This blog has been updated following the final decisions published by Ofqual on 8 July 2016 to reflect the change of subjects involved in the appeals pilot from maths to physics.
Ofqual have published the outcome of a consultation to try to make the process of addressing concerns about a student’s GCSE, AS or A level mark 'clearer, more consistent and fairer'.
OCR has a very rigorous system in place to ensure that papers are marked accurately and consistently (for more information have a look at our video and factsheet about our six checks on marking).
However, very occasionally, mistakes are made, and it’s important to make sure there’s a good system in place that gives students and teachers the right to request a review of marking so we can correct any mistakes.
Key changes are as follows:
An enquiry involves a review of the original marking and is not a re-mark. Ofqual wants exam boards to take further steps to ensure all of our assessors understand this requirement and are suitably trained to conduct the work accurately and consistently. Ofqual’s research has shown that schools usually ask exam boards to check marks that are just below a boundary, so a small change in a mark can lead to a grade change, and potentially advantage students whose marks were reviewed over those that weren’t. By ensuring that marks are reviewed, only those marks that are the result of a genuine marking error not a difference in judgement will be changed, which will be fairer to all candidates.
OCR will enhance the way we train examiners who conduct reviews of marking, so that they only change marks where they detect a marking error. We are also going to monitor our examiners more closely during the review period through the extension of our industry-leading marker monitoring system.
OCR will also improve the information we send you about the outcome of a marking review. For the very small number of cases where we discover that a student’s grade has changed by two grades or more, we will automatically provide more detail about the reasons for the change.
Ofqual has confirmed that exam boards must continue to make AS and A Level scripts available to schools ahead of the closing date for reviews of marking. In addition, they have given exam boards the option of extending these arrangements to GCSE. We recognise that making GCSE scripts available would be welcomed and are seeking to implement it for 2017.
Currently, schools can only submit an appeal to an exam board if they think an exam board has not followed procedures that are consistent with the Ofqual Code of Practice properly and fairly. Ofqual is proposing to extend the grounds on which schools can make an appeal, so that a school can appeal if it believes that a marking error was not corrected during the review. In 2016, Ofqual is planning to pilot these new grounds for an appeal in three subjects: A Level Physics, Geography and Religious Studies. This will then be evaluated to see if it can be implemented more widely. We’ll provide you with further information about this pilot as soon as possible.
Dr Frances Wilson - Principal Researcher
Dr Frances Wilson is the Principal Researcher for OCR’s Research and Technical Standards team, part of the Assessment Standards Team at OCR. Frances and her team carry out valuable research and technical studies to underpin the development and delivery of OCR’s qualifications. OCR is part of Cambridge Assessment which is a department of the University of Cambridge.