EPI proposals for awarding grades in summer 2021

This report from UK think tank EPI proposes five major changes to the government’s proposals for exam grades this year.

The Education Policy Institute has published its response to the Department for Education and Ofqual consultation on awarding GCSE and A level grades in summer 2021. The consultation follows the announcement earlier this month from the government that exams will not go ahead as usual this year, and grades will be based on teacher assessment. EPI concludes that while the government is proposing the “least bad” option for grading students without the usual public examinations, there are still significant risks associated with its approach. The three principal risks that EPI has identified are: A risk that real student learning losses in 2020/21 will be masked by the process of “centre assessed” (teacher) grading, leading students to progress into further study or work without the skills and knowledge they need. A risk of inconsistency and unfairness of grading between different schools and colleges, and between students A risk of further, significant, grade inflation in 2021, which might undermine the credibility of grading.

To mitigate these risks, EPI proposes five major changes to the government’s proposals 1.The distribution of pupils’ exam grades within schools in 2019 should be used as the anchor point when schools apply teacher assessed grades in 2021. 2. Students in all schools and colleges should take a short, standardised assessment in the May/June period in most subjects 3. Far clearer advice is needed for schools and colleges to inform grade setting this year, and to take Covid learning loss fairly and consistently into account. 4. There is a strong case for final grades to be released in August, rather than earlier, in July, to allow enough time to quality assure them. 5. The government must move quickly to address the huge problem of pupils’ underlying learning loss

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