Exam grade appeals system needs overhaul, says Ofqual

Published on Friday, 14 February 2014 09:18
Written by Daniel Mason

A review of the marking system overseen by exam boards in England has recommended that the appeals system should be overhauled to be fairer and more transparent.

The exams regulator, Ofqual, said the overall quality of marking at GCSE and A level was good but that improvements could be made in a number of areas.

In particular there has been an increase in the number of appeals made by schools against results on the C/D grade boundary at GCSE and A/B grades at A-level.

Teachers saw these appeals as a "one way bet" that could see a student's grade improved or remain the same, the report said.

Chief regulator Glenys Stacey said the appeals system had come under "increasing pressure, particularly from accountability measures and overly complex processes" with schools looking to improve their position on league tables.

"To make our appeals system fit for the future we need to overhaul it. We want a new system that is more transparent, fair and sufficiently robust to differentiate between reasonable variations in marks and genuine marking errors.

"I hope that teachers will increase their knowledge and understanding of the system, and in turn their confidence, with schools and colleges supporting them to do that."

Other proposals put forward in the report include better monitoring of the quality of marking, better data capture and feedback mechanisms, improved mark scheme design and better teacher engagement with the system.

"Our report has found that the overall quality of marking is good," Stacey said. "There is much to have confidence in, but there is no doubt that it could be better still."

She added: "Although genuine mistakes are few and far between, they undermine confidence in the system," Stacey said.

"Exam boards will be expected to work with us to deliver our recommendations and to increase transparency, particularly in relation to their own marking errors."

Ofqual said it hoped to have a new appeals system in place for the summer of 2015.

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