Top A-level pupils could be aiming for A** next year: Exams regulator eyes plan for extra category to pinpoint exceptional pupils in bid to tackle grade inflation
- Ofqual are considering adding higher grade to help pinpoint exceptional pupils
- Exam regulator is putting together focus group to determine how grades should be allocated following the disruption caused for students during the pandemic
- A record almost half of all A-level grades last year were awarded an A or A*
Top A-level students could be awarded a mark of A** next year to tackle grade inflation, according to Ofqual.
The exams regulator wants a focus group to discuss how grading should be allocated following the disruption of the pandemic.
One of the options to be considered is adding an extra category at the top to help pinpoint the truly exceptional pupils.
Almost half of all A-level grades last year were awarded an A or A* – a record.
Exams regulator Ofqual wants a focus group to discuss how grading should be allocated following the disruption of the pandemic and could introduce a top grade to tackle inflation
The surge came because exams were cancelled due to the pandemic, leaving teachers to decide marks instead.
Exams will be back in 2022, but experts are trying to decide how they will be assessed without anyone being penalised.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, has spoken about a ‘glide path’ back to more normal proportions of pupils getting the top grades.
Before the pandemic, only around 25 per cent used to get A or A*. In a document seen by the Times Education Supplement, Ofqual indicated that pupils taking exams next year will not be held to the same standards as those sitting exams pre-pandemic.
The regulator said its ‘starting assumption’ was that attainment in 2022 will be lower than before the pandemic.
The document, a tender for focus groups, sets out various options for setting grading standards in 2022.
Experts are deciding how exams will be assessed without penalising anyone when they return
It says that if greater discrimination at the higher end is needed for selective universities, ‘a new top grade could be introduced for A-level’.
But it warns that creating a new top grade is ‘likely to cause anxiety and uncertainty’.
Another option would see the regulator ‘reduce the percentage of higher grades… each year, until they are back in line with the grade distribution in 2019’.
However, it adds: ‘One disadvantage of this approach is that, as successive cohorts are less affected by the pandemic… it would nevertheless become successively harder to obtain a top grade.’
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