Exam appeal reforms could disadvantage students say heads.

‘More pupils will miss out on university places because of mis-marked A-levels as a result of proposed reforms to the exam marking system, headteachers have warned.

Heads of state and private schools have taken the rare step of uniting to condemn proposals that the exam regulator Ofqual claims will help address concerns about re-marking procedures. 

There has been a dramatic rise in complaints about inaccurate exam marking, with challenges jumping by 260 per cent over the past five years. 

Last year more than 90,000 A-level and GCSE results were changed on appeal – an increase of 17 per cent from 2014. Some A-level students have been denied university places because courses filled up before their mis-marked papers could be upgraded.

In an attempt to address the problem, Ofqual has proposed reforms, under which papers would not be automatically re-marked in the event of a complaint from schools. Instead, the original mark awarded by an examiner would stand if it is considered “reasonable” by a second employee of the exam board. This is likely to result in a significant fall in the number of papers re-marked. 

Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents leading private schools, and the National Association of Head Teachers, who between them represent more than 30,000 school leaders, have now submitted a joint response to Ofqual’s consultation, expressing “deep disappointment” with the reforms. 

They said: “We consider the proposals to be unpersuasive, misdirected and likely to make the current unsatisfactory situation worse.” - Independent

‘Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, said: "It's disappointing that some organisations have decided to undermine the tens of thousands of teachers who each year mark exam papers to a world class standard.

"We have a rigorous and robust assessment system that requires these teacher-examiners to undergo thorough training and be continually monitored throughout the marking process. The regulator Ofqual's own research has shown it's a system to have confidence in.

"Where grades change, most are due to a legitimate difference in the two examiners' judgment and often found in subjects like English or history where there's a level of interpretation.

"It's a misunderstanding of the system to claim this equals poor marking and we believe the reforms set out by Ofqual will go a long way in recognising this. Of course, exam boards are committed to eradicating true errors and, in the small number of cases where they do occur, they're corrected."’ – Daily Mail

 

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