Schools should tell students their teacher-predicted GCSE and A-level grades, heads say

stack of papers being graded by a teacher

Students who miss out on university or college offers because of lowered grades could use teacher predictions to help with meeting entry requirements

Teachers should tell students the original calculated grades that were submitted for exam board standardisation – especially if lowered grades have caused students to miss out on university or college offers, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has advised.

This year, exams were cancelled and teachers were instead asked to give every student a calculated grade for each of their subjects, then rank all of their students within each grade band. Next, the schools had to submit all of these grades to the exam boards to standardise and check they were fair.

Towards the end of July, the exams regulator Ofqual reported that teachers had generally been generous in their grading, and the standardisation process had brought the averages back down again – although this year’s GCSE results are still set to be around 1% higher than last year’s, and A-level results around 2% higher than 2019.

Sharing the original teacher-submitted grades “would enable students who believe they have been disadvantaged by this year’s process, particularly those who believe this has implications for their progress to the next stage of education or employment, to find out information to which they are entitled,” the ASCL guidance said.

This could be particularly helpful for students whose grades may have been lowered by the standardisation process, causing them to miss out on university or college offers, the guidance continued.

“There may be cases this year where a student’s [teacher-submitted grade] would have guaranteed progression, but their final calculated grade makes this less certain,” the ASCL advice said.

“This may particularly be the case for students in schools and colleges whose results would have improved considerably this year compared to previous years. The grades identified by teachers as their best estimates for pupils in these schools are likely to be higher than the moderated grades.”

It might also be worth sharing these grades with the university or college, “as those institutions may be willing to offer a place to a student whose [teacher-submitted grade] meets their entry requirements, even if their calculated grade does not,” the ASCL added.

More like thisfive reasons to feel reassured about your calculated grades

student reading exam results and looking stressed

Fears over fairness of the standardisation process

This advice follows a backlash over Scottish students’ results on 4 August, where the Scottish exam boards’ standardisation knocked down grades for 15% of students from the country’s most deprived areas, compared to only 7% from the wealthiest.

Ofqual has not released the details of its standardisation model for England, but it will involve using data about how well students from each school have performed in past exams.

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Kate Green, wrote a letter to the education secretary Gavin Williamson about fears that students from poorer areas could be disadvantaged by the standardisation process.

“It’s imperative the government acts now to reassure worried students, teachers and parents,” Green wrote.

“Young people deserve to have their hard work assessed on merit, but the system risks baking in inequality and doing most harm to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, those from ethnic minority groups and those with special educational needs and disabilities.”

Ofqual has previously said that it has not found any evidence that this year’s calculated grades have widened the gap between disadvantaged students and their better-off peers.

students reading their exam results

How easy will it be to find out my teacher-calculated grade?

Teachers have been banned from telling students how they graded them before results day – 13 August for A-levels and 20 August for GCSEs.

They will be allowed to share that information after results day, but it will be up to the individual schools to decide how to do it.

This could mean telling all students their teacher-calculated grades, only telling students who request to know, or refusing to tell students the grades their teachers had assigned them unless they make a subject access request – a legal process that can take up to a month.

In its guidance, the ASCL suggested that it would be best to only tell students who request the information, preferably a few days after results day. It also advised against sharing where students were ranked, as this might accidentally reveal information about other students’ grades.

If you want to know the grades that your teachers originally submitted for you, you’ll need to discuss with your school to find out what kind of approach they are going to take.

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