Exams Regulator: No Predetermined Quota For GCSE Grades

Exams Regulator: No Predetermined Quota For GCSE Grades

By Gavin Mackintosh-

Ofqual, the regulator for qualifications, exams, and assessments in England, has announced that there is no predetermined quota for GCSE exam grades this year as it re-iterated a  continuous shift in grade boundaries to reflect the changing demand of  exam assessments in the UK.

In a letter to schools, the regulator advised teachers when preparing students for assessments this summer that when providing feedback or indicative grades  should do so in light of the standard of work required in 2023.

Chief Regulator, Sir Ian Bauckham CBE reminded schools, pupils, and parents that grade boundaries typically change each year to reflect any differences in the demand of the assessments.

‘National results, and results for individual subjects, vary a little each year due to changes in the cohort of students taking particular qualifications and based on how students perform in their exams and assessments.

‘We anticipate outcomes in summer 2024 will be similar to those in summer 2023 with variations in outcomes likely similar to those typically seen in previous years.

Emphasizing transparency and meritocracy, Ofqual aims to ensure that students’ grades accurately reflect their knowledge and abilities, rather than adhering to predetermined statistical targets.

However, critics have expressed scepticism about the regulator’s annual adjustment of grade boundaries, claiming that it aims to portray British pupils as performing better than they actually do in the competitive annual exams.

A number of teachers have decried the tendency for the examination board to shift the grades according to the difficulty of exam papers, whilst its advocates insist this is the fairest way to achieve equitable results each passing year.

Adjusting grades in accordance to performance is believed to amount to a disservice to those at the lowest end of the spectrum, whilst favouring the highest achievers who have not performed on paper as well as their outward grade suggests.

Critics say examiners should mark students according to universal standards in other countries, awarding them grades in accordance with their precise results, not shifting the goal posts every year to suit the potential collective shortcomings of pupils and schools.

‘this whole grade boundary thing is scandalous, one teacher anonymously told The Eye Of Media.Com.

‘It simply appears that the Department Of Education  is pampering its students by making some of them feel they are much better than they are, at the expense of those who do not fair well in the harder papers every year.

Some others say the system of grade boundaries is the best way of achieving fair outcomes.

Claire Coleman, an experienced educator and researcher told The Eye Of Media.Com: ”it is impossible to accurately prepare exam questions that are age appropriate for GCSE pupils every year.

‘Questions for some years will inevitably turn out to be harder than others since they are not exactly predictable, and may turn out to be more demanding in general than anticipated’.

But there are academics who see grade boundaries as an excuse for inadequate teaching or poor learning outcomes by students.

”It’s fiddling with the grades, English teacher Smith Wood said. I don’t agree with this year in year out grade boundaries for GCSE’s.

‘I think there needs to be more quality teaching and thorough testing of pupils throughout there secondary school years without the need to always shift the grade boundaries depending on overall performance.

‘If the exams are considered too difficult, the biggest losers will be those at the bottom end of the spectrum.

‘Adjusting grade boundaries will do little favours for them.

‘They students should be taught well and marked accordingly as they develop, not misled to think they are either better than they are or worse than they are’.

Ofqual was contacted for comment.


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