English School Exam Results Improve Significantly After Algorithm Removal

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Secondary school results have improved markedly in England this year, as GCSE and A-level students were given teacher-assessed grades after the government removed a computer algorithm for setting grades.

Figures released Thursday showed that the overall pass rate among 16-year-olds who took the GCSE rose to 78.8%, from 69.9% in 2019. Those with the highest marks, from 7 to 9, went from 21.9% to 27.6%. hundred.

The proportion of 16-year-olds reaching level 4 and above in English rose to 80.2% from 70.5% and in mathematics to 77.2% from 71.5%.

Ofqual, the exam regulator, also released the new teacher-assessed A-level grades on Thursday. The proportion of top marks, A * and A, increased by 13 percentage points, from 25.2 in 2019 to 38.1 in 2020, while the proportion of grade C and above increased from 75.5 % to 87.5%.

Students did not take exams this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and grades were set by schools and sent to Ofqual for moderation. The regulator had sought to avoid significant inflation of ratings by normalizing ratings according to an algorithm.

But the system, which downgraded 40% of A-levels compared to teachers’ predictions, was scrapped after yielding results that appeared to disadvantage children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The government’s turnaround meant that GCSE students received the higher of their teacher-rated mark or a moderate score calculated by Ofqual on Thursday.

The results were announced hours after further chaos hit the results season on Wednesday, when the Pearson exam board withdrew the professional BTec results of 475,000 students after deciding they had to revert to the grades being assessed. by teachers to match A and GCSE levels.

Cindy Rampersaud, senior vice president of Pearson, said she made the decision to avoid “injustice” as scores for GCSEs and A-levels were now “significantly higher” than for professional qualifications .

At Carmel College in Darlington, a Catholic public school, the mood when students opened their GCSE score envelopes contrasted sharply with the subdued atmosphere last Thursday when some A-level students discovered that their expected grades had been downgraded.

Isaac Ryans receives his results at Carmel College in Darlington

Isaac Ryans receives his results at Carmel College in Darlington © Mark Pinder

Isaac Ryans was among those at the school who had a pleasant surprise seeing their results. “My 5 in math is the highest I got,” he said.

The main shock to the school was that some students showed up to find out that they would not be getting their BTec results.

GCSE scores for 600,000 students of all ages increased by almost 9 percentage points year over year, with 76% completing grade 4 and above, up from 67.1% in 2019. The proportion of the best GCSE scores, 7 to 9, increased. from 20.7% in 2019 to 25.9% this year.

In Northern Ireland, the proportion of pupils scoring A * to C on the GCSE increased by 7.6 percentage points to 89.4 percent, and in Wales by 11.7 percentage points to reach about 74.5 percent.

Percent of students (%) column chart showing results at A level in England

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who has come under heavy criticism for his performance management in England, congratulated everyone who received their grades.

“I know how difficult this year has been for students due to the coronavirus outbreak, having to be out of the classroom and away from their friends,” he said.

Douglas Ross, the new Scottish Conservative leader, has said Mr Williamson should consider stepping down.

“I’m not here to say in your report that I think Gavin Williamson has done a great job and that he should continue,” he told the BBC.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb apologized for the “delays, uncertainty, pain and anxiety” caused by the results fiasco.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, called for an “immediate independent investigation” into why the algorithm problems were not anticipated or addressed.

“In many ways, the standardization debacle is the logical conclusion – the idea that the whole scoring system could be mirrored through the application of a statistical model,” he said. “We have to do better.”

Labor has called on the government to “urgently” publish all correspondence to and from Mr Williamson regarding the algorithm.

School leaders have warned that increasing GCSE grades could put pressure on sixth-grade colleges as more students than normal qualify for class places after age 16.

Alan Brookes, president of the Kent Association of Head Teachers and principal of Fulston Manor School, said the inflated grades could also encourage students to take classes that were not right for them.

“I don’t know of any school that keeps between 11th and 6th grade, but none will want to encourage students to spend two years of their lives taking a course that is not suitable for them,” he added.

Joy and lingering uncertainty prevail on results day

For most of the 200 students who took their GCSE scores at Carmel College, a Catholic public high school in Darlington, the government’s decision to use grades based on teacher assessments meant there was little shock.

However, the overnight decision to withhold BTec’s results meant some left empty-handed.

The main angst has remained outside of school, for students who, after scoring disappointing baccalaureate results last week, are still unsure whether universities will honor the top marks awarded to them this week.

Sarah Wilcock, 16

© Mark Pinder

Sarah, 16, who lives near Barnard Castle, received eight Grade 9 and two Grade 8 GCSEs. “It’s pretty much the same as what I got in the simulations,” she said. She will enter the sixth form of Carmel and later hopes to study medicine or biomedical sciences.

Watching the government’s U-turns on the results had been “a little stressful,” she said. “They had six months to sort something out. They left it until the last minute and made a bit of a mess.

The past week had an impact on her; offering proof that student protest can work. “It’s very inspiring what they’ve done,” she said.

Harvey Reed, 16

© Mark Pinder

Harvey, of Darlington, has four GCSEs, including math and English, but has to wait for his BTec results. He was phlegmatic about it. “I’m really fine.” He hopes to hear next week.

Harvey goes to Darlington College. His plan is to become a mechanic and work for his father who owns a garage in town.

Having this family guarantee helps to wait for BTec results in the midst of uncertainty. “It makes me feel more comfortable,” he said. “[But] it’s a little off-putting not knowing what they’re going to do.

Sarah Azam, 18

© Mark Pinder

Sarah, from Darlington, is an A-level student eager to find out what will happen to her university place to study medicine.

Last Thursday, she received the grades A *, A, B, which cost her a place at Imperial College London since her offer was conditional on obtaining A *, A, A. Carmel teachers tried in vain to help him find a place through the clearing.

After the government turnaround, Sarah now has A *, A *, A. But after her initial rapture, she’s in limbo, with no certainty about what will happen next. “There was a lot of chaos, not just for me, but for my friends and family. It is frustrating that I don’t have a solid answer. I did all I could.

If Sarah has to wait a year, she knows finding a temporary job won’t be easy, and she worries about the wider impact of a year.

“I feel like we are being forgotten,” she said. “They had five months to fix this problem. It’s like we don’t have the right of way when we should have been.

Video: What went wrong with the A-level algorithm?


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