Footballer Marcus Rashford is best able to capture the grotesquely unequal playing field encountered by many schoolchildren in England and the wider UK. Growing up as a kid,”Growing up as a kid,”I felt like in a 100-meter run I was starting 50 meters behind everyone else.”I felt like I was starting 50 meters behind everyone else in a 100-meter race.”
As a result of England’s third national lockdown, the closing of schools and the cancellation of GCSEs and A levels threaten changing the playing field even further in favor of advantaged students.
The lockdown would, to be sure, worsen inequality in education.
Research I have been interested in has shown that the largest learning losses from school absences during the pandemic were incurred by poorer students. There is a clear difference outside the school gates between studying at home and learning in school.
We are facing a major decision without testing this summer: how do we build a rational framework for awarding grades that will form the life chances of over a million adolescents, many of whom this year will have missed out on significant chunks of education? “alternative arrangements.”alternative deals.
It seems likely that GCSE and A-level exams will be replaced by teacher-assessed grades, but the problem of any grading system will be to compensate for the greater learning that some learners have missed.
Teachers would no doubt do their utmost to ensure that their reviews are honest.
But there is proof that forecasts and evaluation by teachers can unknowingly disadvantage students from disadvantaged backgrounds compared to their more fortunate peers.
Poorer students can suffer from getting their results forecast too poor at the very highest A-level grades. This explains why the government at this point is so keen not to exclude any final exams. Many individual schools were surprised to find that when teachers’ tests were used to evaluate final grades, their performance gaps expanded in 2020. Late outliers in the exam hall are not taken into account by ranking students based on their work completed in school and their past results. We know that boys and others from deprived backgrounds frequently make up the community of students who see their grades skyrocket across end-of-year examinations – and defy forecasts. For some time, Ofqual exam regulators have been aware of discrepancies among external moderators, whose role is to match school standards.
Some, even though they are way off, do not properly challenge or adjust grades.
Research indicates that moderators have a “anchor effect,” in which the grade of a first-time moderator serves as a “anchor” that moderators seldom deviate from. I have already advocated for a unique marking method in 2021 that could be used to classify students most affected by Covid-19 alongside exam grades. Teachers should build a contextualized framework that would mark the outcomes of students whose grades were lower than if the pandemic had not existed.
At the very least, universities will need to think about ways to lower grades for vulnerable students who have faced especially daunting conditions during the crisis. But this might also be a good time to question if examinations can actually level the playing field as they currently exist. As graded coursework has increasingly vanished from GCSEs and A levels over the last decade, England’s framework for measuring student success has concentrated too much on high-difficulty exams. With each school year, the limitations of this model become more evident. High-stakes assessments distort and restrict the curriculum, since only what can be tested is taught by educators.
Most alarmingly, each year, a “forgotten third” of learners fail GCSEs in English and math.
It hardly seems fair to have a framework that marks 30 per cent of students as losers before they even hit A-level. The tests will be replaced in 2021, and we need to ensure that there is no more disadvantage for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. When I testified last summer before the Education Committee, I challenged Rep.