AQA to review staff training after grade change debacle

The exam board AQA has announced plans to review its training for staff who review exam marks, following an investigation by Ofqual into a huge rise in the number of GCSE grades changed this year.

Ofqual has published an undertaking made by the exam board, in which it admits to not having “acted sufficiently” to change the behaviour and practices of reviewers after new rules came in last year.

The number of GCSE grades changed rocketed by 52 per cent this year, and Ofqual’s chief regulator Sally Collier this week blamed the rise on exam boards that did not follow new rules for grade reviews introduced in 2016.

Collier also alluded to regulatory action being taken against more than one exam board in relation to the increase when she addressed the parliamentary education committee on Tuesday, but would not say more.

Following a review of post-results data relating to reviews undertaken after this summer’s exams, Ofqual identified increases of marks and grades that it “considered to be inconsistent” with fully compliant application of the new rules.

Ofqual investigated the issue and concluded that AQA “had not acted sufficiently to change reviewers’ behaviours and practices”.

As a result of the investigation, AQA has agreed to review training methods and materials for reviewers and “ensure that we more clearly explain, including through exemplification, the circumstances in which changes of marks are appropriate, and in which they are not”.

The undertaking also commits the exam board to ensuring that reviews are only conducted by trained staff. It will also have to amend reviewer contracts to include a specific requirement to undertake training.

The board will also have to implement a monitoring and intervention plan for reviews of November re-sits.

Schools Week understands that AQA was not the only exam board found by Ofqual to have broken the rules, but it is not yet known if other boards have been asked to make similar undertakings.

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