Changing the assessment of GCSEs whilst students are studying them.

(49 Posts)
creamteas Thu 25-Apr-13 15:13:52

Ofqual have announced that they want to change the assessment for GCSE English in 2014. They are consulting till June this year. They want to stop speaking and listening from contributing to the grade. see here

This means that students already in the first year of the GCSEs do not now know what they will be assessed on, and in some cases, work already done is wasted. If S&L is not going to count, there is not a lot of point spending much time on it.

Leaving aside whether or not this is a good idea (and I don't think it is), the idea that you can change a course when students are half way through is simply ludicrous.

Startail Thu 25-Apr-13 15:36:44

Oh fuck and that's likely to be my dyslexic DDs best mark.

l'm already getting stressed by some six forms wanting B grade without them making it harder still.

All the CAs and different language and literature papers are a nightmare as it is.

English language needs to be a simple linear exam with very clear grade boundaries that isn't messed with. Y10-11 need to have faith in their predicated grades and know what they need to work on.

Also English is so important for employment and access to further study it must be possible to resit it in Y12 or as an adult.

bella65 Thu 25-Apr-13 16:08:46

Oh do calm down. The exam is over a year away. I am a teacher and can tell you that teachers are fully capable of teaching what is required for the exam ( most of the time smile )

If all that is being changed is the S&L element then students do know precisely what they are being and not being assessed on so your point is illogical surely?

S&L forms a small part of the English GCSE and all it means is that those marks will be allocated to another part of the curriculum- it's not a big deal. Really.

bella65 Thu 25-Apr-13 16:11:48

and BTW I fully agree with the proposal. The actual speaking and listening activities are very subjective, in terms of awarding marks, students have a massive amount of time to prepare for them, often work in pairs or groups- and it's quite right IMO that this should not be weighted as 20% of the grade.

creamteas Thu 25-Apr-13 17:55:19

Regardless of the merits or otherwise in this case, I object in principle to the idea that you can change assessment after people have started studying a course.

It is bad enough that Gove Ofqual seem to have very little understanding that the curriculum and assessment are interrelated and if you want to change the assessment you need to rethink the curriculum. This is clear in the sudden demand to move all exams to the end, despite the fact that they were designed as modular courses. But to then change the assessment in the middle of a course? If we did this at University level we could be sued as the module specifications and seen as legally binding contractual obligations.

Besides which, how can anyone have any faith in an examination system, if the goalposts are moved in the middle?

bella65 Thu 25-Apr-13 20:48:08

But why compare it with university? Are you a lecturer or involved in setting uni exams? If not, then how do you know what would happen at uni?

The S&L amounts to 20% of the overall grade. The link you posted shows quite clearly how the marks will be distributed now. It's very easy to distribute that percentage over the rest of the English exam. I cannot honestly see why you think it's such a big issue, unless you feel that your DC is going to be disadvantaged by the change - or is your post just another dig at Gove regardless of the merits of the change to this exam?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 25-Apr-13 20:56:23

Bella, I think your posts are a little blunt tbh.

I can fully see how a parent might be concerned by a moving of the goal posts mid course even if you, as a teacher might be aware of reassuring information that points otherwise.

creamteas Thu 25-Apr-13 21:05:39

I'm a lecturer and yes, I set exams.

And no, I do not have a DC that are directly effected at all. My DD is due to sit this summer, and DS3 has not yet started his GCSEs (so he will know from the beginning what is required).

Wanting to change assessment is one thing. But to introduce what is effectively a retrospective change (students already studying are now uncertain as to what they will be assessed on) is fundamentally unjust.

And, as I said above, would be considered a breech of contract in other areas of education.

OddBoots Thu 25-Apr-13 21:06:02

I agree, it isn't about the change, maybe the change is needed, I don't know but changing the course after it has already started feels very unfair, it gives a sense of uncertainty about the whole process.

bella65 Thu 25-Apr-13 21:09:26

Wanting to change assessment is one thing. But to introduce what is effectively a retrospective change (students already studying are now uncertain as to what they will be assessed on) is fundamentally unjust.

But it's not! The S&L is a tiny part of the exam- it's carried out very informally in English lessons. The children will now be told that exam a) is worth say 60 marks instead of 50 and exam b) will be worth X marks. It won't actually affect what they learn at all- it will simply mean more marks will be available for some aspects of the exam.

I can't see why you are in such a tizzy over it.

Kez100 Thu 25-Apr-13 21:10:21

My Y10 DC is likely to be disadvantaged. He is severely dyslexic and is looking at D/E for the written 80% but is very well spoken and very good at theatre, which he takes part in regularly, and likely to score very highly in S and L type assessments.

Despite this, if it wasn't relevant to English, I would agree with it being removed. However, I think it is very relevant to English. Being able to communicate verbally with style, thought and sensitivity is actually a really important part of life and one that is quite underappreciated in current study systems. Oral exams have been part of MFL since time in memorial - I cannot see why they cannot ensure an adequate assessment process for S and L in English too rather than it be taken away.

The other reason it isn't fair to change part way through a course, is that some schools may have covered it in year 10 and thus already used precious teaching time which other schools, who leave it until year 11, have not. It is not a even playing field.

YANBU. Sigh.

creamteas Thu 25-Apr-13 21:25:14

bella so if next year they decide that they don't like written controlled assessments or randomly decide that they now disapprove of Of Mice and Men in the middle of the two year course, would you still feel it is not a big deal?

It is not what they are doing, but the fact that they think it is ok to change specifications half way through the course that if the problem.

S+L is 20%. To change that mid-course is huuuge.

YoniOrNotYoni Thu 25-Apr-13 21:27:25

Er, Bella, are you actually Mr Gove?

OP, I agree. It's absolutely ridiculous to change a course pupils are already studying.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 25-Apr-13 21:27:43

I can't see why you are in such a tizzy over it.

Try seeing this from another person's perspective, perhaps?

Kez100 Thu 25-Apr-13 21:29:39

20% is not tiny and it is a ridiculous notion to say it is.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Thu 25-Apr-13 22:24:51

So after last summer's debacle OFQUAL are still trying to act as if it is the teachers fault and they cannot be trusted. It is a big deal and as HOD in a school entering 350 pupils in June this year it will create a huge problem. They will have to change the structure of the exam if it is to be weighted at 60% and like many schools we teach most of the Language paper in Year 10 and focus on Literature in Year 11. With timing being so crucial in these exams, major changes will completely throw our year plans. I am getting increasingly concerned about the way English GCSE is the 'plaything' of OFQUAL/Gove without any concern for the pupils. Yet this qualification is crucial to their future. They have still not announced the changes to Lit which we are supposed to start teaching in September.
Perhaps they should turn up at schools and see the devastated faces of young people who have worked hard and had the rug pulled from under their feet for political machinations.

YoniOrNotYoni Thu 25-Apr-13 22:48:50

I feel ilovegeorgeclooney needs a 'hear hear' for that. The more I think about this the more cross I get.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 25-Apr-13 22:51:59

Bella, your utter lack of compassion and manners is very striking, and I'm glad I haven't encountered any teachers like you.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Fri 26-Apr-13 04:42:30

As Startail said, Oh fuck that's meant to be my dyslexic DD's best mark.

Surely they should start this for the current Y9's, not the current Y10's?

Could they piss about with GCSE's mid-course any more leaving my Y10 DD not knowing whether she's coming or going?!

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Fri 26-Apr-13 04:49:19

My DD gets a D/E for the written part of her English work...and A/B for the S&L part.

Losing those marks will seriously harm her final grade.

To change it halfway through the course is unfair.

And her school focuses on Language in Y10, and literature in Y11. So chunks of work she has done in Y10 may now not be of as much use to her, and my DD won't cope with an accelerated pace in Y11 to make up for the loss of the S&L marks.

So blatantly unfair.

bella65 Fri 26-Apr-13 07:58:37

creamteas now you are just being plain daft- removing a literature text and presumably replacing it with another mid course would be totally different.

Steamingnit I cannot see you making any constructive comments here- but you are using the thread to take a pot shot at me. Pretty sad really.

I think everyone needs to stand back and take out the knee jerk emotion- and actually think about the merits of the change. I have taught for so long that when I first began teaching there was no S&L as part of the GCSE/ O level exam. Over the years this element has contributed to grades perhaps more than it should in a way which does not represent what the exam should really be testing and proving to employers.

Yes of course being able to string a sentence together is important- but this is a GCSE- what someone has to do to achieve a pass grade in the S&L is not a good going to make that much difference in RL to their chances of getting a job. There are other ways these skills can be developed both in and out of school. It doesn't have to form part of the GCSE syllabus.

cornydash Fri 26-Apr-13 08:10:52

well at the moment it does bella and that's the crucial point

mnistooaddictive Fri 26-Apr-13 08:21:34

As a Maths teacher I am amazed (but unfortunately not surprised) that an English teacher thinks one fifth is a small amount. The course may need changing but you don't do it for students already on the course. It is one fifth of their marks and is unfair to change the goal posts.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 26-Apr-13 08:42:01

bella I read this thread and lots of other education threads because I'm interested in education and have a child about to take GCSEs - and what I have seen on two threads recently is you taking a very arrogant and rude tone with concerned parents, telling them to 'calm down' and accusing them of being in a 'tizzy' about perfectly valid concerns. You don't strike me as being very empathetic, still less sympathetic, to parental concerns, and I find this worrying. I'm not 'using' threads to have a pop at you, but I have seen you on two of them posting in ways I would not expect or hope for from someone teaching my children. That is all.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Fri 26-Apr-13 10:28:31

Bella, since S and L is worth 20% of the marks we like most schools assign 20% of teaching time to it. So it is exactly the same as changing one of the novels in the Lit exam which is worth 20% of the overall mark. I would also dispute your value of S and L. For many pupils it is their first experience of explicitly being taught of the importance of formality/tone etc and this is essential as they go into the workforce. The confidence they gain from doing an individual presentation is also invaluable. It is additionally an opportunity for some children such as dyslexics to shine and helps these pupils achieve grades that are closer to matching their ability and builds their confidence in their communication skills. As a school with a high number of EAL pupils we will probably benefit from this change but that does not stop me feeling it is a retrograde step.

Startail Fri 26-Apr-13 11:40:52

Thanks kez100 et. al. For jumping to my defence. Perhaps I should wear my 'calm non swearing hat on the education boards'

However, that doesn't change the fact that in DD gets 1.5 levels higher for speaking and listening and clearly would like the marks.

Also, I would have thought they had enough of being in trouble for moving the goal posts mid exam last year.

I accept I am also furious with Gove/Ofsted etc for putting DDs school in SM and therefore making her needing a B to move at sixth form more likely. (Sadly, SMs is very likely to hit our sixth forms intake even though the mess is nothing to do with them).

cornydash Fri 26-Apr-13 11:47:54

I also question Bella's value of S&L. In the workplace these skills are vitally important.

freerangeeggs Fri 26-Apr-13 13:47:43

I'm an English teacher and I'm pissed off about this, not least because I heard about it on BBC news angry

We've already completed speaking and listening assessments (speeches) and for my bottom set this took a lot of work (a LOT of work). I don't think I can tell them about this as they'll be gutted.

A fifth is a massive amount and I don't know how people can argue otherwise. I've always kind of thought that 20% was a bit much (10% maybe more reasonable) but it IS a relevant and important skill and it's completely unfair to change the goalposts halfway through the course.

glaurung Fri 26-Apr-13 13:59:28

But they will still get a grade for S+L listed on their certificates, separate to the main grade and not contributing to it (or from the schools perspective the league tables). So time spent already isn't wasted, they should get a good subsidiary grade and for those dc that shine at spoken English this may well be beneficial in the future as it will highlight that strength (which is probably valued more for many jobs than the written part).

I agree that they shouldn't change courses that have already been started - they did this for A levels too,so the current yr12s can't do January modules next year, but as such changes go, I think this one is fairly minor - since English GCSE is a compulsory core subject it's not as if any child would have chosen not to do it if they'd known the assessment was going to be different.

Startail Fri 26-Apr-13 15:20:38

A good subsidiary S&L grade might just help in getting into sixth form next year with the change fresh in people's minds.

It's not going to make a C look like a B for university admissions and employers in the future.

It certainly isn't going to help DCs who don't go on to HE for whom the difference between a C and a D in English can make a huge difference.

YoniOrNotYoni Fri 26-Apr-13 18:33:49

Ive completed the consultation doc for this today. Can I suggest you do too? It's on the ofqual website.

I also have a new theory. I suspect they're just saying they'll introduce it next year, then when we all get cross they'll change it to 2015 and say 'see, we listened', thus sneaking through the changes themselves with less arguments.

YoniOrNotYoni Fri 26-Apr-13 18:35:31

Don't even get me started on the subsidiary grade or the 'you won't have to change a thing'...

glaurung Fri 26-Apr-13 18:40:04

I quite like the idea of a separate grade for speaking and listening actually... The problem is only if schools don't teach it because it doesn't count for league tables.

creamteas Fri 26-Apr-13 18:41:38

now you are just being plain daft- removing a literature text and presumably replacing it with another mid course would be totally different

Actually no, it is not a daft suggestion. Once the precedent has been set that they can change the specification half way through there is nothing to stop them doing this.

The idea that it is ok because it will be on the certificate is beyond stupid. As pointed out above, no one will see the certificate until after decisions have been made either in education or employment.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 26-Apr-13 18:47:17

As a teacher of science at secondary level, I completely agree with you, creamteas!!!

glaurung Fri 26-Apr-13 19:03:00

I expect a lot of schools may jump ship to iGCSE on the back of this. I don't think they can mandate changes to iGCSE in the same way they can for GCSE and so that will still have 20% S&L.

creamteas Fri 26-Apr-13 20:25:31

I hope lots do go to igcse. The sooner education is taken out of political control the better

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 26-Apr-13 20:38:44

The sooner education is taken out of political control the better

Again! Completely agree with you!

cardibach Fri 26-Apr-13 20:47:35

I'm an English teacher and I really doubt that bella is. She really doesn't sound like someone who is working her socks off to deliver a course that is constantly changing under extreme pressure and under scrutiny from management because English results are such a hot potato. I really don't get her attitude if she is.

YoniOrNotYoni Fri 26-Apr-13 21:14:33

Or perhaps ofqual is right and Bella is one of the ones faking the results sad

I worked with an Assistant Head who just totally made up his S+L grades. Sadly it does happen but S+L is a lifeline for those bright kids who struggle with writing.

I wish I hadn't been so inexperienced and shy when I worked with him. I'd love to blow a fucking enormous whistle on his ass. grin

Loshad Fri 26-Apr-13 21:53:17

Science teacher here, and 20% is a large amount of the curriculum. Reckon whoever said upstream that Bella was Gove is right (or Mrs Gove). There may be some teachers around as ill informed, ignorant and aggressive as Bella, but i haven't met any yet.

greyvix Sat 27-Apr-13 00:28:25

As an English teacher, I am outraged that the final goalposts should be moved halfway through the course. I am embarrassed that, when I prepared my Year 10 students for their recent speaking and listening assessments, telling them that it was worth 20% of their GCSE grades, I was giving them false information. I am also questioning how the final exam will reflect 60% of the overall marks. There is currently only one short writing task (which will count for 30% of the overall marks).

I agree that speaking and listening does need tighter controls, but abandoning it in the middle of a course is not the best approach.

I note, however, that the article disappeared very quickly from the BBC website. What should we glean from that? Also, if Ofqual is consulting until June, who are they consulting with? I have responded to various documents (from the government and the exam board), but none specifically on speaking and listening.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 27-Apr-13 14:21:31

The consultation form is on the OFQUAL website. I felt much better after filling it in!?!>

Dominodonkey Sat 27-Apr-13 17:03:12

YY Greyvix

And I don't believe that bella is actually an English teacher.

I am livid. If they want to change it fair enough (we all know that many schools/teachers do inflate the grades, over 90% of students get a C on S and L) but changing it in the middle is unacceptable and unfair.
Some of my students worked really hard for a drama piece a few weeks ago, practised loads and really thought about their characters, know those marks mean almost nothing.
I will be looking at the OFQUAL website.

Dominodonkey Sat 27-Apr-13 17:04:08

Sorry mean 'now'....

greyvix Sat 27-Apr-13 19:22:08

Thanks Ilovegeorgeclooney. I have also now filled it in.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now