Exams 2020

In the ASCL member newsletter of 11 August, we provided a briefing document to assist members during this challenging period. The information is also provided in the links and FAQs below. 
Results Days 2020
Members wishing to contact ASCL about aspects of the exam results this year should first check the list of FAQs below or use the links to resources provided by Ofqual, JCQ and others (links are provided in ’Useful references’ below). We will endeavour to keep the FAQs and other resources up to date as members raise issues with us.

Template letters
Template letter to accompany GCSE results, August 2020
Template letter to respond to parent complaints about CAGs, August 2020 

Exams inbox and ASCL hotline
If you the answer you need is not available via these resources, please email your query to exams@ascl.org.uk A team of ASCL specialists will be regularly monitoring this inbox.

For concerns about broader issues, please contact our hotline team as normal.

Useful references
Ofqual’s main guidance around the summer 2020
Ofqual helpline: 0300 303 3344
JCQ guidance
ASCL Results Day guidance
National Careers Service

Comparing awarded grades with other calculations
ASCL member and Executive Headteacher David Blow has kindly put together new advice to explain how grades were calculated using the Ofqual standardisation model, and compares the process with the ASCL process, as detailed on the Help and Advice page Centre-assessed grading 2020: Technical guidance.

This should be particularly helpful in interpreting the information sent through by exam boards. The new advice Comparing awarded grades with other calculations can be downloaded separately.

The guidance provided is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. They represent ASCL’s views, but you rely on them at your own risk. For specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances, please contact your employer’s HR service or legal advisers.

How can I tell my results are ‘correct’?
Awarding organisations (AOs) will provide tables showing how the standardisation model calculations compare with the CAGs submitted by the centre. Centres will therefore be able to see where and how the calculated grades differ from the CAGs. Ofqual has indicated that virtually all centres will see some changes across qualifications.

How does the standardisation model work?
A technical paper will be published by Ofqual on results day with worked examples. The key inputs to the model are national background data, centre history of performance in each subject, and the prior attainment of the cohort.

We tried hard to get our results to be accurate so why have they been changed?
The ASCL toolkit was the best available method for centres to be able to access national grades and centre-level data when they were producing their CAGs. Ofqual’s standardisation model uses a slightly different approach; for example, it concentrates on particular grades rather than overall value added. We would therefore expect there to be some differences.

Why were our A level results the same in some subjects, but GCSEs have been changed in almost all?
Ofqual has stated that a statistical approach would become unreliable for very small entries in a subject in a centre, or where background information is absent. Higher priority will be given to the CAGs in these cases. Most GCSEs have larger entries and will be moderated statistically.

How can I analyse and report on results?
Providers will offer their usual services to help analyse and report on grades, including the ASCL toolkit hosted by SMID.

I am coming under pressure from the media, parents and governors. What can I do?
ASCL Results Day guidance includes a section on managing the media.

A key message for governors and others is that the results do not reflect the performance of this year’s students but are based on how the centre has performed over recent years. They must not draw conclusions about current performance based on CAG results.

The emerging national picture at A level and GCSE is that moderated grades are likely to match the CAGs submitted by centres in around 50-60% of cases, with around 35-40% of entries moderated downwards by one grade. The greatest impact will understandably be around grade 4; it is likely that more than half of the grade 4 CAGs submitted by centres will be moderated downwards. Understanding this context will be helpful when centres are considering their own grades. There is also considerable national variation between schools and this will depend on the approach taken by the school in the first place.

Should I share results with LA/Trust?
ASCL has made it very clear that there must be no elements of accountability attached to CAGs at national level. The DfE has accepted this view; not doing so would have distorted the CAG process. Reinventing accountability at local level is to be avoided. We can see no reason why a local authority would need these results. The results do not reflect the performance of this year’s students or the school as they are based on the two or three previous years.

Performance tables/ASP
These will not be published for 2020. The situation in 2021 is not yet clear but it is likely that internal documents (ASP, IDSR) will be published in some form, suitably caveated and with modifications to some measures.

Year 10/12 CAG grades
These will not be included in any 2021 data.

How do I appeal?
The grounds for appeal are limited to technical matters, such as errors being made in data submitted by the centre, or in the process of awarding. Each AO will make clear how to appeal in these cases.

How does a student appeal?
An individual student cannot appeal against their grade if they are unhappy about it. Only the centre can appeal.

Can a student complain?
A student can make a complaint if they feel they have been unfairly treated. They should use the normal complaints process operated by the centre. They can complain to the awarding organisation if they believe the centre is not compliant, for example by not following its own processes.

Ofqual has produced a student guide, including more detail on the appeals and complaints process.

Offers from HE providers
HE providers are fully aware of the situation regarding A levels and other level 3 qualifications. It is likely that individual institutions will be more flexible over their offers.

Sharing CAGs with students
This issue is discussed in the ASCL results day guidance. There is a tension between subjects having access to data stored about them and difficulties with the CAG process, including risks associated with revealing rank orders.

Subject access requests
Ideally, centres will avoid formal subject access requests if they have a policy of revealing the CAG if requested. See the ASCL results day guidance.

“Everyone knows that our results this year were going to be better than 2018 and 2019. It's not fair on the students or teachers”
The whole situation is very difficult. What can be done at this stage is to communicate with further and higher education providers so they know that the students should have been getting higher grades and admission should be based on those reasonable expected grades.

Ofqual has written a guide for students explaining how the awarding process has worked this summer, and what they can do if they are unhappy about their grades.

Who can enter, by when?
The autumn series is intended for those students who did not or could not get the grade they needed via the CAG process.

JCQ has published the provisional calendar and entry dates. Decisions will need to be made quickly as entry dates are early in September.

How do I best advise students?
The Ofqual guidance for students has a helpful flowchart to guide students through their choices.

Do we have to offer qualifications if students ask?
The DfE has made it clear there is a general expectation that centres will arrange for qualifications to be available if candidates request them.
Centres may wish to liaise with other institutions regarding appropriate venues for the exams.

What is happening about fees?
The expectation is that rebates from awarding organisations for the summer series should be enough to cover fees for students entering in the autumn. We are in discussions with the DfE regarding additional funding if the recouped costs do not cover these additional expenses.

Related Pages

Centre-assessed Grading 2020: Technical guidance

  • Assessment
  • Accountability
  • Examinations
  • Key Stage 4
  • GCSE
  • Coronavirus

Ramadan: Exams and Tests, 2020

  • Inclusion
  • Assessment
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Safeguarding
  • Examinations
  • Diversity

ASCL Cymru: Coronavirus FAQs

  • Assessment
  • Cymru
  • Wales
  • Examinations
  • Coronavirus