Best Practice

Teacher-assessed exam grades: Why ranking may be the most vital element

In order to award this summer’s GCSE and A level qualifications, schools and teachers are being asked both to grade and rank their students in each subject. Tom Middlehurst looks at why the ranking element of this process might be more important than the grading itself

Throughout May, school leaders, heads of department and teachers will be preparing to submit their teacher assessments for GCSE, AS and A level candidates due to take exams this summer.

While there are still uncertainties over the process, including the final methodology for the national standardisation exercise, we do know that all centres will need to submit a prediction for what each of their students would have achieved had they sat the exams as normal. When the new-style exams themselves are still in their infancy, this is not a task that will come easily to many.

All teachers are used to providing “working at” grades, target grades and feedback as part of formative assessment. In its guidance for schools, Ofqual points out that a predicted final grade is not the same as any of these (Ofqual, 2020).

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