Sleeping in or selecting out? Candidates' absence from GCSE examinations

For a multitude of reasons candidates do not always complete all assessments in the examinations they are entered for. Using examination data across a range of GCSE specifications offered by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, this article details the impact of 'unaccepted' absence on educational attainment, and explores absence by mode of assessment. Little information is available in the public domain as to the prevalence and implications of absence from public examinations. This article paints a relatively reassuring picture overall of the examination attendance trends of GCSE candidates. It demonstrates, however, that unaccepted absence is associated with poor educational outcome. It is also found to be concentrated in certain modes of assessment. On the basis of the latter trend the article argues that educationalists should extend to the context of the public examination system some specific concepts related to school absenteeism and truancy.

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