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IB Results Day – Tomorrow we will know whether the IB is going to tackle grade inflation. If it does, it is students that will pay a very heavy, and unfair, price.
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IB Results Day Background 2022

Tomorrow, on Tuesday 5th July 2022 – it’s IB Results day for International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme students across the UAE. On 5 July 2022, from 12.00 noon GMT, around 170,000 Diploma Programme and Career Programme students worldwide received their May 2022 examination session results. All students can access results via the IB’s candidate results website on 6 July 2022 – IB Results Day ‘proper’.

This year, as for the last two years, results have been (or if promises are to be honoured, should have been) moderated to reflect the challenges of Covid-19 both locally and globally. Results for students who have sat examinations, and those who have not, will, according to the IB, see their results moderated to reflect the challenges that they have faced over the last two years:

“Acknowledging the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing disruption to education, the IB has made adaptations to help address the challenges caused by the pandemic, including adjustments to assessment, which have been extended to examinations in 2022.

The IB also developed a procedure to award grades without written examinations as a contingency measure for the circumstances that prevented the administration of exams.”

“We are also conscious that the pandemic [has] been experienced in different ways by students in different countries and regions. We [have] consequently used grade boundaries to mitigate the impact of these distinctive experiences.”

IB. 2022.

The IB issued their note to parents, schools and students this year to provide context for their decisions and assurance that this year’s results have been issued in a spirit of compassion and fairness:

m22-letter-to-support-students-and-their-families-en

The general principle has been:

Kings_Interhigh_MPU5

“IB World Schools [have done] everything possible to keep schools open safely and offer IB exams. The IB strongly believes that students sitting examinations wherever possible is the best method to assess student capability.

We also recognize that there will be circumstances that prevent the administration of exams. Where this happens, the IB [has used] processes that we have refined over the course of the pandemic to award grades without exams.

In addition, during the grade-awarding process, appropriate grade boundaries will be set to account for the disruption to education.”

IB. On May 2022 Examinations.

Grade inflation impacts on IB Results 2022

Grade inflation is seen as a natural, and fair, consequence of Covid-19. In 2021, around ten times more students globally secured top marks in the IB over students results in 2020.

IB Results grade inflation 2017 - 2021

Overall the benchmark for this year’s results is set by the overall 2021 grade achievements of students:

IB Results 2021 sets the benchmark to understand grade inflation in 2022

The number of candidates for the May 2021 session was 170,660 – and out of 170,660 students, 104,275 were in the non-exam route and 65,576 in the exam route. 809 students were split between both routes. Key metrics were:

  • The average diploma score for the May 2021 session was 33.02 points, up from 31.34 in May 2020;
  • The number of students achieving 40-45 points in May 2021 was 15,513, up from 9,701 in May 2020;
  • The average diploma grade in May 2021 was 5.19, up from 4.95 in May 2020;
  • The Diploma pass rate in May 2021 was 88.96%, up from 85.18% in May 2020.

The fundamental issue, however, is not grade inflation in itself, but, rather, its impacts. The right wing press gets itself in a lather over grade inflation – but in truth we should be looking at its impacts to decide whether it actually matters.

 

So what exactly are these impacts?

These impacts include overloading of the university system globally. In the UK, for example, many students in 2021 were encouraged to defer their entry by a year to help manage this – and the impact has been fewer places available in 2022 as last year’s student’s take up their places. In turn, many universities have raised their admission grade thresholds for competitive courses in 2022, partly to help manage a lower number of available places, and partly to recognise the ongoing impacts of likely grade inflation during the “Covid Years” which include examinations this year.

The relative strength in grades achieved by students in the Covid years does not, however, at least in our view, impact the credibility of the IB qualification. Nor too, ultimately, should the higher grades achieved by students during the Covid years work to their benefit in the eyes of employers who will ultimately, in the cases of graduates, be looking at the choice of degree and award achieved. The IB is, in the vast majority of cases, a pre-university qualifier.

Practically, for students who are planning to attend UK universities and secure the results required by their chosen university, their chosen university will be notified automatically and places will be awarded seamlessly. UCAS will update its track system to confirm your place. For other students, alternative options will come on stream through clearing between 5th July and 19th October. Bear in mind that the competition for places this year is extremely high and advice is to act swiftly and definitively if you secure an offer or acceptance.

 

What does all this mean for UAE IB schools and students?

In the next few weeks we will be analysing the 2022 results to understand the degree to which the IB is allowing grade inflation to persist in 2022. Were the IB to seek to return result boundaries to pre-pandemic levels, the impact on many students could be catastrophic. Fortunately, the noises issues by the IB strongly suggest this is not a route that will be followed in 2022.

If, however, the IB does, despite its many assurances, seek to rectify grade inflation this year, the impact on students in many IB schools in the UAE could be severe. Students are facing undue competition this year for places – and often against students from last year. If the IB goes in hard on inflation, this year’s students will have the rugs pulled from beneath them.

There would also be completely unfair fallout on our IB schools. Quite correctly, UAE IB schools in 2021 fought for their students to ensure that they achieved highly in a climate where their life chances were at stake and the interruptions and impacts of Covid 19 meant that no students arguably had a fair shot.

If the IB does seek to pull back from its promised generous approach to the awarding of results, we can expect fireworks tomorrow and and on IB Results Day proper on Wednesday.

If the IB chooses to come down hard, many will point to the disparity in results this year, compared with last year, to attack UAE IB schools for inflating grades in 2021. They will say that the schools deliberately mislead. Our IB schools will become the whipping boys for those die hard ideologues and fanatics who put consistency of results over the needs of students. We do not think this is fair, reasonable or helpful.

Attacking schools for putting students first would in our view be ethically bankrupt. 

If it happens, our advice is to not listen.

Let’s all hope that tomorrow the IB keeps to its word to be fair and generous. There is enough time in future years to make adjustments. We do not need them now.

Watch this space.

[To find out what the IB eventually did with grade inflation in 2022, click here.]

© SchoolsCompared.com. 2022. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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