The scandal of re-marking and change of exam grades

An increasing number of schools are asking for their students’ examination scripts to be re-marked. They do this because they believe that the grade awarded by the examination board is not true reflection of a particular student’s ability in that subject. At a well-known independent school in North London – Haberdasher Askes School in Elstree, well over 50% of the scripts that were asked to be re-marked resulted in a change to the original exam grade that the student was awarded in the first place.

We live in a world where so much hinges on examination results, therefore it is vital that all stakeholders have confidence in the examination system. In 2015 62,000 GCSE grades were changed after re-marking. The figure for A-level was 28,500 and in both cases the figures represent an increase from the previous year. From 2014 to 2015, there was an increase of 22% in the number of grades that were challenged and a 17% rise in the number that was changed after a challenge. The fact that every year the number of schools asking examination boards to re-mark their students’ exam scripts keeps increasing, is of a real concern.


Should complaining about grades be made more difficult?

The reaction of The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation – OFQUAL – the examinations watchdog for GCSE s and A-levels, is to recommend that grade challenges are made a lot more difficult. Headteachers are apparently not at all happy with that proposal and they are recommending that the government sets aside a £10m fund to police examination re-marks. School headteachers are recommending that two independent examiners should re-mark the script and in cases where they disagree, they should have a discussion and come to an agreement on the appropriate grade for that particular student.

In my next blog, I will be exploring both the financial cost and also the potentially life-lasting consequences of an incorrect examination grades being awarded to a student.