UK exams regulator sued by student after botched marks distribution

A lawsuit against the UK exams regulator has been filed challenging the awarding of marks to students. The regulators used algorithmic systems to reduce marks of over 40 students, predominantly from less privileged backgrounds.

Curtis Parfitt-Ford, 18, through the Good Law Project is suing the UK government and the exams regulator Ofqual to force them to come up with a better system to award marks. This comes after the exams regulators used algorithms that ended up reducing marks for a huge chunk of students.

Although teachers had been told to allocate marks to students, depending on how they viewed them, the exams regulators would later change these marks, after running them through a computer model. This model was found to be using data based on historical performances of school in order to determine if it should reduce the marks.

Exams regulator mistake

The computer system ended up changing the results of over 40 percent of students by lowering their marks. The system also ensured that the hardest-hit regions included the less privileged areas, whereas the grading had an insignificant impact on more affluent areas.

The lawsuit also pointed out how thousands of students had lost their fist choice schools due to the exams regulators’ decision to revise marks. Parfitt-Ford said that, even if the revision had not impacted him individually, since he was able to get all his marks A*A*AA, he could not sit around and watch as thousands of his peers went through pain caused by these revisions.


In a 22 page letter written to the exams regulator, Parfitt-Ford called out the algorithmic system for being irrational, arbitrary, fails to take account of relevant considerations. He also called the system illegal after considering all the factors that he had studied. He called on the exams regulator to acknowledge that their system had failed many students and change it to a more fairer nondiscriminatory system.

In one instance, a student, who is also part of the lawsuit, saw his grades changed from BBB to EEE. The shock of getting grades lowered by such a significant number has angered students and teachers alike and the Department of Education has come out to say that it understood there was a problem and it was looking at it.


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