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UK ditches exam results generated by biased algorithm after student protests

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The UK has said that students in England and Wales will no longer receive exam results based on a controversial algorithm after accusations that the system was biased against students from poorer backgrounds, Reuters and BBC News report. The announcement followed a weekend of demonstrations at which protesters chanted “fuck the algorithm” outside the country’s Department for Education.

Instead, students will receive grades based on their teachers’ estimates after formal exams were canceled due to the pandemic. The announcement follows a similar U-turn in Scotland, which had previously seen 125,000 results downgraded.

In the UK, A-levels are the set of exams taken by students around the age of 18. They’re the final exams taken before university, and they have a huge impact on which institution students attend. Universities make offers based on students’ predicted A-level grades, and usually, a student will have to achieve certain grades to secure their place.

In other words: it’s a stressful time of year for students, even before the country’s exam regulator used a controversial algorithm to estimate their grades.

As the BBC explains, the UK’s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) relied primarily on two pieces of information to calculate grades: the ranking of students within a school and their school’s historical performance. The system was designed to generate what are, on a national level, broadly similar results to previous years. Overall, that’s what the algorithm accomplished, with The Guardian reporting that overall results are up compared to previous years, but only slightly. (The percentage of students achieving an A* to C based on the algorithm’s grading rose by 2.4 percent compared to last year.)

But it’s also led to thousands of grades being lowered from teachers’ estimations: 35.6 percent of grades were adjusted down by a single grade, while 3.3 percent went down by two grades, and 0.2 went down by three. That means a total of almost 40 percent of results were downgraded. That’s life-changing news for anyone who needed to achieve their predicted grades to secure their place at the university of choice.

Worse still, data suggests that fee-paying private schools (also known as “independent schools”) disproportionately benefited from the algorithm used. These schools saw the amount of grades A and above increase by 4.7 percent compared to last year, Sky News reports. Meanwhile, state-funded “comprehensive” schools saw an increase of less than half that: 2 percent.

There is a variety of factors that seem to have biased the algorithm. One theory put forward by FFT Education Datalab is that Ofqual’s approach varied depending on how many students took a given subject, and this decision seems to have led to fewer grades getting degraded at independent schools, which tend to enter fewer students per subject. The Guardian also points out that what it calls a “shockingly unfair” system was happy to boost the number of “U” grades (aka, fails) and round down the amount of A* grades, while one university lecturer has pointed out other failings in the regulator’s approach.

Fundamentally, however, because the algorithm placed so much importance on a school’s historical performance, it was always going to cause more problems for high-performing students at underperforming schools, where the individual’s work would be lost in the statistics. Average students at better schools, meanwhile, seem to have been treated with more leniency. Part of the reason the results have caused so much anger is that this outcome reflects what many see as the wider biases of the UK’s education system.

The government’s decision to ignore the algorithmically determined grades will be welcome news to many, but even using teachers’ predictions comes with its own problems. As Wired notes, some studies have suggested such predictions can suffer from racial biases of their own. One study from 2009 found that Pakistani pupils were predicted a lower score (62.9 percent) more than their white counterparts in one set of English exams and that results for boys from Black and Caribbean backgrounds can spike when they’re assessed anonymously starting from age 16.

Source : TheVergeRead More

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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