Alps message to schools and colleges
We are writing this to you, to say that we are with you during these extraordinarily challenging times.
Although the Alps Office is closed and our staff are working remotely, our Educational team and Customer Support team are available to be contacted by phone or email if you would like our advice or support.
Throughout the UK all exams in May and June have been cancelled. There will be no Performance Tables for this academic year. We welcome these decisions in the current circumstances, but recognise that the former creates a challenge for you and your teachers.
On 20th March, how examination grades will be awarded in 2020 was clarified.
Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to be awarded to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible. Ofqual will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. Their aim is to provide these calculated grades to schools, colleges and students before the end of July.
A Levels and GCSEs
As things stand, the exam boards will be asking teachers to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.
These teacher assessed grades should be based on the overall qualification grade each learner is likely to achieve at the end of their course of study in each subject, based on their performance on a range of assessments, including performance in mock exams and non-exam assessments, and on their overall commitment to their studies and ability in each subject. Clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to schools and colleges.
However, these teacher-awarded grades will be moderated in two ways:
1. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student.
2. Ofqual will aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that in other years, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances.
There will be an appeals process and an option to sit an exam as early as possible in the next academic year for students who wish to.
Advice from Alps – Teacher-assessed grades
1. Assume that the moderation processes outlined above are likely to lead to lower finally awarded grades than submitted teacher-assessed grades.
2. When teachers are assessing grades, give them clear guidance about the range of assessments in your school or college that they must consider. In Wales and Northern Ireland, and in the minority of English schools that still use AS exams, the AS results ought to be taken into account.
3. If possible, set up remote departmental / faculty moderation.
4. Consider grades from a student perspective, for example at GCSE in English and Mathematics when deciding to submit grades 3 and 4. Gavin Williamson has said ‘My priority now is to ensure no young person faces a barrier when it comes to moving onto the next stage of their lives – whether that’s further or higher education, an apprenticeship or a job’.
5. If you have a sixth form, consider the grades students require to study Level 3 qualifications in your setting and whether it would have been most likely that a student would have achieved these.
6. If you have a sixth form, consider UCAS offers and whether it was most likely that a student would have achieved these.
7. If you have Connect Interactive, you can also use the Monitoring Accuracy tools to see how accurately subjects and teachers predicted final grades in 2019, when they were most accurate and to what extent individual student ‘predictions’ have varied during 2019-20.
8. If you have Connect Interactive, upload gradepoints so that you are able to analyse value-added progress by school / college, by subject, by student group and student. Crucially, when you receive the awarded grades ‘before the end of July’ you will then easily be able to assess the impact of the external moderation processes overall, by subject etc.
9. Alps value-added analysis will demonstrate grade discrepancies, accuracy evidence and trends through time and will be useful evidence if you need to appeal against finally awarded grades.
Applied General / Vocational qualifications
There are a very wide range of different vocational and technical qualifications in which students were expecting to sit exams this summer.
In many cases, students have completed examination modules and non-exam assessment units which can provide evidence to award an overall grade.
Ofqual is working urgently with the sector to explore options encouraging awarding bodies to show the maximum possible flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged.
Advice from Alps – Teacher-assessed grades
1. Our advice is that teachers should use all the evidence they have to create most likely overall grades for each student that can be compared with the finally awarded grades.
2. If you have Connect Interactive, this gradepoint should also be uploaded so that you are able to analyse value-added progress by school / college, by subject, by student group and student based on teacher-calculated grades.
As there will be no Performance Tables based on 2020 outcomes, we want to assure you that we will work with you to ensure that you are able to set young people aspirational minimum expected grades and assess value-added progress against national data to enable further school or college improvement in the years ahead. Alps will enable schools and colleges to continue their quality assurance cycle uninterrupted, despite the lack of Performance Tables / Government data.