Real world imitating art. The case of the algorithm determining school grades in the UK

The scandal which developed around the use of an algorithm biassed to discriminate against poor students in the UK this year, is an interesting if depressing example of life imitating art. Well, technology rather than life, though presumably it is human beings which make the algorithm what it is. The idea was to avoid lotteries for university entrance, and I suppose the establishment wished to avoid that because lotteries would give poor students from the wrong parts of the UK an equal chance to be lucky. What rich parent would want little Johnny facing that?

The Guardian today:

Student who wrote story about biased algorithm has results downgraded
Jessica Johnson, who won Orwell youth prize for dystopian tale, hopes U-turn will restore university place

Her story is here:

One thought on “Real world imitating art. The case of the algorithm determining school grades in the UK

  1. Hi Cathy! I read this story and I did indeed find it shocking. The problems with fair admissions to elite schools (or, indeed, to any sort of secondary education) are long-standing but have really been exacerbated by the pandemic. I don’t really understand the whole U.K. and commonwealth systems; in the U.S. the controversy over fair admissions BEFORE the pandemic has centered on standardized tests for college and graduate school that many claim are culturally biased. As far as I’m aware, however, there’s been no use of an algorithm; instead, the response has been to wave admission tests for this year at least.

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