Schools and colleges are being asked to provide a centre-assessment grade for each learner after cancelling exams due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Exams regulator Ofqual has said teachers should grade pupils based on "fair, objective and carefully considered" judgements of the results they believe each student would likely have obtained if tests had not been shelved.
The new system will affect approximately 1.5 million pupils studying for this year’s GCSEs, A-levels and AS-levels in England, as well as many in Wales. Details are still unclear for those taking BTec and vocational or technical qualifications at schools and colleges.
Under Ofqual’s system, schools will be asked to recommend a grade for pupils in each subject, and to “rank order” candidates within each grade. The assessments will be kept confidential and not shared with individual students.
Individual exam boards are due to contact schools and colleges after Easter to ask them to submit their judgements by a specific deadline.
Each candidate’s final grade will be assigned by the exam boards using a model under development by Ofqual.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary for England, said: “Despite the difficult circumstances we are facing, this guidance provides assurance to students, parents and schools that grades awarded this summer will accurately reflect students’ abilities and will be as valid this year as any other.”
Ofqual said it recognises that, given the timing of the announcement, schools and colleges may have “incomplete evidence”.
Ofqual’s announcement left questions that still require answers, including how appeals against final grades will be conducted and when students will have an opportunity to “re-sit” their exams next year.
Many pupils previously spoke of their frustrations, with some suggesting they believed poor relationships with teachers could affect their final mark.
Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier said: "School or college-based assessment already has an important role in many GCSEs, AS and A-levels, and in extraordinary circumstances such as these schools and colleges are best-placed to judge the likely performance of their students at the end of the course.
"We have worked closely with the teaching profession to ensure that what we are asking is both appropriate and manageable, so that everyone can have confidence in the approach."