The exam board AQA is to pay more than £1.1m in fines and reimbursement for a string of rule breaches, errors, and failings in GCSEs and A-stages that regulators said may want to significantly undermine public self-belief inside the qualifications machine.
Ofqual, which oversees faculty exams in England, said it had levied its largest-ever pleasant on AQA after 50,000 appeals for examination papers to be reviewed or re-marked, unfold across 3 years among 2016 and 2018, had been carried out by using AQA staff who had already marked the equal papers.
The regulator additionally imposed an in addition high-quality and reprimands for other instances related to defective exam design. In 2018 more than one hundred students initially obtained lower French A-degree grades, and a question used in exercise papers became repeated within the GCSE English literature exam the same year.
In the maximum massive case, Ofqual observed that AQA – the UK’s largest examination board, awarding more than 3m certificates every yr – had ignored inner warnings in 2016 and 2017 and did not alert the regulator that re-marks were now and again completed through the identical those who conducted the initial marking.
AQA will pay a £350,000 great and provide compensation well worth £755,000 to the examination centers wherein the critiques or re-marks originated, as well as paying Ofqual’s prices for its investigation.
Ofqual stated there was no proof that students or colleges were affected, but warned: “These have been extreme breaches of situations which might be essential to the effectiveness and purpose of the system of reviewing marking and moderation.
“The disasters consequently have the capacity to seriously undermine public confidence in the evaluation of marking, moderation and appeals gadget, and the qualifications gadget extra normally.”
The investigation located AQA had failed to rent the perfect group of workers to administer appeals. Figures produced for Ofqual confirmed that AQA received £217,000 in income from costs paid for the affected appeals, while it additionally saved greater than £450,000 of “avoided expenses” in the lower workforce and compliance prices.
Mark Bedlow, AQA’s acting leader executive, defined the failure as a “technical issue” that the charity has considering fixed.
“Reviews of marking are most effective done by way of our excellent, most experienced examiners who are most unlikely to have made errors in their original marking – and, within the widespread majority of instances, we’re speakme about one remoted, anonymized solution from a paper being reviewed with the aid of the senior examiner who initially marked it.
“But reviews need to continually be finished by way of a clean pair of eyes and we’re sorry that, for a small share in the beyond, this wasn’t the case,” Bedlow stated.
In the alternative incidents highlighted with the aid of Ofqual, AQA turned into fined £50,000 plus costs for a French A-stage exam paper in 2018 for which markers penalized candidates who wrote in the correct words to reply a query, in preference to choosing a corresponding letter.
Ofqual said AQA’s initial marking procedure changed into not fit for purpose. AQA later presented higher grades to 135 candidates and contacted the Ucas admissions carrier to make certain college students did no longer leave out out on university places.
But Ofqual criticized AQA for describing its response as a goodwill gesture and stated the exam board had neglected a number of possibilities to accurate its mistakes.