Are Calculated Grades as Unfair as people say? Possible alternative methods.

Watch
blackugo
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 1 week ago
#1
Aside from teach bias and racism which I am all too familiar with do not get me wrong but I want to put that aside for now. I am also focusing more on A-Levels. Are Calculated Grades really that unfair and are the outline alternatives fairer?

1. And I can understand for GCSE the argument of "people would have revised more for the actual thing" because it was relatively easy to do so with less content and more subjects. But at A-level, we've had mocks to determine our predicted grades which were pretty important and most of us would have tried our best in to get good predicted grades there was a strong incentive to work hard for those. And it's not just the less abled students you would expect to improve everyone would, in theory, improve so not much about the rank order would change.

2. A lot of people complain about "bad days" etc. Well, this process would reward you for all your hard work across the year.

3. At University and in America the courses are often not linear and the work you do trough out the year counts so maybe students and schools should be changing their mindsets about working hard.

4. With the "whole trajectory of the school being ignored" they are looking at GCSE's so that should be a good flag for this is a much more abled group of students. The GCSE's were only 2 years ago for A-Level students I can understand that this doesn't really work for deciding GCSE grades.

I don't think the process is necessarily less fair I think it's just a different way of assessing students in which some people will be disadvantaged and others advantaged but you are still being rewarded on some "fair" basis.

Even with the traditional exam system, there is the fact that there are several exam boards and not everyone sits the same exam. Is that really all that fair? The grade boundaries can greatly vary between exam boards as well.

As long as the teachers when making the rank orders are basing it mostly off grades and the evidence they have not given the benefit of doubt to their potentially less able favourites.

I have also seen some alternative ways of calculating grades proposed. This is the full blog post but I have taken the key bits and put them down below. https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2020/07/23/hi...nderful-thing/

They are as follows:

1. ‘No grade inflation’

Ofqual explicitly declares ‘no grade inflation’ to be the overarching policy...The exam boards can therefore use whatever algorithm they wish to calculate how many grades each school is ‘allowed’ for each subject (which could well be what the current standardisation algorithm is actually doing anyway).

The boards then send a form to each school saying ‘For this year’s [23] candidates in [GCSE Geography], your school is allowed [so many] 9s, [this number of] 8s… Please enter the names of the candidates to be awarded each grade.’

Schools are not being asked for centre assessment grades or rank orders. All they have to do is put the right number of names in the right boxes, paying particular attention to which side of each grade boundary any name is placed.

A board might also allow a school to exceed a grade allocation, provided there is robust evidence. This puts ‘no grade inflation’ at risk, so it all depends on how much ‘wriggle room’ Ofqual might allow.

2. ‘Trust the teachers’

Ofqual sends every school a spreadsheet, or provides an online facility, to calculate grades based on history, and dealing with arithmetical details such as averaging, rounding, and year-on-year variability. Since all schools do the computations in exactly the same way, making exactly the same assumptions, the numerical playing field is truly level. The results of the spreadsheet can then be adjusted, as each school wishes, to recognise individuals and also contexts that do not conform to historical averaging...............The schools then submit their grades, which the boards check, going back to the schools for explanations of outliers. Since these have been pre-vetted, there are not that many, and those that are present are well-evidenced.

On aggregating the results, Ofqual expects and allows, some modest grade inflation. Adherence to an arbitrary statistical rule does not sacrifice fairness to each individual candidate.
Last edited by blackugo; 1 week ago
0
reply
NE1
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#2
Report 1 week ago
#2
Personally, I’m a lot calmer about calculated grades than what I was before Offqual’s summer symposium. My school shouldn’t be hit all that much by standardisation as my year group is a small cohort as only 40 of us stayed on for sixth form meaning some subjects had classes as small as 5 (I was in classes of between 10-15 as I chose subjects which have always been popular at our sixth form). Our historical data for results at A Level have always been high with many students getting A/A* grades and our law department has had students recieve some of the best grades in the country over the past few years, our GCSE results have always been high aswell which is why our sixth form’s entry requirements are 5 grade 5 GCSEs and our school marks our work/mocks 5% harsher than what exam boards would grade our answers incase the grade boundaries are to go up for that years exams. So, the fact our cohort is so small and we’ve got great historic data should hopefully mean that we don’t get hit as hard by standardisation. Furthermore, I can’t imagine our school over inflating predictions as they tell us how it is when it comes to grading. If we’re on track for a higher grade, we’ll be told and if we’re slacking, they’ll be blunt with us which is why I’m keeping my expectations low as I want to get ABC but I think I’ll be more likely to either get ACC, BBC, BCC or BCD (if we do get hit hard by standardisation). I was on track for a B in law, my sociology grade has always been a sliding scale of either C or D and I’ve always managed to get Bs in my RS work and even some As on assessments, homework and individual mock questions so I’m hoping that considering my school marks harsher that my teachers would’ve predicted me an A as there was only one person in my class who was doing better than me so I assume I would’ve been ranked in the top 2 or 3 at least.

I do hope there is no discrimination towards students with SEN though as I have a visual impairment which meant that in exams, I got double the time, rest breaks and my own room to sit my exams. I’ve been told on other threads that my teachers would’ve had to consider this but I am a little bit worried that even though I’ve shown how capable I am, I may still get penalised just because I’m a part of a disadvantaged group.
Last edited by NE1; 1 week ago
0
reply
blackugo
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#3
Report Thread starter 1 week ago
#3
(Original post by NE1)
Personally, I’m a lot calmer about calculated grades than what I was before Offqual’s summer symposium. My school shouldn’t be hit all that much by standardisation as my year group is a small cohort as only 40 of us stayed on for sixth form meaning some subjects had classes as small as 5 (I was in classes of between 10-15 as I chose subjects which have always been popular at our sixth form). Our historical data for results at A Level have always been high with many students getting A/A* grades and our law department has had students recieve some of the best grades in the country over the past few years, our GCSE results have always been high aswell which is why our sixth form’s entry requirements are 5 grade 5 GCSEs and our school marks our work/mocks 5% harsher than what exam boards would grade our answers incase the grade boundaries are to go up for that years exams. So, the fact our cohort is so small and we’ve got great historic data should hopefully mean that we don’t get hit as hard by standardisation. Furthermore, I can’t imagine our school over inflating predictions as they tell us how it is when it comes to grading. If we’re on track for a higher grade, we’ll be told and if we’re slacking, they’ll be blunt with us which is why I’m keeping my expectations low as I want to get ABC but I think I’ll be more likely to either get ACC, BBC, BCC or BCD (if we do get hit hard by standardisation). I was on track for a B in law, my sociology grade has always been a sliding scale of either C or D and I’ve always managed to get Bs in my RS work and even some As on assessments, homework and individual mock questions so I’m hoping that considering my school marks harsher that my teachers would’ve predicted me an A as there was only one person in my class who was doing better than me so I assume I would’ve been ranked in the top 2 or 3 at least.

I do hope there is no discrimination towards students with SEN though as I have a visual impairment which meant that in exams, I got double the time, rest breaks and my own room to sit my exams. I’ve been told on other threads that my teachers would’ve had to consider this but I am a little bit worried that even though I’ve shown how capable I am, I may still get penalised just because I’m a part of a disadvantaged group.
I am also part of a disadvantaged group and previously my teachers have given me bad predictions. For GCSE some of my predictions were actually up to 3 grades lower which is why I think it really falls apart for GCSE because there's just not enough data or serious mocks.

I feel like because you have stayed at your sixth form your teachers will have a good gauge of your ability and the school will have a good gauge of which teachers tend to underpredict disadvantaged students. I think schools should actively look at this data and look for patterns which would make it easy to identify. Even on a personal level if a student is constantly over performing or out doing their expectations this should be flagged clearly. My tutor was aware that I "overperformed" in my GCSE or I was perhaps underestimated and I think my head of 6th form looked at that when it came time to overseeing predicted grades. Perhaps getting rid of the year 9 SATs exams was not the best idea in hindsight. Less data to work with and students less accustomed to exams.

One of my subjects only had 3/4 students as well so I'm not sure how they will work that out. Looks like they will just have to trust the grades. And I was a private candidate for this subject but I think I was included in the class making it 4. Previous classes years had like 10-20 people. I feel like the teachers can give whatever grades they feel like in those circumstances.
0
reply
NE1
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#4
Report 1 week ago
#4
(Original post by blackugo)
I am also part of a disadvantaged group and previously my teachers have given me bad predictions. For GCSE some of my predictions were actually up to 3 grades lower which is why I think it really falls apart for GCSE because there's just not enough data or serious mocks.

I feel like because you have stayed at your sixth form your teachers will have a good gauge of your ability and the school will have a good gauge of which teachers tend to underpredict disadvantaged students. I think schools should actively look at this data and look for patterns which would make it easy to identify. Even on a personal level if a student is constantly over performing or out doing their expectations this should be flagged clearly. My tutor was aware that I "overperformed" in my GCSE or I was perhaps underestimated and I think my head of 6th form looked at that when it came time to overseeing predicted grades. Perhaps getting rid of the year 9 SATs exams was not the best idea in hindsight. Less data to work with and students less accustomed to exams.

One of my subjects only had 3/4 students as well so I'm not sure how they will work that out. Looks like they will just have to trust the grades. And I was a private candidate for this subject but I think I was included in the class making it 4. Previous classes years had like 10-20 people. I feel like the teachers can give whatever grades they feel like in those circumstances.
In regards to teachers under predicting, I feel I’ve been very lucky with my 6th form teachers as my RS teachers have known me since year 9 and I got a 7 in GCSE RS and they know I can write A grade answers (they taught us some degree level terminology and topics to add to our essays which I always tried to include whenever possible so hoping my work in class pushes me to an A). My law teacher is a genuine guy aswell and I’ve stayed mostly consistent with the grades I’ve achieved with him, I’d get Cs overall in my mocks but he said that if I had be sat the exams and did the same as I did in my mocks but improve my paper 3 score, I could’ve got a B and my sociology teachers knew my potential also (one was a lot harsher when grading me but overall in mocks I’d come out with a C or high D depending on which of our teachers’ papers carried the most weight) so I think I can almost say for sure I’ll get a C.

In each of those subjects, there were about 10-12 of us so I’m hoping that when exam boards looked at our 6th form, they use our centre assessed grades more. As I previously said, our historic data is amazing especially for law and our cohort’s GCSE grades were really good aswell considering we were the first year through the new system. The main thing I’m worried about in terms of the calculated grading is if there was a box that TMNT teachers would’ve had to tick saying something along the lines of “does this student have special educational needs” because if that’s the case, I don’t know if they’ll knock my grades down even if my teachers have put me high enough in the rank order and shown evidence that I’m capable of achieving ABC had the exams taken place.

Honestly, all I want is for them to give me at least CCC (the grades I need for my firm) but I think I’ll easily exceed that so I’m hoping for either ABC (if I somehow get lucky), BBC, BCC or BCD (worst case scenario)
1
reply
blackugo
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#5
Report Thread starter 1 week ago
#5
(Original post by NE1)
In regards to teachers under predicting, I feel I’ve been very lucky with my 6th form teachers as my RS teachers have known me since year 9 and I got a 7 in GCSE RS and they know I can write A grade answers (they taught us some degree level terminology and topics to add to our essays which I always tried to include whenever possible so hoping my work in class pushes me to an A). My law teacher is a genuine guy aswell and I’ve stayed mostly consistent with the grades I’ve achieved with him, I’d get Cs overall in my mocks but he said that if I had be sat the exams and did the same as I did in my mocks but improve my paper 3 score, I could’ve got a B and my sociology teachers knew my potential also (one was a lot harsher when grading me but overall in mocks I’d come out with a C or high D depending on which of our teachers’ papers carried the most weight) so I think I can almost say for sure I’ll get a C.

In each of those subjects, there were about 10-12 of us so I’m hoping that when exam boards looked at our 6th form, they use our centre assessed grades more. As I previously said, our historic data is amazing especially for law and our cohort’s GCSE grades were really good aswell considering we were the first year through the new system. The main thing I’m worried about in terms of the calculated grading is if there was a box that TMNT teachers would’ve had to tick saying something along the lines of “does this student have special educational needs” because if that’s the case, I don’t know if they’ll knock my grades down even if my teachers have put me high enough in the rank order and shown evidence that I’m capable of achieving ABC had the exams taken place.

Honestly, all I want is for them to give me at least CCC (the grades I need for my firm) but I think I’ll easily exceed that so I’m hoping for either ABC (if I somehow get lucky), BBC, BCC or BCD (worst case scenario)
That's good then. I have been thinking similarly lol. Best case scenario A*A*AA absolute worst-case A*AAB. Or at least that's what I think my teachers will put, But they could be brought down through standardisation.
0
reply
nexttime
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#6
Report 6 days ago
#6
(Original post by blackugo)

1. ‘No grade inflation’

Ofqual explicitly declares ‘no grade inflation’ to be the overarching policy...The exam boards can therefore use whatever algorithm they wish to calculate how many grades each school is ‘allowed’ for each subject (which could well be what the current standardisation algorithm is actually doing anyway).

The boards then send a form to each school saying ‘For this year’s [23] candidates in [GCSE Geography], your school is allowed [so many] 9s, [this number of] 8s… Please enter the names of the candidates to be awarded each grade.’

Schools are not being asked for centre assessment grades or rank orders. All they have to do is put the right number of names in the right boxes, paying particular attention to which side of each grade boundary any name is placed.

A board might also allow a school to exceed a grade allocation, provided there is robust evidence. This puts ‘no grade inflation’ at risk, so it all depends on how much ‘wriggle room’ Ofqual might allow.
I think you need both a rigid system that teachers cannot inflate, and something with enough freedom so that individual efforts can be counted.

But another major factor is that OfQual is not an exam board. It does not have the staff to individually police 10,000, 100,000 'appeals' or 'exceptions'. It likely barely has the staff to provide the data that will be needed. Whatever system you create must be manageable in terms of data, and allow appeal but not for literally every little thing. Otherwise they will be overwhelmed and unable to offer grades this summer.

For me, this is a system like the above, except it is not subject specific. This is A-level - if you look at individual subjects you will be very regularly looking at <10 candidates, and less frequently looking at <5 candidates. Previous attainment may not reflect this tiny cohort at all. But taken over a whole school - well now you've got the sample size to iron out statistical variation. This could be based on average attainment last 3 years, adjusted for cohort GCSEs. In terms of the school deciding what grade each subject is allowed to award - that is up to them. You could release guidelines saying you suggest its based on historical grades and attained GCSEs like it is for the whole school, but the final decision is down to teachers.

So that is strict, appeal would be made by headteachers only and must be based on hard evidence so I couldn't see that being too many, but it allows teachers to negotiate internally and award the grades they see as fairest. Obviously there will still be conflict, but that's the best system I can see.
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

What are you most likely to do if you don't get the grades you were expecting?

Go through Clearing (174)
38.07%
Take autumn exams (143)
31.29%
Look for a job (16)
3.5%
Consider an apprenticeship (21)
4.6%
Take a year out (76)
16.63%
Something else (let us know in the thread!) (27)
5.91%

Watched Threads

View All
Latest
My Feed