New trends in testing: A levels go gender neutral

Published in:  Tests and Assessments

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village

As of this summer, students who do not identify as either male or female can request that these classifications be removed for exams. EdExcel, owned by Pearson, is the first major exam board to have made changes to accommodate non-binary pupils. According to the Telegraph, OCR and AQA are also examining their systems to see whether similar changes can be made. Information about students’ gender allows exam boards to examine trends over time, e.g. whether boys or girls have the top grades, and how many girls are taking STEM subjects compared to boys. The article reports that the Joint Council for Qualifications, representing the UK’s major exam boards, is not concerned about the gender neutral option as it believes the numbers will be low and not statistically significant. In the meantime, some academic institutions are taking initiatives to encourage greater inclusivity: Edinburgh University student union officials, during the “Welcome Week”, before the start of the new term, handed out pronoun badges to freshers so they know whether to refer to each other as “he”, “she” or “they”. The students’ union also published a guide to pronouns.

See also our blog entry on non-binary measures of gender in surveys @