Following the announcement from Ofqual on severe grading in A-level Modern Foreign Languages, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the Association for Language Learning (ALL), the Independent Schools Modern Languages Association (ISMLA) and the National Association of Language Advisers (NALA) have released the following joint statement:

Key points:

  • We are disappointed with today’s announcement from Ofqual that they do not intend to make a one-off adjustment to the grading of A-level French, German and Spanish (A-level MFL) to deal with the severe grading and the resulting consequences for students and the community as a whole.
  • We do however recognise the importance of their decision to accept that there is severe grading and that some action should be taken.
  • We also welcome the thoroughness of the research and the establishing of clear criteria, which can then be used to make a judgment about possible action.
  • Ofqual have already committed to examine the issue of severe grading at GCSE French, German and Spanish with a programme of work underway. In our view, looking at the approach taken for A-level, the evidence will be overwhelming at GCSE to make a one-off adjustment in time for the Summer 2020 results.

Further information:

Action to be taken in light of severe grading at A-level:
Ofqual have recognised that there is severe grading at A-level MFL, and we support their proposals to ensure that it does not worsen through technical approaches to tolerances at the time of setting grade boundaries.

Wide consensus of support:
There is strong evidence of support for action across the MFL community including Higher Education. This widespread recognition of the issue is evidence of the importance of the issue and the damaging impact severe grading has at both A-level and GCSE.

Action already taken by Ofqual at A-level MFL:
We also recognise that Ofqual have already taken steps to deal with severe grading at A-level. Specifically, an ongoing technical adjustment was made in 2015 to deal with an anomaly in the percentage of A* grades relative to the total of A* and A so as to bring A-level MFL into line with other facilitating subjects. There was also an ongoing adjustment in 2017 to recognise the increasing relative impact of native speakers as the number of non-native speakers taking the exam dropped, so as to ensure that non-native speakers were not disadvantaged.

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