Backlash as IB algorithm lowers student grades

Occurred: July 2020

Results showing markedly lower grades for students taking the 2020 International Baccalaureate (IB) prompted accusations of unfairness, discrimination, and poor transparency and accountability.

Following the cancellation of IB exams after the outbreak of COVID-19, the International Baccalaureate Organisation used a combination of teacher predicted grades, historic data, and students’ coursework to calculate grades for 175,000 IB students across the world.

The results prompted widespread criticism, with teachers saying they were 'losing faith' in the IB and its lack of transparency and cumbersome, opaque appeal process. 26,000+ students signed an online petition started by student Ali Zagmout calling for new grades. 

In India, lower-than-expected grades caused widespread distress, according to The Times of India. Teachers and parents in the US argued that using a school's historical data to produce grades was unfair to black or low-income students, or students from smaller schools.

Developer: International Baccalaureate Organization
Country: Global
Sector: Education
Purpose: Predict exam grades
Technology: Prediction algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, income; Fairness
Transparency: Governance, Complaints/appeals