UK does U-turn on board-level exam results after failed computer algorithm

Topics UK govt | Britain

The UK government on Monday did a U-turn and issued an apology over inconsistencies caused by computer algorithm-based A-Level exam results, the equivalent of Class 12 board exams in India, and allowed teacher-assessed grades to be counted instead.

There was growing uproar among teachers, students and parents after nearly 40 per cent of grades were downgraded from those predicted based on students' past performance, after examinations had to be cancelled earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

We now believe it is better to offer young people and parents certainty by moving to teacher assessed grades for both A and AS level and GCSE results, UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said in a statement, which confirms the same procedure for the equivalent of Class 10 level exam results, or GCSEs, expected later this week.

I am sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents but hope this announcement will now provide the certainty and reassurance they deserve, he said.

The A-Level results were released by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), a non-ministerial government department that regulates exams in England, last week.

It came with a triple lock guarantee, under which students could accept their algorithm-calculated grade, appeal to receive a valid mock result, or sit an exam in the autumn.

But ever since the results were out last Thursday, there had been a backlash against the process as many students received grades way below expectation, jeopardising their university admissions and future career plans.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for young people who were unable to take their exams. We worked with Ofqual to construct the fairest possible model, but it is clear that the process of allocating grades has resulted in more significant inconsistencies than can be resolved through an appeals process, admitted Williamson.

The reviewed policy announced by him brings England in line with the other parts of the UK Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with education being a devolved subject.

Under the new policy, teachers' estimates will be awarded to students unless the computer algorithm assessed a higher grade for them.

Reacting to the apology, Opposition Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government had been "forced into a screeching U-turn after days of confusion" and criticised Downing Street's handling of students' results as "a complete fiasco".

"This is a victory for the thousands of young people who have powerfully made their voices heard this past week," he said.

Many A-level students had taken to the streets to protest against grades they said were unfairly awarded.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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