Preparing to analyse your 2020 ‘calculated’ examination results

13th August 2020

2020 will have a very different feel in terms of exam analysis. With accountability measures and performance tables cancelled, evaluation can focus exclusively on identifying strategic improvement priorities. When the late-great Dr Kevin Conway designed the value-added systems known as Alps at Greenhead College, he was solely focused on raising student achievement and evaluating progress across the various subject teams and faculties fairly. That is still at the heart of Alps and is why now, more than ever, Alps is ideally suited for analysing your calculated examination results in 2020.

Of course, there is often a twist and the very fact that these results were not produced by students sitting examination papers provides that twist in 2020. Teachers did their best to provide each student with a ‘most likely’ grade in each subject and a fair rank order within each ‘centre-assessed’ grade. By 12th June, these grades were submitted to the examination boards and on 21st July Ofqual released information about the national impact of standardisation. Ofqual’s findings were based on their initial estimate of trends with the grading process in its final stages. Obviously, individual schools and colleges and, most importantly, their students had to wait for Results Days on the 13th and 20th August for the outcomes of standardisation on their centres.

What has Ofqual revealed about the national impact of standardisation on centre-assessed grades? 

  • GCSE and A-level results in England will be higher this summer. A level grades will be up by 2 per cent on last year and GCSEs by 1 per cent. 
  • Most schools and colleges submitted optimistic centre-assessed grades. Based on these: 
    • At A Level, 13.8% would achieve A* compared to 7.8% in 2019.
    • For GCSE, results would have jumped upwards by 9 percentage points, based on teachers’ predictions.
    • At GCSE, 31.6% would achieve grade 7 or above compared with 24.7% in 2019
    • At GCSE, 82.4% would achieve grade 4 or above compared with 72.7% in 2019. 
  • Based on centre-assessed grades, A level results would be up by 12 percentage points on 2019 and GCSE results by 9 points. Ofqual said that “Improvement on such a scale in a single year has never occurred and to allow it would significantly undermine the value of these grades for students”. 
  • There is no evidence of any widening ethnicity, gender or deprivation gaps in this summer’s results compared with previous years. 


How have centre-assessed grades been standardised? 

Exam boards used a statistical model to standardise grades across centres in each subject. This model combines a range of evidence including: 

  • expected grade distributions at national level
  • results in previous years at individual centre level
  • the prior attainment profile of students at centre level 

On 15 May, Cath Jadhav’s Ofqual blog made it clear that ‘standardisation will operate at subject level, not at centre level’.

On 22 May, Ofqual stated that ‘the standardisation process will place more weight on a centre’s historical performance in a subject than the submitted centre assessment grades where that will result in students getting the grades that they would most likely have achieved had they been able to complete their assessments in summer 2020’.

If a centre’s centre-assessed grades in a subject were judged to be more generous than expected, some, or all, of the grades will have been adjusted before being issued.

At AS and A Level (AS) standardisation considered historical data from 2017, 2018 and 2019. At GCSE standardisation considered historical data from 2018 and 2019, except where there was only a single previous year of data for some 9-1 reformed specifications

On 8 August, The Guardian reported that ‘analysis of the algorithm and data used by the exam regulator Ofqual to distribute grades after the cancellation of exams amid the coronavirus pandemic found that a net 39% of assessments of A-level grades by teachers are likely to be adjusted down before students receive their results. That would mean nearly 300,000 A-levels issued are lower than the teacher assessment of the more than 730,000 A-level entries in England this summer.’ By the morning of 13 August some schools & colleges were reporting over 50% of results downgraded and between 10-20% by two grades.

Our conclusion 

The chances of your calculated results being identical to your centre-assessed grades across all subjects and all qualifications seem minuscule to us.

A far from level playing field across the UK

After protests broke out in Scotland after results were released there on 4 August. By 11 August, all standardised results that were downgraded would be withdrawn and the initial teacher-based estimates would be awarded instead.

On 12 August students in Wales were told that any results published on 13 August that were lower than the AS result achieved in the same subject in 2019 would be upgraded to match the AS result.

As things stand, students in England must either accept their awarded results, ask the school to appeal to use their mock results (which will most probably be lower) or decide to sit the full A Level in October despite having no lessons since March and having now ‘left school or college’.


Using Alps Connect Interactive to analyse your calculated results effectively 

1. Ensure each set of centre-assessed grades (e.g. KS4 or Post-16) have been uploaded into Connect Interactive as a monitoring grade-point.

2. Once you have similarly uploaded your calculated results you will be firing on all cylinders to get cracking on two different evaluations:

  • Comparing your awarded ‘calculated’ results with your centre-assessed judgement grades
  • Comparing your awarded ‘calculated’ results with your historic results

3. You will be easily able to analyse the progress of:

  • Your whole cohort  
  • Each subject 
  • Each teaching set 
  • Student groups 
  • Individual students 
  • Tutor Groups 


4. We are recording webinars which will be available from the Results Days’ weeks to demonstrate how to use the tools and features in Connect Interactive most effectively. There will be separate webinars demonstrating best practice Post-16 and at KS4. You will be able to watch these on our Training Hub here 

5. If you would prefer to book a video conference Strategic Review Meeting in which an Alps Educational Consultant will use Connect Interactive in the meeting to analyse your 2020 calculated results with you and discuss strategies going forwards please contact our Operations Team on 01484 887600 or via [email protected]

You can also book places on all Alps’ live webinars here, with more sessions to be added over the course of the autumn term.

If you require further information, please contact our Educational Team on 01484 887600 or via [email protected]. 

Need more information?

If you would like any further information, please contact one of our expert advisers.

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