Teacher assessed grades


Teacher assessed grades can be an overwhelming topic to understand. Essentially, the government has said that many exams cannot be held fairly this year as a result of the disruption pupils have faced due to the pandemic. 

As a result, teachers will instead submit grades to the exam boards based on their assessments of pupils. 

The grades submitted to exam boards must reflect a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the pupil’s performance across a range of evidence, on the curriculum content that they have been taught.

The Department for Education (DfE) explains that schools should be careful to avoid teachers being put under pressure from students and parents to submit grades that are higher than the evidence supports.

The results days for this year are 10th August (AS and A levels) and 12th August (GCSEs).

If you are an Edapt subscriber, and you are alleged of exam malpractice you can contact us for further support and advice.

In this article we provide a summary of the DfE’s ‘Submission of teacher assessed grades, summer 2021: info for teachers’ as well as Ofqual’s ‘Student guide to awarding: summer 2021’.

Teacher assessed grades: which exams does it apply to?

Ofqual explains that teacher assessed grades will be relevant to:

  • GCSEs (including short course GCSEs)
  • AS and A levels
  • Project qualifications (L1, L2 and EPQ)
  • Advanced Extension Awards (AEA) in maths

Teacher assessed grades: how will they be determined?

  • Graded by teacher judgement, with grades signed off by head of department and headteacher before being submitted to the exam board
  • Not graded by an algorithm

The DfE recommends the following types of evidence, where available:

  1. Student work produced in response to assessment materials normally provided by the exam board including past papers, and the groups of questions being provided to support evidence gathering this summer, or similar materials such as practice or sample papers
  2. Non-exam assessment (NEA) work (often referred to as coursework), even if this has not been fully completed
  3. Student work produced in centre-devised tasks that reflect the specification, that follow the same format as exam board materials and have been marked in a way that reflects exam board mark schemes. This can include substantial class or homework (including those that took place during remote learning), internal tests taken by pupils and mock exams taken over the course of study
  4. Records of a student’s capability and performance over the course of study in performance-based subjects such as music, drama and PE
  5. Records of each student’s standard of work over the course of study

Schools should bear in mind the following factors in deciding how to balance different sources of evidence.

When the evidence was produced

More recent evidence is likely to be more representative of student performance, although there may be exceptions, for example where a student has experienced significant ill health since the earlier assessments.

What students were asked to do

Centres should aim to use consistent sources of evidence for a class or cohort that relate closely to the specification requirements. The rationale for any exceptions should be documented. Some tiered GCSEs specify content for higher tier students only, and in all qualifications, centres will need to provide accessible questions/tasks for lower attaining students and appropriately demanding questions/tasks for higher attaining students to support higher grades.

How the evidence was produced

Centres should be confident that work produced is the student’s own and that the student has not been given inappropriate levels of support to complete it, either in the centre, at home or with an external tutor. Exam boards will investigate instances where it appears that evidence is not authentic.

Other considerations

The range and amount of evidence could vary between subjects. Centres will need to be flexible where some students have missed particular assessments, through no fault of their own, and may substitute other evidence if available.

Internal sign off with teacher assessed grades

Department sign-off

Each grade for a subject must be signed off by at least 2 teachers in that subject, one of whom should be the head of department or subject lead. Where there is only one teacher in the subject or department, or only one is available, the head of centre should be the second signatory. Where a staff member might have a personal interest in a candidate (for example as a relative), heads of centre should make sure that additional controls are put in place, as appropriate.

Head of centre sign-off

The head of centre is required to confirm that the grades are a true representation of student performance. If the head of centre is unavailable to do this, it may be delegated to a deputy. The head of centre will be required to submit a declaration when the data is submitted, which will include the following points.

I confirm that:

  • These grades have been checked for accuracy, reviewed by a second member of staff and are accurate and represent the professional judgements made by my staff
  • Entries were appropriate for each candidate in that students entered were those already studying the course, and each candidate has no more than one entry per subject
  • My centre has met the requirements set out by exam boards/JCQ for internal quality assurance
  • I am satisfied that each student’s grade is based on an appropriately broad range of evidence, including evidence from other centres, providers or specialist teachers if relevant, and is their own work
  • Each student has been taught (or, in the case of private candidates, has studied) an appropriate amount of content to provide the basis for a grade
  • Exam board requirements have been met for any private candidates
  • Access arrangements and reasonable adjustments were provided with appropriate input from the SENCo and other specialists (and where they were not, that has been taken into account)
  • I and my staff have taken note of the Ofqual guidance on making objective judgements, judgements have not been influenced by pressure from students, parents or carers, and I am confident that the judgements are fair
  • All relevant student evidence and records are available for inspection, as necessary

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
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