A Levels 2022: how will exams be graded next year as record 2021 results spark concerns about grade inflation?

Education secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to be axed in a Cabinet reshuffle later this year after criticism from Tory MPS over missteps during the pandemic

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The government is now reportedly looking into changing the alphabetical grading system to a numbered approach.

It has prompted criticism from Labour who said the government shouldn’t be “playing” with the grading system.

For the second year in succession, students were given grades based on assessment by their teachers after exams were scrapped due to the Covid pandemic.

How could A Level grades be changed? 

Ministers are thought to be considering an overhaul of the marking system amid concerns that “grade inflation” has rendered the results ‘meaningless’, The Telegraph reports.

The results published on August 10 showed almost 45% were awarded an A or A* amid concerns the system was favouring private school entrants, who recorded the biggest increase.

The government is reported to be looking at replacing the traditional A to E grades with a numbered system in an effort to shore up the credibility of the qualification.

It could follow the change to GCSE style marking, which ranks grades nine to one rather than A* to G.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said far-reaching changes are required to ensure all students are given the support they need.

“I think that is just tweaking the system to get the government out of a difficult story,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“We shouldn’t be just playing around with the grading system here, we should be thinking about the quality of teaching and learning that children are receiving.”

She said the difference in performance between state and private schools was in part the result of ministers’ failure to outline a standardised process for assessing grades.

“The government didn’t set down a clear standardised process early on last year and schools, therefore, were really awarding grades in very different ways,” she said.

She suggested that in the longer term, there should be a move to a hybrid system based on a mix of course work and exams.

How will exams be assessed in 2022? 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has reportedly said he wants exams to return in 2022.

He wants a number of proposed measures in place to make up for ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic, which include ‘students being told in advance about which topics will be on test papers’.

Asked what he will do about concerns over grade inflation, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: “We have already set out, in the last academic year, our moves to moving back to examination as a form of assessment.

“We also recognise that those students who will be looking at taking exams in 2022 will also have had their education disrupted as part of that; that’s why, as part of that extensive consultation that we did in the last academic year, we set out some mitigations in order to be able to support those children.”

A Levels this year were determined by teacher judgement, with grades being signed off by the head of department and head teacher or principal being before being submitted to the exam board.

No algorithm was used this year to assign grades, with schools or colleges instead telling pupils the evidence that was used to determine grades.

A range of evidence could have been used to decide a grade, including mocks, tests and work that pupils have already done.