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Ofqual has today (21 April 2017) announced that it will take action this summer to ensure standards are set appropriately in A level French, German and Spanish.

The decision stems from new research, published by the regulator today, which suggests that awarding should take into account the fact that native language speakers take these subjects. The adjustment to grade standards will be decided in early summer. If the ability of the cohorts is similar to previous years we would anticipate small increases in the proportion of students getting top grades in each subject this August.

The regulator said that further changes to grade standards in these, and other subjects, may be considered if there is a ‘compelling case’ consistent with its policy decision on inter-subject comparability, also announced today. Ofqual has decided that the challenges apparent in conceptualising and measuring how subjects may compare means that it will not try to take coordinated action to align grade standards across the full range of GCSE or A level subjects. This decision follows more than a year of public discussion and debate about a number of potential policy options. However, the regulator will consider making one-off adjustments to standards where there is a compelling case. Ofqual has already begun conversations with subject communities in relation to A levels in physics, chemistry and biology, as well as MFL.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Sally Collier, Chief Regulator, Ofqual, said:

Everybody expects that grade standards between exam boards in any particular subject should be comparable. However, inter-subject comparability is more difficult to consider. We are extremely grateful to the stakeholders who have offered their opinions and the many researchers who have helped us reach our policy decision. It, combined with the actions we are taking this summer specifically in relation to A level languages, will mean we are better placed than ever to ensure standards in GCSEs, AS and A levels are appropriate.

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