Code used to calculate qualification grades in summer 2020

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We have today (7 December 2020) published computer code that we developed to support GCSE, AS and A level awarding of calculated grades in summer 2020.

Calculated grades were not finally used in GCSE, AS or A level awarding (except in the small number of cases where they were higher than a candidate’s centre assessment grade). Nonetheless, publishing this code promotes transparency, allowing others to review and evaluate this aspect of our approach.

The code we developed and are publishing today was not the final code used. Exam boards were responsible for determining the final code that supported the production of calculated grades in a way that would work with each of their individual computer systems. The code we produced was designed to assist exam board compliance by demonstrating how our relevant regulatory requirements could be implemented.

More information about the approach we took in the summer, including an explanation of how standardisation worked, can be found in, ‘awarding GCSE, AS & A levels in summer 2020: interim report’.

The code we are publishing today is written in ‘R’. ‘R’ is a free software environment and programming language that uses publicly available online libraries. It is a flexible language and therefore the code we created could have been written in different ways. Our code includes comments written in English to help those using it.

We are currently working with UCAS, the Department for Education and Ofsted to make available the data we used in 2020 awarding and its outcomes, alongside a wider range of data, to support further transparency. This will allow further analysis – including consideration of the relationship between summer 2020 results and other measures (such as university application and attainment data and, eventually, degree outcomes) – and further review of the model we used. We plan to make the range of data available to independent, accredited researchers via the Office for National Statistics’ Secure Research Service. This data-sharing project aims to support Ofqual and the wider system to learn from this summer’s awarding process. We expect that researchers will be able to apply to access this data from early 2021.

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