My thoughts on the appeals information released by @JCQ today.… A thread. As ever, I am grateful from engagement, comments and retweets #exams2021 #edutwitter
There is much in the documentation to commend. There is a much stronger relationship this year between the appeals process and the UCAS process which is welcome. Pupils need to submit UCAS no. With appeal. Priority appeals will hopefully avoid some of the maelstrom of last year.
Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how many universities will wait appeals out (especially if there are Weimar levels of inflation in the system and constraints on spaces/places as a result).
That awarding organisations will not except appeals directly from pupils or their parents, but only through a centre, is sensible insofar as it allows schools to maintain an overview.
The firm commitment to assess whether a grade is an reasonable exercise of academic judgement in its own right, and not that an alternative, similarly reasonable judgement could have ended up with a different grade, provides reassurance to teachers fearing a free for all.
But, how many pupils and parents will understand this nuance when faced with disappointment? If last year is an indicator, not many!
The decision to view appeals with the same holistic approach that schools are taking is smart. Consequently, appeals cannot be seen as way to review the marking of individual assessment of bits of evidence within the evidence basket.
That appeals which are upheld may not necessarily lead to the changing of a pupil’s grade mirrors the marginal (and rather paltry) gains that result from the appeals process in a “normal” year. To do otherwise would undermine any confidence teachers have left in the system.
As I see it, there are several significant problems with the process as described in the @JCQ appeals guidance.
The guidance says that multiple appeals might cancel each other out/overwrite decisions. I get the logic here (to discourage appeals on multiple fronts) but surely there is a hierarchy of importance? Perhaps that would be simply too complicated to administer!
Given that pupils have until 3rd September to appeal (which is far too late in my opinion) will this mean they will take one appeal issue at a time and further require the resources of schools preparing for a coming academic year?
Pupils are rightly required to provide an explanation where they are challenging the reasonable academic judgement of their teachers. But this requires a pupil and their parents to make an academic judgement of their own.
Yet their level of investment into the process, and any absence of professional credibility or experience, means that they can never make an academic judgement to match that of the seasoned, trained, teacher. To suggest they can is folly.
The guidance also seems to tie it self in knots a little with regards to the issue of transposition errors where pupils grades may be reversed as an administrational error.
If I’m reading the guidance right, the implication is that a pupil who has not appealed their grade but who was the other party in the transposition error may lose out through no fault of their own.
The guidance states that any errors need to be corrected to “command public confidence” in the system. While laudable, this seems particularly harsh on the people who didn’t appeal but whose grade could be changed as a result. Will this stand in practise, I wonder?
The other issue I have relates to the need to justify why certain pieces of evidence were not used as a basis of a grade. I wonder just how many teachers/schools will have thought to include this level of detail to help with the (inevitable?) appeals process to come?
This question also seems to be posed with complete disregard for the dogged dogma of consistency that we are required to maintain between pupils and their evidence bases.
The biggest concern I have is on the issue of the independent reviewers who will adjudicate on the (un/)reasonable nature of the academic judgments of teachers. The guidance describes these reviewers as “external experts” who are well placed to adjudicate on such matters.
However, the experienced senior examiners I know, even less senior ones have not yet been asked to take part in this process. Maybe that is to come but if so, it is a little late, no?
One imagines the number of appeals will necessitate a large number of these independent reviewers. We know the boards don’t have the people power to do this themselves at any national scale.
Will our beleaguered profession show an appetite to engage in this part of the process in the way that they ordinarily do with exam script marking where there is genuine opportunity for CPD.
There is lots here to deter pupils from appealing (not least that grades could be negatively impacted) but will the riches of the appeal process this year mean that more pupils ‘give it a go’ creating mountains more work for teachers and school leaders?
This graph shows appeals from 2020. Who can say? I’d be interested in your thoughts on all this!

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More from @CroydonHighDHA

23 May
Solicitors are now beginning of focus on TAGs and the potential for appeals. In itself that—I suppose— is unsurprising. Business is business. One such firm caught my attention when asking: What is reasonable academic judgement?…
The @JCQcic guidance spends considerable page space saying what it is not: “An exercise of judgement will not be unreasonable simply because a student considers that an alternative grade should have been awarded, even if the student puts forward supporting evidence.”
It continues: “There may be a difference of opinion without there being an unreasonable exercise of judgement. The reviewer will not remark individual assessments to make fine judgements but will take a holistic approach based on the overall evidence.”
Read 13 tweets
18 May
From evidence to grades: The challenges and what do about them (A thread I hope you will find useful)
(Thread 1/2)
#edutwitter #exams2021

One of the most obvious tensions in the Teacher-Assessed Grade (TAG) process is how teachers get from a basket of evidence to a final grade.
What are we told/given (Part 1)
The @JCQcic guidance tells us that TAGs should be based on an objective judgement of the available evidence of pupils’ current performance. However, we are also told that there is no need to draw a line between the evidence and grade.
While the judgement of the basket of evidence should be objective, teachers are asked to reach the final grade holistically using their professional judgement (read: subjectively). Teachers will spend hours trying to square this circle.
Read 29 tweets
21 Apr
A thread on the @Ofqual appeals consultation. #exams2021 #edutwitter he consultation closes at 11.45pm on 5 May.…
Every learner will be able to instruct the centre which determined their Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) to
conduct a centre review and to submit an appeal to the awarding organisation on
behalf of the learner, in relation to that TAG.
The centre will have no discretion whether or not to conduct the review or submit the appeal.This year, because the centre made the decision
subject to the appeal (the TAG), the learner will be responsible for explaining the
grounds of appeal.
Read 20 tweets
16 Apr
Much has been written about the divergence between the ways that individual schools are awarding Teacher-Assessed Grades. This thread outlines why the divergence exists. Schools are trying their best in an impossibly hard situation. A thread. #exams2021 #edutwitter
The guidance says that there is ‘no minimum requirement’ on which the awarding of TAGs should rest. However, schools are also told that the content covered should be ‘sufficient to award a grade’. What constitutes sufficient?
The guidance says that the evidence used to award TAGs should be consistent across a cohort. However, schools are also told that evidence can be replaced if it 'doesn't reflect a pupil's usual level of performance'. It has to be 'because of a specific circumstance’.
Read 14 tweets

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