Cambridge to review O/A level grading amid outcry

CAIE to announce its final verdict on August 18 after reviewing the matter

Our Correspondent August 15, 2020
Students believe Cambridge’s grade prediction system has inexplicably downgraded their qualifications. PHOTO: FILE


Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood on Saturday said the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) had agreed to review its grading procedures for the recent O/A level results following a massive outcry by thousands of Pakistani students who believe that their grades were unfair and discriminatory.

“As a result of our intervention conveying the anguish of our students, I have just heard that Cambridge has agreed to review its grading procedure regarding the recently declared results,” the minister tweeted.

He added that the CAIE would announce its final verdict on August 18 after reviewing the matter.

A day earlier, the minister tweeted that the government had taken up the matter with the CAIE.

“I want all students to know that we are very unhappy with the result of O and A level and have conveyed our reservations in no uncertain terms to Cambridge. We expect a response soon,” he said.

“We have no intentions of closing any foreign exams…the choice of what stream to take will always remain with the students,” he followed up in a separate tweet about updating the local education curriculum.

Around March, when the world was still trying to make sense of the global pandemic, the CAIE had announced suspending all its examinations due for the May/June 2020 series. Instead, after much ado, the largest foreign examination exercise had decided to adopt an alternative grade prediction system based on past performance and available evidence to issue certifications to registered candidates.

However, four months after the cancellation, thousands of Pakistani students are unhappy with their awarded qualifications.

They believe that Cambridge’s grade prediction system has inexplicably downgraded their qualifications, causing many to lose university placements and essential scholarships.

In a statement, the CAIE 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 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."

The CAIE said it would inform students on August 18 about the actions it would take.

Cambridge Deputy Country Manager Pakistan Shahid Ashraf told The Express Tribune that the CAIE had been listening to schools and students as they received their results and understood that some of them were disappointed.

“We are aware of decisions taken by some government authorities in the UK, and we await more information early next week about how they will be implemented. Grades must still be awarded consistently and trusted by universities,” he added. “Schools can make different sorts of appeals to us, and students can take our exams in October and November, with extra subjects available and alternative arrangements to support schools with distancing and safe reopening.”

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