Amidst the continuing concern about the decline in numbers studying A/L and GCSE Modern Languages, and the serious impact of severe grading, one positive step has emerged with the correction being applied to grading this year to take account of the impact of native speakers.
On Ofqual's page for the AS and A level results for England 2017
one of their 3 Key Points is:
3. In A level French, German and Spanish, outcomes at grades A* and A are up following an agreement with exam boards to make an adjustment to take account of native speakers in these languages.
So the percentage of candidates gaining grades A and A* has risen from 2016 to 2017 in all 3 of those languages: French 37.3% to 39.0%; German 39.6% to 41.4% and Spanish from 34.4% to 36.9%
This adjustment is in addition to the highly technical correction made last year to redress the incorrectly low (ever since the introduction of A* grade in 2010) percentage of candidates gaining an A* grade. The proportion of A* grades relative to the number of A and A* grades in total is now around 26% meaning that ML candidates are being treated comparably to other "facilitating" arts subjects such as History.
Both of these adjustments have been made by Ofqual following research undertaken after joint representations by ALL (Association for Language Learning), ISMLA (Independent Schools Modern Language Association), ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders) and HMC (the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference).
All 4 organisations recently wrote a Joint Letter to Ofqual welcoming the action they proposed to take this year regarding grading at AL ML this year linked to the issue of native speakers, as they did to the action taken effective in June 2016 to address the anomalies in the proportion of A* grades in A/L ML.
They also welcomed the offer of further work to address grading issues in A level ML, but expressed their deep disappointment that Ofqual's announcement about inter-subject comparability (ISC) does not address the issue of severe grading at GCSE.
Joint Council for Qualifications: Press release and full Results: https://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels/2017
Department for Education: Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb congratulates students on A level results day
Ofqual Guide to AS and A level results for England, 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/guide-to-as-and-a-level-results-for-england-2017
Guardian: Grades will be fair, UK exam regulator tells A-level students https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/aug/17/a-level-grades-will-be-fair-uk-exam-regulator-tells-students?CMP=share_btn_tw
Evening Standard: A-level language marks improve after criticism exams were too hard for non-native speakers
The Telegraph: Number of top grades awarded in language A-levels increases amid decline in students taking French and German
TES : Foreign languages set for less ‘harsh grading’
ALL London: How do grades in languages compare with grades in other subjects? http://www.all-london.org.uk/archive/severe_grading.htm