Students Protest Changing Exam Scores

August 30, 2020

Like many other countries, the United Kingdom had to make some tough decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of them was choosing to cancel the test that helped determine college admissions. The Department for Education came up with a plan—what if they asked teachers to estimate their students’ test scores based on their performance throughout the year? Teachers, after all, are the best judges of what students are learning at school. But when teachers turned in their scores to the Department for Education, the department decided to change it a bit. Why? Because they believed that teachers tend to overestimate their students’ abilities. So the department decided to factor in other things like how well the school itself did, and issued updated scores to students. As it turns out, students received scores way below their teachers’ estimates. In fact, the new scores ended up affecting students who did well but who were in schools that did not do well overall. So, if a low-performing school had a student who did excellent work, the student still received a lower grade than the teacher’s estimate. The Department for Education received intense criticism—how could they decide what score to give students based on factors like how the school did? Isn’t a student’s score supposed to be just that—a student’s work? The department hastily pulled back the scores, but not before the public gave them failing grades for handling the situation so poorly!