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Our Quality Assurance process to check the accuracy of grades submitted by schools is a critical part of this year’s exam series and will ensure the value and integrity of the grades awarded to candidates in the November 2021 series. Our priorities remain the safety of staff and students and fair progression for candidates in their educational journey, and we want to work together with you to achieve the right outcome for students after a challenging academic year.
We appreciate that delivering results to students by results day will be demanding for schools and for us, and is creating concern for students and parents. This guidance on Quality Assurance will give you the information and help you need, and we ask for your help in making things run as smoothly as possible. If you follow our guidance carefully at the first Quality Assurance check, you will minimise the risk that we have to engage with you in further rounds of checks.
We know we can rely on every school leader and every teacher in Cambridge schools to approach this process with the highest degree of professionalism, consistency and care. With your help, we want to make sure your students and parents feel confident in the fairness of their results in January, and that Cambridge schools worldwide can continue to benefit from long-term trust in Cambridge qualifications. The Quality Assurance process is an important part of giving them that confidence and will help to minimise the number of post-result checks and appeals from students and parents to schools and to us.
All schools will be initially asked to send us information for at least one syllabus for which they are submitting school-assessed grades. This information will be the evidence they have used to determine grades for a sample of candidates, plus the Rationale Document for each of the syllabuses that we have selected. We will tell you the syllabuses and the candidates that we require for the Quality Assurance check. Schools will not be able to request that a different syllabus or different candidates are sampled.
If your school’s submission does not pass the initial Quality Assurance check, we will give you feedback, and we may request more evidence from you. We may also carry out Quality Assurance checks on other syllabuses from your school.
If your school’s submission does not pass subsequent Quality Assurance checks, we may adjust your candidates’ grades for the syllabus.
Your candidates’ results may be delayed if your school does not pass the Quality Assurance checks, if we do not receive necessary information by the dates we specify, or if our feedback is not acted on.
We will not be able to release your results until the Quality Assurance is complete.
Our Quality Assurance process begins as soon as a school has submitted their grades to us on the Grade Submission System, which schools can do from 18 October. You must familiarise yourselves with the dates (see below) by which we will need information from you for the Quality Assurance process.
To make this easier, we strongly advise that you save copies of the documents listed below in a place accessible to your Exams Officer. We recommend that you do this before you submit your school-assessed grades to us.
The table gives you an overview of all the steps of the Quality Assurance process.
We cannot give a specific final date by which we will contact you about the Quality Assurance process. The earlier you submit your school-assessed grades, the earlier we will be able to contact you to request supporting evidence as part of the Quality Assurance process. If you submit their grades for that syllabus early in the process and if there are no issues arising from the sampling process for your school, it is likely the Quality Assurance of your candidates’ grades will be completed very quickly. However, if we require further evidence from you, the process will take longer. If we have not contacted you for evidence for a specific syllabus by 1 December, then it is unlikely we will request evidence for that syllabus.
We will contact schools who have submitted school-assessed grades to us to tell you:
We will instruct you to upload the following to our portal for submitting evidence:
You must be available to upload this information to our portal for submitting evidence within 5 days from the date of request.
Our Assessment Specialists will review the information that you have sent to us: the evidence of the candidates’ work; the grades you awarded to each piece of evidence; and the Rationale Document for the syllabus. They will also review the overall school-assessed grades you submitted on the Grade Submission System.
Using this information, our Assessment Specialists will determine whether:
✔ If our Assessment Specialists judge the school-assessed grades to be reasonable, based on the level of performance in the evidence provided, we will not need to contact you again.
✖ If our Assessment Specialists find that the grades are not reasonable, based on the level of performance in the evidence provided, or the grades awarded for the pieces of evidence do not align with the school-assessed grades for the syllabus (i.e. final grades), or the process you have followed is not reasonable and consistent with our guidance, we will contact you to ask you to reconsider the grades you have given your candidates or address the concerns we have. You will then need to submit revised grades on our grade submission system.
Once you have submitted revised grades on our Grade Submission System, we will request further information from you which you will need to upload to our portal for submitting evidence. This may include further candidate evidence or checks of further syllabuses. You will need to have the appropriate staff available at this point to submit the information and evidence to us.
Once schools have reconsidered their candidates’ grades and submitted the required information to us, our Assessment Specialists will review the evidence again to determine whether the grades awarded by the school are now reasonable.
✔ We will not need to contact you again if our Assessment Specialists now judge the school-assessed grades to be reasonable. This means that our concerns about the grades and evidence you submitted have been addressed.
✖ If this review still finds that the grades are not reasonable, we will communicate this to the school, and we will adjust the candidates’ final grades.
10 January (Cambridge International AS & A Level)
18 January (Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge O Level)
Results will be released, provided that the school has completed and passed the Quality Assurance checks on time.
If the school or candidates want to dispute the grade issued on results day, this will go through our post-results and appeals processes.
We may have queries about the evidence you have submitted at any time ahead of the issue of results. These queries might include questions clarifying the contents of the Rationale Document for the syllabus or confirming that three pieces of evidence have been used to form a judgement. The Quality Assurance activity cannot be continued or completed until all queries are resolved.
When we contact you to send us information and evidence of students’ work for Quality Assurance, you will need to submit this to us using our Quality Assurance portal. You can access the portal by logging in through Direct.
Our walkthrough video below explains how to use the portal.
VIDEO: Using the Quality Assurance Portal
You can also find a step-by-step guide to each stage of the process here: Quality Assurance Portal User Guide (PDF, 1MB)
The Quality Assurance portal accepts a range of file types. The table below shows the file formats we can accept.
The portal can accept files that are up to 5GB in size or 15MB for image files. If you want to upload a file that is larger than the sizes above, you’ll need to reduce the file’s size. We recommend using HandBrake (PDF, 349KB) to reduce file sizes where necessary.
Visit our FAQs for more information.