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No, Pearson. 99.2% of your grades were not accurate

For many months now, the website of Pearson, the owners of the edexcel examination board, has been boasting that “99.2% of our grades were accurate on results day”, a claim Pearson have been using to boost their marketing. This claim is wrong. And it is amazing that Pearson have been allowed to continue this claim for so long, without being sanctioned by their regulator, Ofqual, an angry exam user, or indeed the Advertising Standards Authority. Especially so since the falsity was first identified in January 1918 by my friend and colleague, Rob Eastaway, in his blog How to Lie with Statistics, to which this blog is indeed indebted. In early December every year, Ofqual publish a series of doc

Biting the poisoned cherry - why the appeals process for school exams is so unfair

In principle, the exam appeals process should right inadvertent wrongs; in practice, the process is deeply unfair, as is the process by which the original grades were awarded. To explain why, imagine that you take a bite from one side of a cherry. A few moments later, you don’t feel so well. You fear that you might have been poisoned, but you’re not sure. You also think, but once again you’re not sure, that the other side of the cherry contains an antidote. What should you do? I think many people – myself included – would take that second bite. And quite possibly many people – myself included – would argue that I should not be denied access to the antidote, simply because I had taken the fir

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