Why are examiners making so many mistakes? | Jackie Long on Social Affairs

Why are examiners making so many mistakes?

Sunday 20 May 2012 1:46 pm

When it comes to crucial GCSE and A level exams, it’s the students who might be expected to get it wrong – not the people marking the papers.

But we’ve discovered extraordinary evidence of the most basic mistakes being made by examiners which are having the most profound effect on young people’s futures. Students have been awarded the wrong grades – and perhaps even worse – the examining board was informed of those mistakes but seemed unwilling to do anything about it.

David Leitch is one of the senior exam supervisors from the Oxford Cambridge and RSA exam board (OCR). He told us he began to uncover significant errors in marked exam papers during a routine check. Pretty fundamental errors too. In one example, a mark of 28 inside a paper was incorrectly copied onto the front of the exam paper as 25.

But when he went to his superiors at OCR, they told him to discontinue the checks on the papers.

He went to the exam regulator, Ofqual. They told him they were on the case and they’d asked OCR to sort it out.

But as time elapsed Mr Leitch remained unconvinced and kept doing his own checks. Those checks revealed yet more mistakes.

(Click to watch Jackie Long’s exclusive report)

OCR have apologised. The regulator Ofqual says the situation is unsatisfactory but insists the problem is not widespread.

But this has thrown an ugly light on the whole way exams are marked.

Why are examiners making so many mistakes? Why aren’t their sufficient checks done before grades go out? Why would an exam board decide it’s acceptable not to correct the mistakes its examiners are making?

In the language the OCR exam board might understand: Please make sure you answer all of the above questions fully. Your time starts now.

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