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Cambridge International results: ‘Great news’ for students of O/A level in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood on Tuesday said Tuesday that the government’s efforts regarding the grading of recently declared Cambridge International results for O' and A' Levels have borne fruits.

“Great news. Our tireless effort has been successful,” announced the education minister on social media after an outcry from Pakistani students who felt they were unfairly graded.

“Cambridge has decided that grades for June 2020 would NOT BE LESS THAN PREFICTED GRADES SENT BY SCHOOLS. PLUS Where a grade issued last week was HIGHER THAN THE PREDICTED GRADE, THE HIGHER GRADE WILL STAND.”

The education minister had on Friday said that as a result of the government’s intervention the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) has agreed to review its grading procedure regarding the recently declared results.

He added that the Cambridge International will announce its final verdict on the matter after review on Tuesday.

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Cambridge International had cancelled its May/June 2020 series worldwide with the announcement to award certificates without exams.

The CAIE followed a four-step assessment mechanism which included teachers’ predicted grades, ranking order, school review/approval and standardisation. However, after the results were announced, students started raising concerns as they got grades against their expectations and previous performance.

In its statement issued on Friday, the Cambridge International said it had been listening to feedback and suggestions from schools and students and had been “looking carefully at how to act on it.”

“Since we released our results on August 11, we've been listening to the feedback and suggestions from our schools and students. We know schools have been pleased that we were able to provide grades in challenging circumstances,” it said.

It added, “We have also heard your concerns about some aspects of our process, and we understand the real anxieties Cambridge students are facing at the moment. We have been looking carefully at how to act on your feedback, and at the same time make sure schools, universities and employers continue to trust our qualifications."

"On Tuesday, August 18, we will let you know the actions we will take," it added.

UK govt U-turn over virus-hit exams

The British government was forced Monday to abandon its policy for grading exams that were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic after protests by students and warnings that it threatened the career prospects of the most disadvantaged pupils.

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England’s exam regulator said it would accept at face value assessments made by teachers in lieu of high school exams, abandoning a moderation process intended to avoid widespread grade inflation.

The publication of A-level results last week sparked outrage when it emerged that 39% of teachers’ assessments had been downgraded under an algorithm based on a school’s past performance.

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A-levels are key school-leaving exams for 18-year-olds.

Pupils took to the streets and threatened legal action, complaining the system made it harder for bright children in disadvantaged areas to do well, while rewarding mediocre students in private schools.

"To a lot of young people this really does feel like the government is saying ‘we don’t care about you’," 18-year-old Curtis Parfitt-Ford, who launched a petition and a legal challenge against the policy, told AFP.

As angry parents lobbied their MPs, opposition parties scented an opportunity, and increasing numbers of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative party called for a rethink.

The devolved governments in Scotland and Wales had already reverted to teachers’ assessments, putting pressure on England to follow suit — particularly with another key set of results, for GCSEs taken by 16-year-olds, due on Thursday.

Teachers had also raised concerns that schools would be tied up lodging appeals against results when they were trying to prepare to reopen fully in early September for the first time since the March lockdown.

Johnson’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson apologised for the handling of the process, saying he had decided to act after "unfairnesses" became clear.

"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."

The devolved government in Northern Ireland later announced it would also change its policy.


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