Deliberate downgrading of A level results 2017

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sallywilliams
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Deliberate downgrading of A level results 2017

Postby sallywilliams » Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:14 pm

Has anyone else's child/school received unexpectedly low A level results? We have discovered that some boards have deliberately downgraded A level results. At our school in Wandsworth, all the history coursework had 6 marks taken off because there were too many A*s. At another school in Wandsworth, 11 marks were taken off coursework for the same reason. Clearly this has affected the overall grade. These cannot be appealed unless the entire cohort of entrants agree to it. However, schools and colleges can ask the exam boards to review whether there were any errors in the exam board’s moderation of a teacher-marked assessment and whether there was any rational basis for the moderation. Presumably the more schools that do this, the greater the weight on the government to order an enquiry.

Please share this information with parents and schools whose children may have suffered a downgrade of A levels and lost coveted places at universities. The more schools and colleges that put pressure on the Government, exam boards and Ofqual the better, so that we can have a re-instatement of the original gradings for coursework and grade boundaries.
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FabLondon
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Re: Deliberate downgrading of A level results 2017

Postby FabLondon » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:42 pm

Hi Sally,
Thank you for your post. We thought our daughter was an isolated case! She is a very good student and usually gets A* or A in history. She got a B at her coursework and realised that all the other good students in history got a B, students that usuallly get A ans A*. On top of this 2 of her history essays were marked A* but the one on Russia got a C although it's the topic she knows the best ans for which she is sure to has written a really good essay. We have asked for a remark that as remained unchanged and for a copy of it. Unfortunately this means that she got an overall B in history instead of an A which compromises her place at Cambridge.
Is there anyone else for who this is the case so we can all start an action?
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Historytutor
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Re: Deliberate downgrading of A level results 2017

Postby Historytutor » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:14 am

I don't think it's deliberately targeting your child's school. When the moderators look at the marks from centres, they look for discrepancies; this will include schools where marks are too high, as well as schools where the marks are too low. It could be that the teachers were being too generous, so they've been corrected appropriately. (I say this as a former teacher, a current examiner, and a private History tutor.)
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sallywilliams
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Re: Deliberate downgrading of A level results 2017

Postby sallywilliams » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:27 am

But why deduct 6 marks across everybody's coursework, regardless of content? I understand an individual downgrading if marks were felt to be too high, but it seems as if the students have been penalised across the board.
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Historytutor
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Re: Deliberate downgrading of A level results 2017

Postby Historytutor » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:52 am

Probably because the moderators found that the coursework they examined was consistently, on average, 6 marks too high. So if the sample was marked too generously, then the rest would or could have been as well. So, a six mark deduction across the board.
I'm not sure how the different exam boards work, but it's often something like if there are 10-20 candidates, then 5 candidates' work are sampled. If it's between 20-35, then 7 candidates are selected at random.
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sloaney donkey
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Re: Deliberate downgrading of A level results 2017

Postby sloaney donkey » Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:53 am

The exam boards try to make marking as mechanical as possible. But there is always some subjectivity, even for maths. There are marks for SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) and other bits and pieces across the spectrum. Does an examiner miss one typo and you get 5/5, or do they mistake a letter and give you 4? Where schools systematically under- or over- mark makes a difference, and that is controlled for.

Someone once told me that you need an element of luck in key milestones in life. A shared hometown with your interviewer, a grand prix driver who gets a better nut, or bumping into someone in a nightclub who you find as the best spouse ever etc. But what I can say is that as somebody who has marked these papers, all luck on exam papers is diluted down to as low as it could ever be. In anything. Sample checks on samples, checking marking of coursework against actual results etc. Taking all detail about a students name, sex, location out of papers etc.

The reality is that the results seen do have some volatility year-on-year and student on student. Some schools are better than others. Some years are better than others within a given school. It is perhaps testament to the quality control of the examiner that the luck is more about the cohort within a given exam than the markers of the papers.

Take the longer view. If you are an A student in a given subject, you will on average get As across GCSEs, AS levels, A levels and a 2:1 degree in that subject. If you are marginally into the A band, maybe you get a mix of A and B grades, with a bias to A. Perhaps your daughter was lucky to get into Cheltenham but unlucky to get into Cambridge. But these kinds of risks are as low as they can ever be.

One piece of advice for any student:- don't be a 'smart Alec' and write at the end of the paper "wishing you a good summer (hope this doesn't mess it up too much)" or "thanks for marking this paper". These comments will attract negative prejudice from just about any third party who looks at them, and makes a borderline mark go one way or another.

Best of luck to all A level and GCSE students in their lives !

:D
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