Why the Algorithm is wrong
On the day of this article going live, Thursday 20th of August, thousands of GCSE students across the country, including myself, will be receiving their exam results. Since the start of lockdown, there has been plenty of faffing around about the results for not only the GCSE’s but also A-levels. Every year, students work tirelessly to try and achieve their best possible grade, and while we are not getting our fair chance to fight for our desired results, the least that the system can do for us is to give us what our teachers and our schools believe that we deserve.
Teachers are often the best indicators of a students level of understanding on a specific topic. Within the roughly four-two weeks a year that teachers spend at work, they spend, on average, 694 hours teaching. This time does not include time spent planning lessons, buying and readying resources and also marking school and homework. Considering the fact that teachers spend this much time focused on each students education, it’s safe to say that they are likely the best judge of each students level of understanding for the subject. As teachers, they oversee the work that every one of their pupils completes and therefore should be able to gauge the average standard of work. While teacher input was originally to be put into consideration and is now the sole point of reference for the grades, this changed throughout our time spent locked down.
When the government finally settled on a system for which the grades were to be decided in the UK, it was based on an algorithm. The idea to use the teachers given grades were pushed aside, as the government believe that teachers would favour their students and give them higher grades than they could have naturally achieved on their own. The algorithm also favoured some students more than others, namely students from higher class areas. Because of the high standards held by private schools, their grades for the previous three years would have been higher than those of public schools. The algorithm bases singular students grades on the previous performance of the school. This means that students from public schools with previously poor results, no matter their hard work, we’re likely to receive a lower level grade than a student from a private school.
Although the government have opted not to use this system after the outrage it caused among A-level students after the release of the results, it only occurred to them that the system was not fair after it had hurt people across the country.
Over one third, around 40%, of A-level students were downgraded using this faulty system. Many people throughout the UK were denied University places because of the lower grades and it was unfair to judge a person on the area they are from or what school they attended. Our areas may be part of who we are but they do not define everything about us. We are more than where we live or have lived.
Receiving results is a scary experience that affects our futures. As hard as we work in the past, we can never know what is going to be in that envelope in the future. The change in the way that the results are being decided is a step in making sure each and every one of us receives the results that we worked and studied for. We are one step closer to exactly what we deserve.