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A tale of two algorithms: The appeal and repeal of calculated grades systems in England and Ireland in 2020

A tale of two algorithms: The appeal and repeal of calculated grades systems in England and Ireland in 2020
A tale of two algorithms: The appeal and repeal of calculated grades systems in England and Ireland in 2020

The Covid pandemic and the cancellation of state examinations caused unprecedented turmoil in the education systems on both sides of the Irish Sea. As the policy of calculating grades using purpose-built algorithms came undone in the face of a barrage of appeal, protest and legal action, the context in which the policies had been devised collapsed. The British and Irish governments had initially adopted similar approaches to issuing examination grades, but then diverged into different stratagems pre- and post-results, with significantly different outcomes. The Irish examination system emerged relatively unscathed, while the system in England suffered what was probably its greatest policy failure of modern times. This article examines and memorialises how and why this happened, and draws lessons for a future in which school closures and substitute examinations become the ‘new normal’.

examinations, international context, learning outcomes, national outcomes, policy, political economic and cultural contexts
0141-1926
725-741
Kelly, Anthony
1facbd39-0f75-49ee-9d58-d56b74c6debd
Kelly, Anthony
1facbd39-0f75-49ee-9d58-d56b74c6debd

Kelly, Anthony (2021) A tale of two algorithms: The appeal and repeal of calculated grades systems in England and Ireland in 2020. British Educational Research Journal, 47 (3), 725-741. (doi:10.1002/berj.3705).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Covid pandemic and the cancellation of state examinations caused unprecedented turmoil in the education systems on both sides of the Irish Sea. As the policy of calculating grades using purpose-built algorithms came undone in the face of a barrage of appeal, protest and legal action, the context in which the policies had been devised collapsed. The British and Irish governments had initially adopted similar approaches to issuing examination grades, but then diverged into different stratagems pre- and post-results, with significantly different outcomes. The Irish examination system emerged relatively unscathed, while the system in England suffered what was probably its greatest policy failure of modern times. This article examines and memorialises how and why this happened, and draws lessons for a future in which school closures and substitute examinations become the ‘new normal’.

Text
A Tale of Two Algorithms - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 15 August 2022.
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 9 February 2021
e-pub ahead of print date: 15 February 2021
Published date: June 2021
Additional Information: Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Author. British Educational Research Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Educational Research Association.
Keywords: examinations, international context, learning outcomes, national outcomes, policy, political economic and cultural contexts

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 447971
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/447971
ISSN: 0141-1926
PURE UUID: 38b66fe8-8071-46fa-8a85-69c46457f9b1
ORCID for Anthony Kelly: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4664-8585

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 29 Mar 2021 16:31
Last modified: 28 Jun 2022 01:39

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