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Ofqual plans ‘glide path’ back to pre-Covid exam grading in England | Exams

Pupils in England might be placed on a “glide path” back to pre-pandemic exam grading over the subsequent two years, as the federal government prepares to unveil plans to keep away from a sudden drop in nationwide A-level and GCSE outcomes awarded from 2022 onwards.

Ofqual, the exam regulator for England, is claimed to be aiming for a “soft landing” in the general distribution of grades that pupils obtain in returning to the system final used in 2019, earlier than the grade acceleration seen in 2020 and 2021 when formal exams had been changed by instructor evaluation.

A change to grading A-levels utilizing the 9-1 numerical system can be underneath severe consideration, it’s understood. That would convey A-levels into line with GCSE grading in England and assist to recalibrate the distribution of upper grades in the direction of these awarded earlier than the pandemic. But such a change is unlikely to be carried out earlier than 2024.

Ofqual and the Department for Education are anticipated to publish additional particulars later this month about how subsequent summer season’s exam assessments might be dealt with, primarily based on responses to the joint session launched in June. According to the session, it’s doubtless that college students in 2022 might be given a wider alternative of matters for some GCSE topics and advance details about the main target of exams in others together with A-levels, in an effort to counteract the disruption to studying brought on by the pandemic.

Policymakers and ministers have been grappling with the difficulty of how to deflate the upper proportion of grades awarded in 2020 and 2021, particularly in A-levels, the place the variety of high A* and A grades has risen sharply. This summer season, 44% of A-level entries had been awarded A or A* by means of instructor evaluation, in contrast with simply 25% of entries by means of exams in 2019.

The acceleration in high grades was much less acute in GCSEs, the place the proportion of entries awarded grades 7-9 – equal to A-A* – rose from 22% in 2019 to 30% this year.

The authorities needs to see a return to the system used in 2019 and earlier than, generally known as comparable outcomes, which anchors the nationwide grade distribution for GCSEs and A-levels to the educational monitor document of the year group taking exams. But that might be tough to obtain instantly, as a result of the two-year absence of exams means different measures of attainment would want to be used.

The difficulty has brought about extended debate inside Whitehall and Ofqual over how to finest obtain a return to pre-pandemic grading. Sam Friedman, a former Department for Education coverage adviser, wrote an influential report for the Institute for Government that advisable anchoring future grades to these awarded in 2020, to keep away from harsh therapy of scholars taking exams in 2022.

But such a transfer has been rejected inside authorities as which means a shift to completely increased grades general, and downgrading the outcomes of those that acquired their outcomes in 2019 and earlier.

Another possibility, of a “cliff edge” abrupt return to pre-pandemic grading, can be doubtless to trigger outrage amongst dad and mom on the injustice for college students in 2022 who’ve additionally suffered from missed studying alternatives, being out of the classroom for a median of 47 days final year.

Instead a “glide path” downwards, making changes in 2022 and 2023, was seen as extra pragmatic and acceptable, in accordance to policymakers who spoke to the Guardian.

Labour has criticised the federal government for not publishing its full insurance policies for the beginning of the brand new faculty year, saying it was very important that head lecturers and college students knew what they had been going through in just a little over seven months’ time.

Kate Green, the shadow schooling secretary, helps pegging the 2022 grade distribution to the 2020 awards, “in recognition that this year’s students will likely be competing with the 2020-21 cohorts for education, employment or training opportunities”.

The DfE mentioned: “In deciding on an approach to grading next year we will be asking Ofqual to be as fair as possible to students taking qualifications next summer and to those who took them in previous years or will take them in the future.”

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