Over half of leaders plan to give greater weighting to “exam-style papers” than other forms of assessment when issuing grades this summer, a union survey has revealed.
The poll of 521 members of the ASCL school leaders’ union also found that around one in 14 respondents plan to base grades on exam-style papers alone, despite exams regulator Ofqual recommending a “range of evidence” be used.
GCSEs and A-levels have been cancelled this year. Grades will instead be based on teacher assessments. Exam boards have provided optional assessment materials for schools to use alongside other evidence like coursework and mock exam results.
Leaders were asked to describe their general approach to awarding grades by ASCL, which mostly represents secondary headteachers. Fifty-three per cent of respondents said they would base grades on a “combination of exam-style papers and non-exam evidence, but with greater weighting given to exam-style papers”.
Twenty-six per cent said grades would be based on a combination of evidence, with roughly equal weighting given to exam and non-exam-style approaches, while seven per cent said they would base grades only on papers set in exam-style conditions.
Exam-style papers favoured because of lockdown disruption
Reasons given for using only exam-style papers included disruption caused by lockdowns, the quality of evidence, the assurance given to whole cohorts and that it was pupils’ own work, ASCL said.
Members were also asked to list all the types of assessment evidence they intend to use. The most popular was “chunked” or partial exam-style questions, cited by 89 per cent of respondents, and non-exam assessments, mentioned by 84 per cent.
Seventy-four per cent intend to use results of mock exams that have already been taken.
ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said: “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.”
But he said it was “important that parents, politicians and the commentariat understand that there is no one-size-fits-all model out there, and nobody thinks that any of this is ideal”.
It comes after Ofqual chief regulator Simon Lebus told the i newspaper there were “all sorts of things that could go wrong this summer, but we go into it much better prepared than we were last year”.