Incident 374: UK Ofqual's Algorithm Disproportionately Provided Lower Grades Than Teachers' Assessments

Description: UK Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)'s grade-standardization algorithm providing predicted grades for A level and GCSE qualifications in the UK, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland was reportedly giving grades lower than teachers' assessments, and disproportionately for state schools.


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Khoa Lam
Controversial exams algorithm to set 97% of GCSE results · 2020

Nearly 5 million GCSEs will this week be awarded using a controversial model which education experts fear could lead to even more results being downgraded than in last week’s A-levels fiasco.

According to analysis shared with the Observer, …

A-levels and GCSEs: How did the exam algorithm work? · 2020

GCSE students in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are receiving results based on teacher assessments, after a last-minute change to the system.

They were originally due to receive marks worked out in a mathematical model, or algorithm, b…

UK ditches exam results generated by biased algorithm after student protests · 2020

The UK has said that students in England and Wales will no longer receive exam results based on a controversial algorithm after accusations that the system was biased against students from poorer backgrounds, Reuters and BBC News report. T…

Ofqual ignored exams warning a month ago amid ministers' pressure · 2020

Ofqual was warned at least a month ago of flaws in the exams algorithm that left thousands of students devastated, but the regulator pressed ahead amid longstanding ministerial pressure to prevent grade inflation, the Guardian understands.

Ofqual chief to face MPs over exams fiasco and botched algorithm grading · 2020

Ofqual’s chief executive, Sally Collier, is expected to be hauled before MPs early next month to face questions about the exams fiasco, it has emerged.

Collier has made no public appearance or statement since the exams regulator announced i…

Ofqual's A-level algorithm: why did it fail to make the grade? · 2020

For such a short string of algebraic symbols, there is a lot we can learn from Ofqual’s grading algorithm (though really it is an equation) – and a lot we can learn about what went wrong.

First and most obviously, the size of the algorithm …

How a computer algorithm caused a grading crisis in British schools · 2020

Gavin Williamson, U.K. defence secretary, arrives for a weekly meeting of cabinet ministers at number 10 Downing Street in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Britain is in the throes of a nationwide grading debacle after an automated…

The Algorithmic Imprint · 2022

When algorithmic harms emerge, a reasonable response is to stop using the algorithm to resolve concerns related to fairness, accountability, transparency, and ethics (FATE). However, just because an algorithm is removed does not imply its F…


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.

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