AQA publishes findings of internal inquiry


The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) has published the findings of its internal inquiry into the marking issue that affected the 2010 summer examination series.

Summer 2010 saw the first extensive use of CMI+ technology (online marking) of exams with separate answer books, as opposed to combined question paper/answer books.

The purpose of the Internal Inquiry was to identify lessons that could be learned and make recommendations to prevent a recurrence.

The AQA identified a small number of candidate responses that had not been fully marked, which meant that 622 out of approximately 1.5 million students received lower subject grades than they should have.

The main findings included:

  • There was a lack of solid project management during development, pilot and roll-out phases of the CMI+ technology project.
  • The small-scale pilots undertaken in June 2009 and Jan 2010 were not effective enough in terms of allowing AQA to predict marking issues that might arise on scaling up the operation.
  • The transition from pilot to first-phase implementation lacked a sufficiently thorough assessment of potential risk factors and actions needed to manage the risks identified.
  • Examiner training did not thoroughly enough address the issues specific to marking scripts for units that use separate answer books.

 As a result of these findings, the AQA has taken steps to implemented an action plan which include:

  • Strengthening the process to include a four stage check of scripts during the marking process.
  • Implementing robust project and risk management processes to introduce greater rigour into systems.
  • Scaling back the volume of scripts marked online that use separate answer books, while we gain further experience.
  • Improving the quality of communication with all our examiners, including training materials.

 AQA’s Chief Executive, Andrew Hall, said: “We deeply regret the original marking issue and are determined to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“We have conducted a thorough internal review which was presented to our Council, who share my enthusiasm for publishing it. There has been no hiding place for any errors, or shortcomings, on our part. We have learnt valuable lessons – sometimes hard ones – but I have no hesitation in publishing these."

Ofqual will be publishing its own report in due course.

December 2010

School Leadership Today