Nearly a third of teachers felt 'undue pressure' when issuing exam grades last year, finds poll

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27th May 2021 11:30 - Education

Nearly a third of teachers felt 'undue pressure' when issuing exam grades last year, finds poll: A survey of school staff who were responsible for grading students last year following the cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus pandemic, found that 31% felt 'undue pressure' on their judgement, when issuing final marks to students.

The Ofqual survey polled 1,234 school staff as well as questioning 54 teachers in more detail, also finding that around 20 participants felt pressure from parents and/or senior leadership throughout the process.

The feedback was collected before the government moved to abandon its standardisation process and issue centre-assessed grades.

Almost two-thirds of respondents reported that measures were taken to protect them against 'external influences' such as parents and students, however, one in five (21%) were not sure if this was the case. One in 10 (10%) said partially effective steps were taken, while 4% said no measures were taken at all to protect them.

The research also asked teachers to rate the weighting given to different types of evidence in 2020 using a scale of 0 to 100.  The most important evidence according to respondents, with a mean rating of 81.8, were mock exams, followed by class tests (53.1), class work (52.8), assignments (44.5) and evidence of a student's ability to perform in exams (44.3).

Asked about whether they engaged with colleagues to form their judgements for students, 91% said that they did. Of these, 88% said their engagement with others was done remotely, while 12% discussed their judgement with another staff member face-to-face (in a socially distanced way).

Survey participants were also asked to rate how confident they were in their judgements for their pupils with the overall mean confidence at 85.5  (median rating of 90). When asked the same question about final grades handed out, 78.9 was the mean rating (median score 88). According to the survey breakdown, more senior staff had greater confidence in their grading, with heads of centres having a mean confidence score of 84.5, compared to teachers who had a rating of 74.

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