England’s exams regulator reverses course after grading furore

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LONDON (Reuters) – The British government bowed to pressure over its school exam grading system, ditching an algorithm that downgraded results awarded to students for tests they did not take because of COVID-19 and provoked a public outcry.

The government had faced days of criticism after the algorithm used to assess grade predictions made by teachers lowered those grades for almost 40% of students taking their main school-leaving exams.

Students will now be awarded the grade that their teachers had predicted for them based on past performance, the government said on Monday.

“I am sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents but hope this announcement will now provide the certainty and reassurance they deserve,” education minister Gavin Williamson said.

He promised last week there would be no u-turns on the results generated by the algorithm.

The algorithm will also be dropped for results for separate exams taken by mostly by 15- and 16-year old students which are due to be announced on Thursday.

The row has damaged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s core message to voters since he was elected in December – that he wanted to get rid of barriers to achievement and help those from poorer backgrounds and areas achieve their potential.