Concerns over marking as record level of exam grades are changed

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RECORD numbers of A-level and GCSE grades were changed this year amid growing concerns about marking.

New figures show that tens of thousands of results were altered after soaring numbers of papers were submitted to exam boards for rechecking and re-marking with almost one-in-five resulting in a grade change.

England’s exams regulator Ofqual said it had expected to see a rise in enquiries this year following sweeping changes to the exams system, but acknowledged that the hike, especially at GCSE level, was concerning.

Head teachers said they were not surprised by the rise as many schools had seen “worrying” results which they did not believe reflected students’ abilities.

The Ofqual figures show a 48 per cent increase in the number of enquiries sent back for checks and re-marks.

Secondary schools and colleges sent back 450,500 papers, up from 304,250 last year. This resulted in 45,500 grades being changed, up from 39,650. Overall, nearly one in five (19.1 per cent) inquiries resulted in a grade change. The figures shows a 56 per cent increase in GCSE results sent back by schools for checks and re-marks, while the number of A-level papers resubmitted rose by 34 per cent.

Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey said: “Teachers and others should expect marking to be of good quality and are quite rightly perplexed and concerned on those rare occasions when marks change considerably on appeal.

“Teachers’ confidence in marking has fallen. They can be reassured that we are taking their concerns seriously.” Ofqual said it expected more enquiries because a move to end-of-course GCSE exams and cuts to resits at A-level meant more exam papers were marked this summer.