Here’s our statement in response to September 2012 press reports on the subject of GCSE English grade boundaries.
A spokesperson for Pearson said:
“The letters which have been leaked to the press today reflect a moment in time during extensive discussions with the regulator this summer. Following these we went on to make a decision on grade boundaries for English GCSE, which we consider fair to learners and which we stand by as right.
“We understand that the ongoing debate is unsettling to students and we want to give reassurance that we have done everything in our power to represent their interests.
“In setting grade boundaries, our responsibilities are two-fold. First, to maintain standards year-on-year for our qualifications, so that similar candidate performance is rewarded comparably over time. Second, to work with Ofqual and other awarding organisations to ensure a nationally-maintained standard, so that students of different cohorts and different awarding organisations are treated comparably.
“We have been consistent in stating that grade boundaries for Edexcel GCSE English this year were the subject of lengthy discussion both with Ofqual and the other awarding organisations. With the introduction of new specifications, all awarding organisations needed to make changes to their January boundaries for June to ensure standards were maintained year on year. We also considered reissuing grades for students who took units in January.
“The letters which have emerged in the press and have been discussed in select committee today are part of that discussion.
“At the time these letters were issued, other awarding organisations had already taken decisions on changes to their grade boundaries and had those decisions accepted by Ofqual. Given the relatively small number of students who take English with Edexcel, the grade boundary decisions of other awarding organisations have a larger impact on national results than our own.
“We felt that the original grade boundary changes suggested by Ofqual, based on prediction data and the decisions of other awarding organisations, would not enable us to adequately reflect student work in their grades. After extensive discussion with Ofqual we agreed a June grade boundary which took account of our concerns to recognise the candidate performance our examiners observed. This reported results slightly above original Ofqual predictions.
“We are therefore satisfied that the final grade boundary we set for June enabled us to fairly reward learners as well as uphold the standard of the GCSE.
“The letters which have emerged in the press give a partial picture of the discussions between Edexcel and Ofqual. We therefore feel it is important to publish the full set of letters in order to give a full picture of what was agreed.”