This summer, all the GCSE exam boards in England (AQA, Edexcel and OCR), raised the grade boundaries for the controlled assessment part of their English qualifications compared with the winter exam series. It would appear that those pupils entering GCSE English with AQA did less well than those with other Boards.
So the central allegation appears to be that children sitting the English exam in January will have achieved a higher grade than if they had sat it in July or with another Board .For the units causing concern — written controlled assessments — 7 per cent of entries were taken in January and 93 per cent in June.
This is what Ofqual the regulator is looking at and will report on today.The Education Select Committee will look at the issue too but clearly doesn’t have the technical nous, or easy access to information to do as good a job as Ofqual can, or is certainly equipped to do , and politicians, even Select Committee members , although tasked with uncovering the truth, and holding the Department to account , have been known to pursue their own political agendas. which can from time to time serve to muddy the waters.
Ofqual, in its report released Friday PM, refused to order exam boards to regrade this summer’s English GCSE . It stood by the new June grading system but also suggested that the marking of exams taken earlier in the year was too generous. It said it will not change the results for either date, so there will be no regrading, but will offer early re-sits in November for students unhappy with their grades. This is unlikely to satisfy all stakeholders, given that some pupils need their results now.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, who heads Ofsted, said on 2 September ”This is a really good opportunity for our system and the secretary of state to look at our examination system and ask whether it is rigorous enough, whether it’s credible enough, whether what’s happened over the last few years in terms of resits, early entries and the modular approach to examination is actually raising standards”
The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, told the BBC on 3 September that the students who sat the exams – in which thousands did not achieve their predicted grades – were not treated in a “fair or appropriate” way and that “injustice” was inherent in the exam system. But he added that it would be wrong for him to intervene to change the grades, after Ofqual, the regulator, refused to regrade the exams. He suggested that the uproar over the grades reinforced the need to move away from modular exams and towards a new qualification where it could be certain there was no grade inflation. Gove has made in clear that he wants fundamental reforms to examinations and caused controversy earlier this year by appearing to suggest that he wanted a return to the more robust O Level format. He said in the Commons on 3 September that GCSEs ” are not fit for purpose “.