The majority of secondary schools have said they will place more emphasis on tests when deciding pupils’ predicted grades (Picture: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The majority of secondary schools have said they will place more emphasis on tests when deciding pupils’ predicted grades for GCSE and A-levels.
More than half of headteachers – 53% – said they plan to give greater weighting to ‘exam-style papers’, although will use a mixture of assessment methods.
Some 7% said they will base students’ grades on exam-style testing only, and 6% will use just coursework, or ‘non-exam evidence’.
More than 500 secondary school and college leaders in England were asked about predicted grades in a snap poll by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).
It comes after the Department for Education confirmed teachers in England will decide GCSE and A-level grades, after this summer’s exams were cancelled for the second year in a row.
This year, teachers can use a range of evidence when predicting grades including mock exams, coursework, and optional in-class assessments using questions provided by exam boards.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, said: ‘We understand that the public may be confused by the fact that, on one hand, the Government cancelled public exams, and on the other hand, many schools will be using exam-style questions and papers to assess students.
‘However, there are sound reasons for this approach and it is important to understand that schools will be formulating these assessments in line with their knowledge of the content their students have been able to cover during the pandemic.’
Some 7% of schools said they will base students’ grades on exam-style testing only, and 6% will use just coursework (Picture: Shutterstock / Syda Productions)
He added: ‘We should not be surprised about the variability in approaches given that there are very few parameters about how this should be done and a wide range of differing experiences over the past year.’
Think Tank the Education Policy Institute warned earlier this year there was a ‘significant risk’ that schools would take vastly different approaches to grading.
Many experts warned this disparity could ’embed disadvantage’ and benefit pupils who are more privileged.
‘A big challenge is obviously going to be ensuring that standards are consistent nationally across all these different approaches,’ Mr Barton said.
‘Schools and colleges will be assessing evidence against common grade descriptors, and there will be internal and external quality assurance processes. Everything possible is being done to ensure that grades are fair and consistent.’
Heads who decided to base grades on exam-style papers alone argued this would ensure fairness after other evidence was disrupted by self-isolation and lockdowns.
Mr Barton called on the Government and regulators to do ‘everything possible’ to support school and college staff during the assessment of grades.
An Ofqual spokesperson said: ‘This year teachers and school leaders have discretion to decide how to arrive at their judgments of a student’s performance, based on what they have been taught.
‘The arrangements in place give teachers flexibility on how and when to assess their students, and the materials they use to do so.
‘The use of the additional assessment material provided by the exam boards is optional and part of a range of evidence which could be used by teachers to arrive at a grade.’
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