A-Level Grades: Algorithm's Results that Downgraded Students' Scores Likely to be Reversed

Students across U.K. are up in arms against Ofqual's algorithm and accuse the Johnson government of favoring the rich

After mounting anger and criticism due to the downgraded Advanced Levels (A Levels) of several students, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is likely to reverse the decision. The development came as over 40 percent of the students' results were negatively impacted due to a controversial algorithm.

Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, exams were canceled in the country and the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation's (Ofqual) algorithm had to give grades to the students based on two main criteria. The criteria was estimated A-Level scores given by teachers and their school's historical performance in exams in recent years.

Johnson Government Accused of Favoring Rich

Students across the country protested against Ofqual and accused the Johnson government of favoring the rich. However, following the rising criticism, Johnson reportedly spoke to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and other senior officials.

A Level protests

The government was likely to reverse its decision and give the students the grades that were estimated by their teachers, a source told the Times. It remained unclear about when the decision will be overturned but the source said that it would be done "as soon as possible".

A-Level Algorithm Explained:

After the results were declared last week, it was found that the grades of the students from public schools were negatively impacted by the algorithm. Students and critics said it unfairly favored private school students. The difference was mainly because public schools' performance in exams in recent years was not as high as that of the private schools that had smaller class sizes. This meant that even if a brilliant student from a public school would have scored well in the exams, his or her A-Levels would be downgraded because of the school's poor or average performance in the past.

Several of the students who were given estimated high grades for A Levels saw their results being downgraded due to the algorithm. This resulted in chaos, anger and criticism among the students who said their dreams of going to top universities were shattered due to their downgraded results.

"How is it that all the grades at independent and private schools have gone up and lower-attaining schools have gone down? It's not a standardization, it's a classist algorithm," said student Nina Bunting-Mitcham, whose downgraded result failed to get her a seat at the Royal Veterinary College. Experts told the New Statesman that if the government failed to decide over the matter, the students were within their rights to challenge the results in court.