SAPS 185 – Botch Job? “I am not my postcode.” When Algorithms Define Kids by Postcode Have Mock Grades ‘Made A Mockery’ of Exams?

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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“I am not my postcode.”

Tuppence Worth

I am really concerned for teenagers around the UK as not only have they had to contend with the global pandemic, lockdown and being stuck in but now they have to cope with the utter SHAMBLES of the governments from Scotland and England’s handling of the exam result debacle.

Adding extraordinary stress to a young person’s mental health.

The Department for Education has announced a last-minute “triple lock” – which could raise replacement grades for exams cancelled in the pandemic.

It means pupils could have whichever result is highest from estimated grades, mocks or exams in the autumn.

But the Ofqual exams watchdog says it cannot say how appeals over mocks might be verified until next week.

Ofqual said in a statement it was “working urgently” to “determine what standards of evidence will be required for the appeal”.

The National Union of Students said using mock results risked “making a mockery” of the exam system.

And headteachers attacked the change, the day before A-level results are published, as “panicked and chaotic”.

But England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it was a “safety net” for those getting estimated grades this summer.

We’ve already seen the chaos in Scotland with Nicola Sturgeon doing a massive U Turn around the grades allocated to students.

In Wales, in another “guarantee” over grades, Education Minister Kirsty Williams has promised that “a learner’s final A-level grade cannot be lower than their AS-grade”.

The change in England means that if pupils get an estimated grade lower than their mock exam they can appeal – but this will have to be through their school, with the terms for approving appeals still to be decided by the exam watchdog, Ofqual.

Other schools might be tough on marking mocks as a way of getting pupils to revise.

To use such different circumstances for results “defies logic and credibility,”

“The use of mock exams results risks making a mockery of the whole system,” said Larissa Kennedy, president of the National Union of Students.

She warned there was a “lack of a standard approach to mock exams” and “they are not taken by all candidates”

How grades are being decided around the UK

England: the key information for A-levels and GCSEs will be how pupils are ranked by their school and results in their schools and colleges in previous years.

Plus a “triple lock” with the highest grade out of the estimated grade, an autumn written exam or a mock exam, dependent on a successful appeal through a school

Vocational qualifications will have estimated results for some courses, but not the same “triple lock”

Northern Ireland will allow appeals based on mocks and includes AS-levels in deciding results

Scotland has switched to using teachers’ predicted grades

Wales has promised students that A-level results will not be lower than their AS-level results.

When algorithms define kids by postcode: UK exam results chaos reveal too much reliance on data analytics

Scotland

Unable to take their exams during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with schools shut back in March, students received their grades for an exam-free year last week for Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) courses by letter, text, and email.

When they opened the envelopes containing the grades necessary for higher courses or university, many were left disappointed.

It then emerged that the exam board had decided to lower tens of thousands of grades from the original awards recommended by teachers. In total, 124,564 exam results — roughly 25% of those issued by the SQA — were downgraded, according to The Independent.

The grading system used by the exam board’s moderators leveraged data based on the past performance of schools. The pass rate for students undertaking higher courses in deprived locations across Scotland was reduced by 15.2%, in comparison to 6.9% in more affluent areas.

 


 

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Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A

Q. Ever since March and this talk of the pandemic, my teen daughter has been having difficulty sleeping. She wakes up at night in terror, often screams and runs into my room. She says she is having dreams about devils and ghosts. Is this natural? She asks a lot of questions about Covid19 which we try and answer without making her scared, but the nightmares have not stopped. Jyothi K, Bengaluru
A.

Answer:

Many children globally are struggling to make sense and come to terms with all the changes that the pandemic has brought into all of our lives. Nightmares and fears are the unconscious trying to tell us something is wrong. So, sit gently and quietly and ask what is worrying or bothering your daughter so you can learn about her fears. Restrict access to the News as children get scared by the coverage and often get hold of the wrong end of the stick sometimes misunderstanding what is actually happening.   Also, be careful how you speak about Covid19 as she may be picking up on your anxiety.

I have written an ebook ‘Ant I Viral & The Virus’ Tina Stubbs & Sue Atkins’ Coronavirus Children’s eBook to help parents and children discuss what’s happening in a relaxed and confident manner.

https://sueatkinsparentingcoach.com/product/ant-i-virus-childrens-book/

Reassure, speak confidently about ways to stay safe like washing your hands and wearing a mask and keeping socially distant so she will feel empowered around what she can do to help keep herself and the family safe and well.

Hope that helps.

Sue

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