So Ofqual has investigated the controversy over English GCSEs in the summer and produced its report
. It finds that exam boards had to increase the grade boundaries to balance over-marking on the controlled assessments in some schools.
This may be what happened but to accept it as appropriate is ludicrous. What it means is that students in all schools face a higher grade boundary set because of over-marking in only some schools. So schools that did not over-mark find themselves facing the greatest punishment.
In any sensible world the response to over-marking would be to check school assessed papers and correct the errors. Internal teacher assessment for GCSEs is not new and happens in many subjects. Teachers know that they must accurately, as their papers may be checked and their students downgraded. Why this didn't happen with English GCSE is unclear, though it may be what the report refers to as "design problems".
The press release quotes Glenys Stacey, Ofqual Chief Executive, as defending what happened by saying “Overall, the grading of GCSE English in the summer of 2012 was a fair reflection of the performance of pupils as a whole."
This is a nonsense. What the report makes clear is that some students (where over-marking took place) will get higher grades than they deserved. others (where schools marked correctly) will get lower grades than they deserved. But, to Ofqual, the result is "fair" because the overall % passing English GCSE is about right.
Last year students in schools that put their whole Year 11 in for early entry in January 2012 did very well. Those where teachers over-marked, according to this report, also gained benefit from it. But students who took the exam in June 2012 and whose teachers did not over-mark have been punished with lower grades.
The duty of Ofqual is surely to ensure all students are fairly assessed in their exams, not just that the overall % was about right. It is clear from this report that Ofqual has failed in this duty and also failed to recognise its failure in this report.