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EDITIONS
Friday, 4 October, 2002, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
A-level re-grading scaled down
A-level exam
The crisis was sparked by complaints about OCR
The exam board at the centre of the controversy over A-level grades says it is not going to reconsider 34 of the 97 exam units about which an independent inquiry had raised concerns.


In some cases, the change to the grading of a single unit may have no effect on the overall A-level grade

Mike Tomlinson

The units that are being checked cover 18 subjects and were taken by more than 91,000 candidates with the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations board (OCR).

They include 11 English literature and psychology units not fingered by Mike Tomlinson's inquiry, but which OCR volunteered to review because it had had so many complaints about them.

Panels made up of OCR examiners - but with independent observers - will now re-grade the units.

If they come up with grades that are higher than those issued this summer, students will have their unit results altered - which in some cases might mean their overall A-levels being upgraded.

Other boards

Earlier, the Edexcel board said that only one boundary in each of two of its A2 units - in French and Spanish - might now be involved in the re-grading exercise.

The finger of suspicion had also been pointed at its Arabic, modern Greek and information and communication technology (ICT) papers.

Edexcel said its decision left just 164 candidates potentially affected.

The other board involved, AQA, says one boundary in each of two of its units might be re-graded - in English literature and language and in French - involving 341 candidates.

So the OCR board has the lion's share of the potential re-grading.

It has been less specific about the boundaries and therefore the number of students involved.

The AS and A2 units still in its review were taken by 91,545 candidates altogether (about 29% of OCR's entry) in 2,508 schools and colleges (about 80% of OCR's exam centres).

The 18 subjects involved are accounting, chemistry A, economics, English literature, French, geography A, geography B, German, government and politics, history, Latin, media studies, music, physical education, physics B, psychology, science and Spanish.

Four have been dropped: art, classical Greek, computing and electronics.

How it works

OCR's decision is the outcome of the first part of the two-stage review process set in train on Wednesday by Mr Tomlinson, the former chief inspector of England's schools who was asked to investigate the A-level grades fiasco.

He had identified 104 units - written papers, orals or coursework - in which exam boards' chief executives had moved the boundaries between grades this summer by more than was normal, in effect making it harder to get good grades.

This covered 26 different subjects.

The units might be re-graded by a special panel for each subject within each board, which would include an independent observer.

But this would happen only if an initial test was met.

This was that each exam board's top examiner for the subject concerned had been "fully content" at the time with what the chief executive had done.

Possibly no change

OCR said on Friday afternoon that its chairs of examiners had now reviewed the changes made to their recommendations.

As a result, 74 units were going into the re-grading stage of the process - 63 from Mr Tomlinson's list plus 11 from the two subjects it chose to include.

"It should be noted that this process may result in no change to grade boundaries for some of the units in question," Mr Tomlinson said on Wednesday.

"I should also say that in some cases, the change to the grading of a single unit may have no effect on the overall A-level grade," Mr Tomlinson said.

"So there may be circumstances in which unit grade boundaries and grades are changed, but some students' overall A-level grade nevertheless remains unchanged."

The deadline for the re-grading is 15 October.


This is the list of subjects and units which the three exam boards are reviewing:

OCR
Accounting
2503
2505
Chemistry A
2815/4
2815/6
Economics
2885
2888
English Literature
2709
2711
2712
2713
French
2654/1
2654/3
2655
2657
Geography A
2683
2684
2685
2686
Geography B
2690
2691
2692
German
2664/1
2664/3
2667
Government & Politics
2694
2695
2696
2697
2698
2699
History
2587
2588
2589
2590
2591
2592
2593
Latin
2471
2472
2473
2474
2475
2476
2477
2478
2479
2480
Media Studies
2733
Music
2550
2551
2552
2553
2554
2555
Physical Education
2567
Physics B
2862
2863/1
2864/1
2865
Psychology
2543
2544
2545
2546
2547
2548
2549
Science
2846/2
Spanish
2671/1
2671/2
2671/3
2674/1
2674/3
2675
2677

AQA
English Literature and Language
NTA5
French
FR6T/V

Edexcel
French
6444(2)
Spanish
6816

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sarah Morris
"With term now well underway there could be upheavals"
Mike Tomlinson, A-Level Inquiry chairman
"There are just over 90,000 candidates who will have their work re-examined"
NUS vice-president of education Chris Weavers
"We are surprised at the size of this"
BBC News Online education editor Gary Eason
"We now know how many are affected"
The alleged A-level grades manipulation

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TOMLINSON INQUIRY

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03 Oct 02 | Education
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