A Level students to get help

PETALING JAYA: Private higher education institutions (IPTS) are stepping up to help students unhappy with their recent A Level results.

UCSI College president and chief executive officer Dr Mabel Tan said they had written to Cambridge Assessment International Exams (Cambridge) to appeal and seek clarifications on the matter.“Some of our students should have obtained better grades based on their track records, capabilities and hard work.

“We want more transparency on how the predicted results were reached,” she said.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambridge cancelled sit-down final exams for the June 2020 series.

Instead, students were graded based on their work, mock exam results, teacher assessments and other factors.

This led to a petition on change.org – launched in the United Kingdom for Boris Johnson to intervene in what was perceived as a decision that puts students at a disadvantage, with up to a 33% downgrade of UK A Level and General Certificate of Secondary Education results.

The petition garnered 187,512 signatures as at 5pm yesterday.

Some 3,000 Malaysians received their results on Tuesday and like their global counterparts, many were left disappointed.

INTI International College Penang chief executive Hemalatha Murugiah said most students felt that the results were unfair and did not reflect their abilities.

“If the grades took into account the institution’s past performance, or the region or its location, it would be detrimental to certain groups of students,” she said, adding that students felt that their final grades did not reflect their mock exam results.

“Students who aren’t satisfied with their results may also not be able to appeal individually, but will need to ask institutions to appeal for their overall cohort,” she said.

Sunway Education Group CEO Elizabeth Lee said the final results appeared to be based on the students’ first semester results as it was the only stage of the whole exam process in which Cambridge has direct dealings.

“If final grades were given based on assessment of the respective institutions, it would be a very fair indication of the student’s academic abilities, promise and progress.

“This form of assessment is compatible with the results of an exam sitting,” she said, adding that local institutions would submit their own yearly result predictions to the exam board.

Lee said the move would allow Cambridge to have an accurate and realistic comparison of the actual results and the predictions done by the various institutions.

“An institution’s past reliability of predicted grades may have been taken into account for the recently announced results,” she said, adding that Sunway College had consistently achieved a 100% passing rate.

When contacted, Cambridge said Malaysian students registered to sit for a total of 11,000 entries or subjects this year.

“We only have information on the number of entries made by the schools, not the candidate numbers.”

If a candidate registers for three subjects, it is estimated that some 3,000 students took part in the June 2020 series of the exams.

Taylor’s College campus director Josephine Tan said they had submitted an appeal to Cambridge on behalf of their students to have their grades reviewed.

“Our University Placement Services is in touch with UK universities which have given conditional offers to our students based on their remarkable AS results earlier,” she said.

AS is the first semester exams for the pre-university studies.

“We understand that there have been much debate and commotion globally, surrounding the recent A Level results from evidenced-based assessment.

“Upon reviewing our own predicted grade, we are of the opinion that the reliability and validity of the moderated grade is questionable,” she said.

Separately, British Council said: “We appreciate that this is a difficult time for students in Malaysia who had intended to sit their Cambridge exams this summer and were unable to, in what has already been a complicated and stressful year.

“Cambridge International Assessment has published guidance on their website, which details the approach used to award grades to students, and is continuing to assess the support that is provided to students impacted by this decision.”

The guidelines can be found at www.cambridgeinternational.org/covid/parents-and-students.The British Council administers the A Level exams for some private candidates only.

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