Exam regulator Ofqual said it is confident “standards have been maintained” in this year’s English GCSEs.
The regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland commented after today’s publication of GCSE results.
Teachers have complained that English GCSE exams have been marked too harshly.
The Association of School and College Leaders' general secretary Brian Lightman said there was “a lot of concern” among members.
“We've got some schools where teachers have been teaching the same course for years and suddenly the results are way below what they've always been before as the pass mark has been moved higher,” he said.
An Ofqual spokesperson said:
“Our job is to make sure that grades are right, and that what is required for each grade stays steady.
“Where we see differences year on year, or between one exam board and another, it is our job to challenge that and to see whether there is any evidence or explanation for it. Results do go up or down, for various reasons.
“They don't stay exactly the same each year, in each subject. But we have to be as sure as we can be that any movement is for a good reason, and that is what we do.
“The proportion of English students achieving an A* - C grade this summer fell by 1.5 per cent.
“We are confident that standards have been maintained and that the grades awarded are right.
“The performance required to achieve each grade is the same as last year, differences in pass rates reflect differences in the group of students taking the exams.”
Ofqual said there have been changes to the entry patterns of GCSE English candidates, with around 20,000 candidates from independent and selective schools moving to other qualifications.
“Overall, the entry is up. This is likely to be the result of fewer students entering early in the winter series and instead being included in the summer results. This will have had an effect the results.”