Research and analysis

Student-level equalities analyses for GCSE and A level

Report into the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on awarding of GCSE and A level qualifications in 2020.

Applies to England


Student-level equalities analyses for GCSE and A level

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This report examines whether the process of awarding grades to candidates in summer 2020 introduced bias in outcomes that can be attributed to their known protected characteristics or socio-economic status.

Our analyses focuses on comparing the effects seen using the different approaches to grading this year with the effects observed in previous years’ examinations.

For both GCSEs and A levels, the univariate analyses suggested that calculated grades would have more closely maintained the relationships between candidate characteristics and outcomes than do either centre assessment grades (CAGs) or final grades. The multivariate analyses are clear that, at both GCSE and A level, the most consistent and significant effect is an uplift in outcomes for all entries using CAGs and final grades, but not using calculated grades.

In conclusion, there is no evidence that either the calculated grades or the final grades awarded this year were systematically biased against candidates with protected characteristics or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Updates to this page

Published 26 November 2020

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