Project to help DfE learn lessons from 2020 exam grading

The Department for Education is to start a new research project, using students' data from the grading process in 2020, in order to learn lessons and shape future education policy.

In summer 2020, with the closure of schools and cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, alternative awarding arrangements were put in place, with students receiving either the higher of a standardised grade or their centre assessment grade.

The data sharing project is a joint initiative by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), the Department for Education (DfE) and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). It will provide researchers and analysts access to data concerning examinations and admissions to conduct research on educational and assessment systems in England and learn lessons from 2020 summer awarding arrangements.

The project will allow the DfE to learn lessons from the awarding of grades for GCSEs and A levels in summer 2020 and use data from the awarding of GCSEs and A levels in the period 2017 to 2020 to inform future education policy – particularly around the fairness of methods for measuring students’ attainment, and implications for schools’ and colleges’ admissions processes.

It will also provide accredited researchers with access to data through the Office of National Statistics Secure Research Service to allow them to perform insightful, evaluative independent research

The data will also be available to Ofqual, DfE and UCAS to undertake research which could inform decisions about future arrangements for awarding qualifications.

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