Catherine Lough

England’s exams regulator has rejected the option of delving into school level GCSE and A-level grades this year to check for potential bias, it revealed today.

Concerns that the teacher-assessed grades could lead to an unfavourable bias against particular ethnic groups have been raised ever since they were announced as a replacement for this summer’s cancelled exams.

An Ofqual consultation on the grading process published tonight says that one way of correcting for bias would be looking at a school’s grades and “statistically adjusting the standard being applied to different groups of students (for example by SES [socio-economic status], SEND, ethnicity and gender)”.

“This would be done to replicate historical patterns of results for the different groups,” the regulator suggests.

But it says it does not want to use the approach, which would be “based on the perhaps questionable assumption that any difference in patterns found this year would reflect bias rather than the likely outcome had examinations proceeded as planned”.

The absence of checks within schools’ grading decisions may cause some concern.

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