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GCSE and A Level results 2019/20 – Further guidance

Process used to award GCSE and A Level grades in 2019/20 due to Coronovirus

Step 1 – awarding of grades

Schools and colleges were asked to provide Centre Assessment Grades for each student and then rank order them within each grade. The Centre Assessment Grade is the teacher’s professional judgement of the most likely grade a student would have achieved if exams had gone ahead.

The grade was based on a range of evidence including mock exams, non-exam assessment, homework assignments and any other record of a student’s performance over the course of study.

For tiered subjects, the Centre Assessment Grade had to reflect the tier of entry; for example 9 to 3 (or U) for higher tier and 5 to 1 (or U) for foundation tier.

The school then created a rank order of all students within each grade, for every subject. This might be all students at Grade 5 in GCSE Maths or at Grade B in A-level biology. The grades were ranked from highest to lowest where student 1 is the most secure at that grade, student 2 the next most secure, and so on. The rank order included both higher and foundation tier students. Higher tier students did not need to be ranked above foundation tier students. For example, a foundation tier student with a Centre Assessment Grade of 4 was not ranked above a higher tier student with the same Centre Assessment Grade.

Once all grades and rank orders were completed two subject teachers had to sign off the centre assessment grade, one of whom was the Head of Department. The Head of Centre checked all grades and ranking and then signed off the submission. The deadline for this process was 12 June 2020.

Step 2 – exam board moderation

To make the process fair for everyone, the exam boards standardised the Centre Assessment Grades across all schools and colleges. They used evidence such as prior attainment and national level grade distribution so that final grades were aligned across all schools and colleges, and of equal value to previous years. This process ensured that the students were treated fairly if some schools had been more generous than others when making their judgements. As a result, individual grades may have been adjusted upwards or downwards. This means that the final grade awarded to a student could be different from the one that the school provided.

It has been made clear by Ofqual and the DfE that Centres may not share Centre Assessed Grades (CAG) or rank orders for GCSEs, BTECs and A Levels in advance of results days.

Appeals process

Following consultation, Ofqual (the national examination and qualifications regulator) decided that on balance it would not be in the interests of students or the fairness of the arrangements overall if students could challenge their Centre Assessment Grades or rank order position.

Ofqual has also reported back on further work it has done on whether to allow schools and colleges to appeal on the basis of a significant change in the demographic makeup of its 2020 cohort in a subject. The regulator proposes there will be no new grounds for appeal on this basis. There is already a limited route for exceptional cases to be considered which would be very rare given the degree of change required to affect final results. This means that there will not be the opportunity for ‘routine’ appeals against awarded grades.

Ofqual do note that there may be ‘rare cases’ where a student considers Centre Assessment Grades or rank order information was demonstrably affected by bias. Students should raise any such concerns with the centre. They also state that, as always, where there is evidence of serious malpractice on the part of the centre, it may be appropriate to bring those concerns directly to exam boards for investigation as potential malpractice.

Option to re-sit in the Autumn

Students who wish to do so may re-sit any qualification in an Autumn examination series. If a student chooses to take an exam, the higher of the two grades they received can be used. This means a student will not jeopardise their calculated grade if it was higher.

Requesting your Centre Assessed Grades and rank orders

We are not able to share any details of Centre Assessed Grades or rank orders before results day.

Requests received prior to results day will be answered within 40 days of the results day, as set out by the Information Commissioner’s Office here: https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protection-and-coronavirus-information-hub/exam-script-exemption/.

Following results day, students can request their Centre Assessed Grades information from the school by sending an email to: cag@kcsp.org.uk with the following information:

  • Student Name
  • Student Address
  • School
  • I am requesting my Centre Assessed Grades.

Any request for Centre Assessed Grades must be made by the student.  Requests for results from parents, will be referred back to the student.

It is quite possible that an individual student’s Centre Assessed Grade will differ from the final Calculated Grade received on results day. Examination Boards and Ofqual have carried out a moderation and standardisation exercise and have explained that all Centres can expect to see some changes to their Centre Assessed Grades. 

Please be aware that following DfE and Ofqual advice, we are not able to enter into any further correspondence about the awarding of CAGs or rank orders