Conversion and moderation
In the interests of fairness, the Ministère endeavours to prepare examinations of comparable difficulty from one year to the next.
Despite the precautions taken during the development of the examinations, the Ministère may have to convert marks. Conversion involves raising all the scores of an examination slightly to arrive at a comparable failure rate among the various cohorts, in the interests of fairness.
The Education Act provides for this possibility:
The Minister may, to avoid penalizing students unduly, revise the results obtained by them in the examinations he imposes, to compensate for any error or ambiguity in the examinations brought to his attention after they are taken.
School marks are taken into account in determining the final mark when student performance in a course is evaluated by means of a uniform examination. These marks may vary considerably from school to school and from class to class, and the differences may be explained by a number of factors. The degree of difficulty of the local examinations varies from one educational institution to another. Finally, some institutions normalize their marks.
Because of these factors, two groups of students from different classes or schools may have identical results on the local examinations, but it is impossible to determine objectively if the students’ level of performance is in fact the same. On the other hand, uniform examinations are administered to all students enrolled in a given course; therefore the results on such examinations are a good indication of the performance of different classes. It is thus possible to use the marks obtained on a uniform examination to “moderate” the school marks, that is, to minimize or eliminate the impact of the local variables.
When the Ministère uses moderation, it compares, for each class, the school marks and the ministerial examination marks. Using a statistical procedure, the distribution of the school marks for each class is changed so that they are consistent with the marks obtained on the uniform examination by this class, according to the mean and the standard deviation (that is, the dispersion of marks around the mean).
Moderation involves adjusting each student’s school mark upward or downward. It cannot, however, result in the failure of any student who has obtained a pass mark on the uniform examination.