11 August 2021
by Jan McArthur

The great pandemic GCSE and A-level experiment: what if we never went back to the old system?

The cancellation of exams due to the pandemic has meant that 2021 has been a year of hurried experimentation in school assessment. But despite claims of grade inflation under the temporary system deployed this year, it’s worth considering whether there is anything we can take away from this experience to improve things in the future.

This year’s A-level and GCSE results were decided via teacher assessment. They are being treated as an anomaly that must be rectified in future. But that denies the legitimate achievements of students and teachers. It will also impoverish the education of future generations if we fail to appreciate the merits of this year’s system. We should embrace the lessons of an assessment approach based on multiple forms of evidence of achievement over time.

Grade inflation is a term of moral panic, not fact. The idea that too many pupils have been awarded top grades perpetuates an elitist view of education that is not based on merit but on winners and losers. An increase in high marks does not prove grade inflation, unless we can also evidence that these grades are less deserved than previous years – that they are marked against lower standards or marked less rigorously.

You can read the full article at The Conversation.