Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Students Who Were Not Overmarked Have Suffered, Admits Ofqual: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Students Who Were Not Overmarked Have Suffered, Admits Ofqual: News

Article excerpt

Pupils unfairly penalised in GCSE grading fiasco cannot be identified.

Pupils whose GCSE English coursework was accurately assessed have been unfairly penalised by the "overmarking" alleged to be at the heart of this year's grading fiasco, according to Ofqual's chief regulator.

Glenys Stacey made the comments as three out of the four exam boards involved in the controversy contradicted the watchdog's final report on the crisis, revealing that overmarking was not a reason for them raising grade boundaries between January and June.

It also emerged this week that a legal challenge against the grading by an alliance of schools, pupils and councils would be heard by the High Court in the near future.

Speaking to TES, Ms Stacey conceded that pupils whose English controlled assessment was accurately marked by teachers this summer may have been awarded lower grades than they deserved because of overmarking in other schools. In her report, published last week, she said overmarking was the reason grade boundaries had been toughened up.

"Are there students (who) really suffered because of overmarking - if you like - in other schools?" she said. "One can assume that there are and that is the distressing thing."

Earlier this year Ms Stacey angered schools by stating that pupils whose work was marked in January - before grade boundaries were shifted - had been the beneficiaries of "generous" marking and had got a "lucky break". She has not previously suggested that there were any problems with June's grade boundaries.

But she said it was not possible to identify pupils who had been unfairly penalised. "We have looked at what we could do to somehow recompense for that and there isn't an easy way," she said. "And that is a sober reflection for everybody, isn't it? It is a cautionary tale, this one. There isn't any way."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Having concluded that pupils have been treated unfairly we now need to know what remedy has been made. It is completely unacceptable for this situation not to be put right."

Ofqual took the affair in a new direction last Friday when its report asserted that a poorly designed qualification and overgenerous marking by teachers were at the heart of the grading crisis. The watchdog said that "examiners saw overmarking" in June and had to move grade boundaries to compensate for that, although this week it admitted that it had not looked at any of the marked papers. …

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