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EdTech Assessment Toolkit

Exam Grading (UK)

Prediction model

OFqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) serves as the regulatory body for qualifications, exams, and assessments in the UK. As students were not able to sit their exams in 2020, OFqual designed an algorithm to predict the grades of students. Predicted grades were determined through the evaluation of various data, including teacher assessments, coursework, mock exams, and relevant information to assess students’ likely performance in traditional exams. These predicted grades were then used to award qualifications to students. In August 2020, Ofqual’s algorithm played a significant role in calculating 82% of ‘A level’ grades. The algorithm was responsible for assigning more than 4.6 million GCSEs, which accounted for approximately 97% of the total (Elgot & Adams, 2020). Although teacher rankings were considered, the algorithm did not take into account, the teacher-assessed grades submitted by schools and colleges (Thompson, Gulson, Swist, & Witzenberger, 2023).

However, the algorithm predicted grades for some students that were far lower than expected, especially amongst schools with a higher percentage of black and minority ethnic (BAME) students. In the face of protests, the algorithm was eventually scrapped (Gulson, Benn, Kitto, Knight, & Swist, 2021).

Snapshot (July 2023)

System task/function: Exam Grade Prediction
Model: Prediction Model
Deployment: Algorithmic grade prediction
Location of application: United Kingdom
Rationale for introduction: Award each student a fair grade by predicting their exam results
Vendor: The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation
Pricing: N/A
Data and computation: teacher assessments, coursework, mock exams, and relevant information to assess students’ likely performance in traditional exams
Inequalities/harms: Bias
Status: Removed
Authority/regulation: national level
Unintended consequences: Students of minority background have been graded lower than others
Sanction/redress: The use of the system was suspended in August 2020 and students have been awarded grades predicted by their teachers

References/further reading

Elgot, J., & Adams, R. (2020). Ofqual exam results algorithm was unlawful, says Labour. Retrieved from

Gulson, K., Benn, C., Kitto, K., Knight, S., & Swist, T. (2021). Algorithms can decide your marks, your work prospects and your financial security. How do you know they’re fair? Retrieved from

Thompson, G., Gulson, K. N., Swist, T., & Witzenberger, K. (2023). Responding to sociotechnical controversies in education: a modest proposal toward technical democracy. Learning, Media and Technology, 48(2), 240-252. doi:10.1080/17439884.2022.2126495