The RSS has responded to an Ofqual consultation regarding the new arrangements to provide estimated marks for this year’s GCSE, AS and A level exams. These were cancelled last month due to the closure of schools and colleges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The consultation, ‘Exceptional arrangements for exam grading and assessment in 2020. Consultation on specified general qualifications – GCSEs, AS, A levels, Extended Project Qualifications and the Advanced Extension Award’ examines the arrangements being introduced at speed to award grades to students affected by these exam cancellations, using an unspecified estimation procedure instead.
Our response does not put forward a particular model, but notes that there are important unresolved statistical issues, regarding both the estimation of individuals’ exam results, and the moderation of those by statistical modelling, with which we think the RSS could help. Similar issues arise with any estimation procedure for other qualifications.
Last month, Sharon Witherspoon, RSS VP for Education and Statistical Literacy, wrote to Ofqual and the Department for Education to offer RSS expertise (PDF). She outlined some of the statistical issues that any procedure for estimating exam results must consider. While Ofqual has so far not accepted the Society’s offer, the Society remains willing to help, and will consider engagement with the House of Commons Education Select Committee to ensure these concerns are addressed.
‘We acknowledge that we are in unprecedented times, which has required a response at pace, with difficult decisions,’ says Sharon Witherspoon. ‘As statisticians, we are aware of the enormous ramifications of all the social changes brought about by Covid-19. The outcomes for students whose examinations cannot be taken to the normal timetable is only one of these, but we are keen to make a constructive contribution to this issue.’