How reliable are exam grades?


In November 2018 Ofqual, the examination regulator for England, published data about the reliability of grades for GCSE, AS and A Level.

Ofqual define the definitive grade as that which is awarded by a senior examiner.

An uncontested inference drawn from Ofqual’s data is that, on average, across all subjects and across GCSE, AS and A level, about 1 grade in every 4, as awarded each August, would be changed if that same script were to be re-marked by a senior examiner. For a detailed explanation, click here. 

In other words, about 1 grade in every 4 is not definitive or "wrong" in more common language.

 

This survey is seeking views of teachers and others in schools across England about their awareness and understanding of this issue. Your responses are anonymous and respondents' ISP will not be collected.

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* To what extent do you consider this level of reliability to be acceptable.

Not at all I'm neutral Entirely
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* A consequence is that an individual's GCSE certificate with 8 grades is likely to have 2 that are not definitive or "wrong". This might mean one grade will be too high and the other too low so cancelling each other out. Equally, it might mean both are too high or both too low. Some say that the reliability across all results in the system evens out so that, overall, "it doesn't matter".

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* In the case of English GCSE, for example, the reliability of the grade can be as low as 50-60%.

Most users of grades (schools, colleges, employers, universities, apprentice providers) consider grades to be definitive and use them to make high-stakes decisions about progresssion through education & training and into employment.

How comfortable are you about the lack of public understanding of the indefinite and ureliable nature of grades?

Entirely comfortable Really uncomfortable
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i We adjusted the number you entered based on the slider’s scale.

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* Would you support the commissioning of an independent study to identify and evaluate other possible ways of certifying a student’s examination performance which are more reliable than the currently-awarded grades?

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* Do you have any other comments about this issue?

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* What role do you hold?

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* What type of institution do you work in?

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