend on. Chief Executive, David Hughes commented: “Since the cancellation of this summer’s exams, Ofqual has worked amazingly quickly to develop these proposed arrangements – they make sense and are based on sound principles. I particularly welcome the level of trust being shown in teachers and colleges and I am confident that the process will be taken seriously and produce valid grades. We do have some specific concerns about the operation of the process for colleges and we are seeking reassurance on some points.” Among the main concerns for colleges are: Ranking for large cohorts: We understand the need for ranking, but colleges are concerned about the requirement for centres with very large subject entries to provide a single centre ranking for all their candidate grades. We do not think this extra work is necessary or that it provides any additional accuracy so we are suggesting that it should be possible to submit rankings in batches of 150. For GCSE retake candidates, the results are very ‘bunched’ around grade 3 and 4 so it should be possible for candidates to share the same ranking position. The statistical standardisation process: The starting point should be that the Centre Assessed Grades and rankings submitted are seen as accurate and then to agree the relative importance given to the 3 sources of evidence within the statistical standardisation process.The 16-18 GCSE English and maths cohort will need a different basis for statistical adjustment as it is not a full age-cohort. This also applies to adult GCSE candidates and college based 14-16 year olds. It will be important to be clear how any statistical adjustment has been applied to these cohorts. Predicting centre trajectories: It is not possible to predict centre trajectories into the future, as trends in results (whether up or down) cannot be assumed to continue. The post-16 GCSE English and maths cohort is even harder to predict as it can vary from year to year and will be affected by college entry policies. Colleges who feel that their results were going to substantially change will want to reflect that in their centre assessed grades. For example, there are many colleges which will be predicting strong improvements in GCSE maths achievement as a result of major interventions as part of their involvement with Centres for Excellence in Maths or the 5Rs project, so centre results profiles should not necessarily be linked to past achievements. Equalities impact: The equalities impacts of these arrangements are crucially important. If there is any clear research evidence of systemic under-prediction for specific groups of students this should be corrected for at the national level and be reported on. You can read the full response here.