TEFS is about equality of opportunity for all students regardless of background, gender, disability or race.
University: UK: Access: Social Mobility: Government: Fairness: Equality: Equity: College: School: Education: Higher Education: Further Education
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Search This Blog
TWO: What of fairness and equality?
Considerable fears remain in many quarters that fairness and equality will elude the government and Ofqual. The current system appears to be trying to chase ‘ghosts’ that cannot be caught or assessed using current methods. A new way to assess students will be needed that gathers the attributes of students in the context of their situation. Of course, ensuring equal access to education on a level playing field would be a better way to give all of them same chance.
There is little doubt that the Centre Assessment Grade (CAG) methodology used by Ofqual this summer was crudely designed to ensure as little grade inflation as possible. By achieving this goal, it is only logical to assume that any existing inequalities would remain in place as standards remained the same across the board. Schools and colleges with a good past record would be guaranteed to continue to maintain this position in 2020. Others with a lesser record would stay at the back as before.
Sure enough, with ‘Student-level equalities analyses for GCSE and A level Summer 2020’, Ofqual has excelled itself with the conclusion “for GCSEs and A Levels, there is no evidence that either the calculated grades or the final grades awarded this year were systematically biased against candidates with protected characteristics or from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
The 180 pages of the .pfd document are packed with multivariate analysis tables comparing actual results from 2018 and 2019 with the Centre assessment grade (CAG) determinations from 2020.
Thus, the differential between the very top and bottom of the index is somewhat diluted due to the methodology used by Ofqual.
One wonders if there might have been a more pronounced bias against the disadvantaged at the extreme ends of the IDACI spectrum. By division into three groups instead of ten, this effect may have been hidden.
Two very important existing effects on fairness and equality are not considered in the report. The first is the inherent unreliability and possible inaccuracy of the examination assessments and the second is the existing inequality that standardisation using CAGs managed to maintain.
There is a pressing need to look again at the examination assessment methodology. This must be accompanied by a serious look at the extent of inequality in education provision. Seeking ways to hide this in the data is not a serious way forward.
Mike Larkin, retired from Queen's University Belfast after 37 years teaching Microbiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. He has served on the Senate and Finance and planning committee of a Russell Group University.
UPDATE 8th August 2020 Things are moving fast today with severe criticism mounting about Ofqual and SQA, and urgent action is needed. TEFS has laid out ten points that should be considered to reverse out of the crumbling mess. Fairness should replace 'maintaining standards' as the primary objective. The government must cease trying to defend a system that acts as a barrier to the less advantaged. Since posting yesterday, things have been moving fast. Today the Guardian put the examinations issue in large print on its front page with ‘Nearly 40% of A-level result predictions to be downgraded in England’ . This conclusion came about after some great detective work by former medical statistician, Huy Duong, who analysed the data available and reconciled this with the Ofqual announcement that there could have been a 12% inflation in higher grades. It seems that Ofqual have been caught red handed and "Duong’s findings were privately confirmed to the Guardian by ex
This week confirmed beyond any doubt that Ofqual is pointing the finger of blame for the public examinations chaos this summer firmly at the government and its ministers. The positions of Schools Minister, Nick Gibb and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson must be on the line. When Williamson is confronted by the Education Committee next week, like Momus he may find his mask has slipped and cannot lay blame anywhere else. He might be meeting his Nemesis and find he is expelled from his lofty position. Called to account. On Wednesday morning, Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, Education Permanent Secretary, Susan Acland-Hood, and Director for Qualifications, Michelle Dyson, will be called to account by the Education Committee. With the redoubtable Robert Halfon in the chair, they will face a hard time. This is because Halfon and his colleagues will be armed with more documentary evidence from Ofqual and others that look bad for both ministers. All of the correspo
UPDATE: Augar Speaks out Today, Friday 8th May 2020, Philip Augar broke cover and commented on the financial crisis in our universities in the Financial Times. With ' The time is ripe to reform UK university finance' he acknowledged that "Covid-19-related disruption may now mean that such a fee cut would be too destabilising" . He is looking to a new post-COVID-19 world and he must be listened to. The likelihood of the government's response to his report last year diverging far from its recommendations looms. Augar has offered alternative options for funding Universities in his article for the Financial Times today (8th May 2020). His input is welcome at this time and the government should be bringing him into the fold again. TEFS has argued for a comprehensive review of university finances that goes well beyond simply looking at students and fees with: "Therefore, a working group involving students (such as NUS), staff (such as UCU) universi