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Our report calls for better examinations marking system

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Ofqual report calls for better examinations marking system

The exams regulator in England says it will expect more from exam boards who oversee the marking of key qualifications. It also plans to overhaul the appeals system.

Ofqual has today (Friday 14th February), published an in-depth review into the quality of marking. The report makes several clear recommendations, which will improve the quality of marking for GCSEs, A levels and other academic qualifications.

The report shines the light on what it says is a complex and highly professional system, supported by expert examiners and improving technologies. However, it also highlights a number of areas where improvement is needed.

Exam boards will be asked to provide more data on the quality of their marking and to improve aspects of both onscreen and traditional marking. They will also be expected to contribute to an Ofqual led programme to develop understanding about what makes a good mark scheme, for candidates of all levels.

Chief Regulator Glenys Stacey said: “Our report has found that the overall quality of marking is good. There is much to have confidence in, but there is no doubt that it could be better still.

“In a system of this scale mistakes do, and will, occur. Although genuine mistakes are few and far between, they undermine confidence in the system. Exam boards will be expected to work with us to deliver our recommendations and to increase transparency, particularly in relation to their own marking errors.

“The appeals system has been under increasing pressure, particularly from accountability measures and overly complex processes. To make our appeals system fit for the future we need to overhaul it. We want a new system that is more transparent, fair and sufficiently robust to differentiate between reasonable variations in marks and genuine marking errors.

“I hope that teachers will increase their knowledge and understanding of the system, and in turn their confidence, with schools and colleges supporting them to do that.”

The recommendations made in the report include:

  • Better monitoring and quantifying of the quality of marking of general qualifications
  • Better data capture and feedback mechanisms to help continuous improvement
  • Review the appeals system
  • Improving mark scheme design
  • Improving on-screen and traditional marking processes
  • Better teacher understanding of and engagement with the exam system

Further information on the new appeals system will be released later this year, with the aim of having it in place for summer 2015.

Review of Quality of Marking in Exams in A Levels, GCSEs and Other Academic Qualifications – Final Report

Supporting Documents

Review of Quality of Marking in Exams in A Levels, GCSEs and Other Academic Qualifications – Findings from Survey of Examiners, May 2013

Ofqual Quality of Marking – Qualitative Research Study

Quality of Marking in General Qualifications – Survey of Teachers 2013

Quality of Marking – Review of Literature on Item-level Marking Research

Standardisation Methods, Mark Schemes, and Their Impact on Marking Reliability

Review of Double Marking Research

Review of Marking Internationally

Quality of Marking – Description of the Marking Process Used in External Exams in General Qualifications.

Quality of Marking – Survey of Examiners – Data Tables

Our letter to HMC

We’ve talked a great deal with HMC about the report and wrote to them explaining our findings and recommendations. You can find that letter here.

Our letter to HMC about Quality of marking