The RSS Education Policy Advisory Group (EPAG) has called for a series of reforms after UK students started to be allocated grades in a year when, remarkably, no exams could take place as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
While recognising the difficulties created by this unprecedented situation, EPAG has consistently been expressing unease about how these allocations would be taking place, with its concerns and suggestions being put forward in RSS submissions to Ofqual and the House of Commons' Education Select Committee, as well as in a statement issued today (6 August 2020, PDF).
In May this year, RSS VP for education and statistical literacy, Sharon Witherspoon, wrote to Ofqual to offer assistance but this was not taken up.
In particular, EPAG members have long been calling for greater transparency about the statistical procedures being used – especially in view of the importance of the issues concerned as, quite simply, many students' life-chances are at stake.
In EPAG's view, such transparency would have enabled the systems to be improved and seen as fairer. Without such openness, there's a greater risk of what's been described, after Scottish grades were issued (earlier this week), as a potential 'tsunami of appeals'.
The issue remains a 'live' one as no-one can be completely confident that 2021's exams will be able to go ahead. Accordingly, RSS's long-standing calls for transparency remain as relevant as ever - as does its open offer of assistance to the qualifications authorities.
In the meantime, EPAG's statement calls on the Office for Statistics Regulation to examine the statistical adjustment procedures being employed, with Universities UK and UCAS also being called upon to get more actively involved.
Read the statement (PDF).
On 14 August 2020, Deborah Ashby (RSS President) and Sharon Witherspoon (Vice-President, Education and Statistical Literacy) wrote to OSR to set out the case for a review of the models and processes adopted by the qualifications regulators.
Read the letter
Further Update (24 August 2020):
Ofqual wrote to us in response to our letter of 14 August to OSR. On 24 August 2020 Deborah Ashby (RSS President) and Sharon Witherspoon (Vice-President, Education and Statistical Literacy) responded to Ofqual’s letter.
Read our response to Ofqual