The exams regulator has given its clearest indication yet that it will get tough on re-marks to end an unfairness of some schools having a better shot at overturning grades.
Ofqual director Phil Beach, writing in a blog today, again highlighted research that found examiners were more generous on appeals leading to “perfectly reasonable marks being changed on enquiry”, as first reported by Schools Week in September.
He said the regulator has proposed that in future examiners can only change marks that “could not reasonably have been given”.
This is a slight change from the current system. At the moment, an examiner can be asked to review marks that have previously been given and as part of that can end up providing new marks.
Under the new proposals, a reviewer will check whether the original marker reasonably interpreted their mark scheme. If so, the original mark will stand. If not, the original mark can then potentially be changed.
Mr Beach said this is to cut out the “inequity” of some candidates being able to “gain an unfair advantage over candidates who do not submit an enquiry”.
Schools have to pay up to £50 to appeal an individual paper. Schools Week has previously reported the differences in the resources of exam departments in schools – particularly between the independent and state sector – that can deal with the re-marking process.
Ofqual is also proposing to monitor reviewers – which does not happen at present – and extend access to marked scripts.
A consultation on changes to Ofqual’s enquiries and results system is due to end today.
As part of that, pupils’ views were sought for the first time in Ofqual’s history.
Mr Beach added: “We know you will want to understand any changes we plan to make ahead of the summer awarding series and we are committed to announce our decisions as soon as possible.”
Around 4.8 million GCSE, 1.2 million AS-levels and 780,000 A-levels were awarded in summer 2015.
Ofqual revealed in December the number of enquiries about these grades had soared by 27 per cent in just one year.
The number of individual enquiries rose from 451,000 in the summer of 2014 to 572,350 last summer, resulting in changes to 90,650 grades, up from 77,400.