New top marks could be brought in for A-Levels and GCSEs to tackle lockdown grade inflation, minister hints
NEW top marks could be introduced for A-Levels and GCSEs to tackle rampant grade inflation during lockdown, a minister hinted today.
Education chiefs are looking at the radical reform after the number of kids getting the highest marks spiralled under teacher assessment.
There are fears the huge growth in the number of top grades risks devaluing qualifications in the eyes of universities and employers.
Leaked plans have separately emerged for an A** category at A-level and a new top mark of 10 at GCSE to uphold standards.
Schools minister Nick Gibb was asked about leaked plans today.
He said: "There will be no change to the grading system for 2022, but we are looking at the longer term issue about grading in GCSE and A-Levels."
Exams watchdog Ofqual is set to carry out research into attitudes amongst students, parents, and teachers about possible changes to A-levels.
It is currently advertising for firms to do the work, according to the Times Educational Supplement.
In its contract tender it admits the move could cause “anxiety and uncertainty” for some pupils.
But it says "a new top grade" would help universities distinguish between candidates.
Ministers are also said to be considering plans to completely revamp A-levels by moving to a numbers-based grading system.
That would bring them into line with GCSEs which moved from letters to numbers in 2019.
Ministers have vowed to tackle grade inflation and hope a return to formal exams next year will help bring it under control.
We are looking at the longer term issue about grading in GCSE and A-Levels
A quarter of A-level grades were at A* and A when they were last sat in 2019.
Under teacher assessment that proportion almost doubled to 45% this year.
Inflation has been less pronounced in GCSEs but record results this year still saw a third of entries awarded top marks.
Under the lockdown system teachers graded their students based on coursework and their performance in class.
Ofqual then stepped in and carried out spot-checks on some results.
Mr Gibb said ministers are determined to press ahead with reintroducing exams this year as the "fairest" way of assessing kids.
He said the Government is working up "contingency" plans for how pupils will be marked if that proves impossible.
Exams are only likely to be scrapped again if Britain has to go back into lockdown over the winter.
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