AQA welcomes Ofqual report on marking

Published: Friday 14 Feb 2014

AQA, an education charity and leading provider of qualifications, has today welcomed Ofqual's Review of Quality of Marking report.

AQA sets the papers for around half of all GCSEs and A-levels.  Every year, nearly 2 million students sit AQA exams and we mark more than 7 million exam scripts. 

AQA's Centre for Education Research and Practice is a leading international authority on assessment with 40 years expertise in this area and shares its research with the academic and education community.

Andrew Hall, Chief Executive of AQA, said: "We welcome today's report, which draws heavily on research by AQA's Centre for Education Research and Practice and reflects much of our own thinking. 

"We know that getting the right results is absolutely crucial for both students and their teachers, and we agree the current appeals system needs to be improved so that it properly addresses genuine marking errors and builds confidence in the exam system.

"However, it's important to remember that the process of ensuring students get the right results starts long before an examiner sits down to mark their scripts.  Dealing with the root causes of the issue is critical and that starts with the design of the qualification, the question paper and the mark scheme guidance, which all have to work well.  If they don't, then there is only so much you can do to put that right further down the line."

AQA's response to the report's other recommendations is as follows:

  • Better data capture and monitoring – AQA already routinely analyses information about Enquiries about Results (EaR) and appeals in order to continuously improve how we do things.  We also closely analyse how students respond to an individual exam paper and feed the findings back into our process for designing exam papers. We are working with Ofqual to share our good practice in this area.
  • Improving marking quality and mark schemes – We would welcome further debate in this area. Identifying the root causes of errant marking is at the heart of our overall approach. However, an effective mark scheme is about much more than just the consistency of the examiners' marks.  For example, you also need to look at:
    • how the mark scheme relates to the paper
    • how easy it is for an examiner to understand
    • whether it gives marks for the right things, so that students get the right grade.
  • Better understanding of the exam system - We've been working to explain clearly what we do because we know that it can help improve confidence in the overall exam system. This includes producing an animated film - Making a qualification, which explains how we create a new syllabus. Our website has special sections for teachers, students and parents which explain how the system works.
  • Improving marking processes – We have a number of different quality control systems in place throughout the marking process. This includes senior examiners reviewing a sample of marking by each examiner to ensure they are applying the mark scheme correctly and students are being given the right marks. They provide detailed feedback to examiners and if an examiner is not able to mark correctly, their scripts are given to another examiner. We are constantly seeking better ways of using the data we receive from schools to innovate and ensure our marking is as consistent, fair and to the right standard as possible.



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