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What is happening about external exams and assessments?

Information supplied by Ofqual on 3 April 2020 and a consultation document on 15 April provide further details on how A levels, EPQ and GCSEs will be assessed this year and issues still to be decided. Please refer to the following documents:

There will be separate advice about BTEC and other level 3 qualifications which we understand will follow a similar pattern to the A level centre assessment grades.

There are two sections on this page:

  1. Information for current students
  2. Information external / private candidates

Information for current students

The way grades will be assessed in 2020

The college will be submitting “centre assessment grades” (CAG) and a rank order within each grade for all exam entries where students are currently enrolled on a course for that entry. These will then be processed by the examination boards who will be using a series of measures to award a final grade. We are forbidden from sharing either the CAG or the rank order with candidates.

The college’s approach to centre assessment grades

The centre assessment grades submitted to exam boards will reflect a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the most likely grade each student would have achieved if they had sat their exams this summer and completed any non-exam assessment. We will aim to be as positive as we can with the objective evidence available to us.

Evidence that the college will use in arriving at the centre assessed grades

We will be using our holistic professional judgement, balancing the different sources of evidence available to us. This will include all key assessment data; partial or full completion of non-examined assessment (coursework); home work; class work and/or participation in performances in subjects such as music, drama and PE. All teachers and subject leaders will be considering each student’s performance over the course of study and they will make a realistic judgement of the grade each student would have been most likely to get, if they had taken their exam in that subject this summer.

The rank ordering process

In addition to submitting a centre assessment grade for each student, we will also be required to submit the rank order of each student at each grade in each subject area.  As a large A level centre, we are very familiar with this process. We rely on internal measures that are as objective and evidence-based as we can make them. For example, we moderate and standardise all our internal exams to arrive at consistent judgements across each subject. A similar process will be used to arrive at an evidence-based rank order for centre assessment grades this summer, using all the available information we have about each student. This will include all relevant, contextual information we have.

The use of mock grades

Lots of students don’t feel that they do themselves justice in mock exams for a variety of reasons. We will be taking a holistic look at all the evidence that we have available and weighing everything up to arrive at the grade each student would have been most likely to get if they had taken the exam in the summer and completed any non-exam assessment (coursework). The mock exam is just one piece of evidence that we will be taking into account.

Work that has been completed since the move to online delivery

We understand that producing work from home during this period has presented difficulties for many students. We have a wealth of information from which to draw before the move to online course delivery, so there is no need to be concerned that anyone will be disadvantaged by this.

Illness during the course

Where a student has been ill or had other difficulties during their course, it will likely mean that the evidence base we have for them is narrower than that which we have for the rest of the cohort. We will make a judgement about everyone on the evidence we have and come to a conclusion about the grade each student would have been most likely to get if they had taken the exam in the summer. This will include the knowledge that some individuals have been unwell for a portion of their course.

Non-examined assessment NEA (coursework or performance)

When course delivery went online, NEA was at different stages of completion across the relevant subjects. Whether finished or not, some subjects may use progress towards NEA as one part of the evidence base they use to arrive at the centre assessed grade.

Access arrangements

For students who have an exams access arrangement, the teacher assessed grade submitted will assume the level of performance to be achieved with that arrangement in place.

Special consideration

This is a process in place each to take account of students who might have suffered a traumatic event that would have affected their performance just on the day of the exam. This process will not be in operation this year as the centre assessment grades are based on how students would have performed under normal circumstances.  

When will A level results be available?

Ofqual has now confirmed that A Level students will get their results on the standard A level results day, which is Thursday 13 August. GCSE students will get theirs on 20 August. These dates are both as previously published. Normally, students come into college to collect their grades, but this will be under review as we don’t know what social distancing conditions will be in place at that point. We will keep candidates updated on our plans once we are able to release them.

Centre assessment grades and appeal

Ofqual has made it very clear that all centre assessed grades remain confidential between the organisation and the examination boards. It is part of the current Ofqual consultation as to what appeal processes will be available once grades are awarded to candidates in the summer. It is envisaged that students who are not satisfied with their grade will have a chance to sit an exam in the autumn although we are waiting for further information about this.

Retaking year 13

Every year students ask if they can return and retake the year to get better grades. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer that opportunity. You could, however, still apply to sit the A level examination at our centre in June 2021. This would be a good opportunity to use the intervening time to gain some useful employment, volunteering or work experience alongside studying independently for your retakes.

Students with private tutors

Some students employ private tutors to support their college work and would like their assessment to be taken into account. The simple answer is that any improvement from working with external tutors should already be evident to us in the grades students have been achieving. This is the same for students who have independently been working really hard – the improvement should already be there to see. If it is, we will be able to take it into account. We will be moderating and standardising our centre assessment grades based on the work that students have produced in their time with us up until we went online.  We will base this judgement on everything that we know about them. It will not be possible to consider evidence sent in by external tutors nor improvements that might have been made in the future as a result of additional support.

Information for external/private candidates

Centre assessment grades for private candidates

Ofqual has said they are doing further work on the issue of private / home-schooled candidates. We are awaiting their definitive guidance on this, but all the information we have so far suggests that, unless the College has a current relationship with a student in a given subject and college staff are already able to verify the grades at which they have working, then, regrettably, we will not be able to submit a centre assessment grade. In this case, candidates would instead need to take the option of sitting the autumn examination series, where possible. This also applies to current students who have entered for exams where we have not been providing direct tuition.

Ex-King Edward’s students

For students who left us in the summer of 2019 or earlier having taken A levels with us, it will not be possible to submit a centre assessment grade.  Whilst we will have known potential levels of performance during time spent at King Edward’s we have not had evidence of what students have been producing over this academic year and would be unable to verify work produced at this point to enable us to submit a centre assessment grade.

Autumn exam series

The only thing that we know about this is that there will be one this year. There is no information about when it will take place, who can enter or what subjects will be available. Once more information is available, we will post it here.

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