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Bias alarm for BAME students due to exams cancellation

The exams regulator in the UK, Ofqual warns about the possibility of unconscious bias, as A- level and GCSE students are awarded grades after their exams when the lockdown started.

The Department for Education stresses that the government is working to make sure the summer assessments will guarantee students with a fair reward.

Ofqual highlights a concerning but familiar truth: students from underprivileged backgrounds are more disposed to have their grades under-predicted.

A letter to the Ministry of Education signed by a professional assembly of scholars and initiated by the “Runnymede Trust”, a race equality think-tank, emphasises teachers' concerns that black and minority ethnic (BAME) students are disproportionately disadvantaged by any bias.

The letter incites the government to take actions to ensure that college students from lower socio-economic backgrounds have the same chances to attend particularly selective universities as their other counterparts.

“We’re concerned about the longstanding ramifications and we’re anxious that a potential gross injustice might happen,” says the Runnymede Trust’s deputy director Zubaida Haque.

He continues saying that if extra financial support, particularly equality influence assessments, does not emerge within the estimated grading system, then there will be a consequent long-lasting impact on the new generation.

It should be undoubted that the fairness of standardised exams is equally accessible to every pupil who is working to reach the same objective of their peers without having to combat any bias on the part of the lecturers, but unfortunately, this is still not so obvious.

The Runnymede Trust mentions an analysis made by Dr Gill Wynass -Senior Lecturer in Economics of Education at UCL, London- and published in 2017 that discovered that most A-grade estimations by professors were incorrect. The mainstream grades were hugely over predicted.

Within the college student’s context, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds tended to have more under-predicted grades than students of comparable skills but from additional privileged backgrounds.

An Ofqual spokesperson told by Sky News: "We are alerted by the concerns that unconscious bias might influence the grades schools and colleges may have expected their students to get in the exams and assessments, and we have distinctly published a literature research review about bias in teacher evaluations.”

He goes on explaining that the Schooling secretary is consulting on how to implement the extraordinary arrangements for this summer that this pandemic brought, in order to acknowledge any equality impact to be aware of any possible issue.

Finally, he reinforced the prospect for non-discriminatory but objective evaluations saying: "Our meeting includes a standardisation model to deliver further precautions to this matter and to make sure students are not favoured or unfavoured by this method."

Hopefully, truth, objectiveness, and hard work will not be obstructed by social class, race, and discrimination that seem still to be held dear in the 21st Century.

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