Ofqual confirms changes to reviews of coursework marking

Changes to the way schools review coursework marks requiring leaders to judge marking consistency have been confirmed by the exams regulator.

Ofqual launched a consultation in December, which proposed, among other things, a rule change around reviews of marking to make them “clearer and more effective”.

Today, the regulator published its official response to the consultation, revealing that just 11 responses were received. Most of the other proposals focus on changes to the way exam boards work.

The changes mean that schools asked to review marks for a centre-marked assessments, including coursework, must “judge whether the marking of an individual student’s work is consistent with the rest of the marking of the centre” and let exam boards know.

However the new rules “place no specific requirements on an exam board to take any particular action” if they find the school’s marking is inconsistent. Instead, the exam board might just choose to review a greater number of exam scripts from the school, or mark all of the scripts itself.

The new rules will apply to centre-marked assessment, which includes coursework and controlled assessments.

According to Ofqual’s consultation response published today, two exam boards “expressed concerns” with the changes because “they might result in exam boards more frequently becoming involved in centres’ [e.g. schools] internal reviews”.

One warned that if the original teacher’s mark was correct, and the reviewer’s mark was not, but the reviewer’s mark is submitted “there is a risk that this mark could take the average difference between centre and moderator out of tolerance for the whole cohort, and this could lead to the marks being regressed based primarily on this one incorrect mark”.

But Ofqual said because it is the exam board that awards the qualification, “it is appropriate for an exam board to take responsibility in difficult cases to ensure all students receive accurate marks”.

Overall, six out of 11 respondents agreed the new requirements for reviews of marking would make expectations clearer. Three disagreed.

The regulator has also confirmed a new rule which requires schools to inform exam boards if there is a dispute over an in-house review of marking. If a school does not accept the outcome of such a review, it must contact the exam board and ask them to make a decision.

The regulator has also simplified its guidance on reviews of marking for exam boards and schools, for example, by shortening unnecessarily long sentences.

It has also decided to make it clearer that private candidates can apply directly to exam boards for both reviews and appeals, instead of needing the support of a school to do so.

There were only 11 responses to the consultation – four from exam boards, and just two from schools or colleges. Only one teacher responded. The rest were exams professionals or those in other roles.