Results for summer exams have started coming in worldwide. While some countries have seen an improvement of overall result scores, other countries face lower-than-expected grades.

Today England announced a near 40% downgrade of the teacher submitted grades to Ofqual. The results caused global frustration and anger among the majority of principals, politicians, parents and students.

“Something has obviously gone horribly wrong with this year’s exam results. Nearly 40% of young people have had their grades marked down and that’s thousands of young people whose opportunities could have been dashed,” Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said.

Anger over new algorithm in England

Controversy has surrounded how fair the announced grades decided in England are. England’s exams were cancelled due to pandemic and a new moderation process algorithm was introduced a few days ago.

Late moderation changes, introduced to the results system on 11 August, included relying on pupil’s mock exam results and past school performance, alongside teacher’s grade prediction. 

The changes in algorithm resulted in thousands of pupils’ results being downgraded. The proportion of downgrade effected nearly two in five pupils’ grades. According to England’s exam regulator Ofqual, 36% of entries in England had a lower grade than teachers predicted, and 3% were down two grades after moderation.

A drop in grades in other countries

Other countries like England that chose to cancel exams and rely on either the last semester or annual grades, also reported worse results and students’ distress.

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Hong Kong has announced that the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams dropped by nearly one-third, compared to last year’s grades. The grades were based on schoolwork rather than written tests.

Scotland also reported an outcry due to the estimated 125,000 lower grades than expected – which is a quarter of the total. However, the government soon reacted and upgraded results back to the previous teacher estimates. 

Pandemic influenced grades in Europe

Countries that did not cancel exams and sat them despite the pandemic reported controversial results. Some saw improvement while others experienced home-schooling consequences.

Latvia announced a slight improvement to the average exam scores in comparison to the last year 12th-grade exams. The country also emphasised a significant English exam average score improvement in which average rating was the highest since 2009.

Lithuania has also reported similar overall exam results compared to the prior year. However, the National Agency for Lithuania revealed that math exam results caused a shock to the education system, as one-third of the students did not pass maths.

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Posted by on Thursday, 6 August 2020

Problem solving

Ofqual said that students in England who are not happy with their calculated grade could appeal in accordance with their school or college system. Alternatively, students could choose to sit an exam in autumn.

Other countries also reported the consideration of different options. France announced an offer for students to retake exams in September and the Netherlands said students who failed would be able to retake the exams at a later time. 

Berta Balsyte