The United Kingdom has made a U-turn over the system it used to award exam grades for students hoping to attend university. The government had decided on using a controversial algorithm to determine the grades of students who were unable to take exams due to COVID-19. The algorithm gave students results that were a grade or two lower than the results predicted by teachers. About 40 per cent of the final results were downgraded. The results hit the headlines as the scores for students who live in poorer areas were downgraded. Many of these students did not get into university as a result, despite not taking an exam. Scores for richer students attending private schools were higher than predicted.
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The algorithm turned into a scandal for the government as it was accused of favoring the rich. Parents and students were furious with the government for what they saw as gross incompetence and for ruining the future, dreams and aspirations of England's young people. One commentator said the algorithm was designed by the elite for the elite. In its latest U-turn, the government announced that grades will now be awarded based on the predictions of teachers. Gavin Williamson, the UK Education Secretary, said: "I am sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents but hope this announcement will now provide the certainty and reassurance they deserve."