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English Controlled assessments.

(20 Posts)
Startailoforangeandgold Wed 17-Oct-12 23:33:37

Please can any English teachers please explain these.

DD1 has had two of these already and it seem very early, she's only just started Y10.

She is dyslexic (gets extra time), her English is slowly improving, so it seems insane that she is doing chunks of her GCSE now, not in almost two years time.

She got a C in the first one and was offered a resit, in the prep time for the second. This seemed utterly and completely barking mad so she didn't take it.

Any enlightenment kind MNs got give an old lady, who did English O Level would be most gratefully received.

gelo Thu 18-Oct-12 02:01:04

There's two sides to this. They do get an awful lot of CAs over year 10 and 11, so it does make sense for schools to spread them out across the years and avoid the awful situation where they are left doing 3 subjects in one week near the end of year 11 and having to go in in the Easter hols of yr 11 to do another (right when they really needed to be revising for exams). It is nice for the students to have them out of the way and be able to focus on the exam work.

But, they get better at them too and the ones done in year 11 do tend to score higher, so there is a trade off.

English, and especially spoken English do often seem to be done early on. Best advice is to take them seriously (loads of dc don't) and do the best you can. Sometimes a resit soon after can gain a much higher grade as if they do a very similar topic (apparently allowed) and take on board all the feedback from the first try then they can do much better, but obviously if you think it will adversely affect other work then that's not so good.

PetitIndice Thu 18-Oct-12 07:23:46

It's just the same as the old coursework system, except they do it in school and not at home to make it more fair. The GCSE course (ESP if they're doing AQA) is really tight, time wise, so you need to spread the controlled assessments out to leave time to teach the unit and then have time for the exam teaching, too.
No point in doing exam stuff now, then CA because they would have forgotten it all by the end of Y11, so CA comes first. Remember that it is also usually two GCSEs (Lang and Lit) as well, do the time constraints are hard going!
I presume they will have done creative writing (2) by now as it is quickest to teach and easiest to resit (which is actually not allowed!) at the end if their grades need a boost.
My y10s have already done 2 CAs and a speaking and listening - it's normal, don't worry! And make sure your dc has their extra time for dyslexia, knows the mark scheme v v well, and takes them seriously.
I approach it like 'money in the bank' already, rather than paying one big bill at the end!
HTH

Uninformed Thu 18-Oct-12 19:17:24

Sorry to butt in, but I'm totally confused about controlled assessments as well.
(Although my d/s has just told me that they are not allowed resits.)
My d/s is taking controlled assessments this week and next. One speaking and listening (out of three), and the creative writing (descriptive and narrative) for English Language 2013, WJEC board.

Are they given the results of these tasks fairly soon after being tested, or do we have to wait until the whole GCSE is completed? Or is this a silly question? My d/s has no idea.
I agree with taking them seriously, they add up to 60% of the marks!

balia Thu 18-Oct-12 19:57:56

Whilst students can't resit the same task, they can have another go at a different task using the same skills (eg creative writing).

You can have the results as soon as they are marked, but the difficulty for us all is that CA is marked in 'bands' and the exam boards are very cagey about how those marks equate to grades. So the best I have managed to do is give an overall indication, when a component is complete (eg 2 pieces of creative writing)of the grade the cumulative mark would have been awarded the previous year.

And if too many students, through hard work, great teaching and targetted intervention achieve that skill level, well then they change the grade boundaries so the outcomes match the predicted grades based on KS2 results.

IAmLouisWalsh Thu 18-Oct-12 21:00:46

They can be given a mark and a band by the teacher but we have no idea what that will mean in terms of a grade. CAs can be banked with the exam board in Jan or June - then grades will be confirmed for CA units, either separately or together with the exam.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 18-Oct-12 21:06:42

Thanks, I think I get some of that.
My head still hurts.

It's insanely complicated, I just wrote an essay, did a comprehension and paraphrased something into the correct number of words.

The WJEC then gave you a nice shiny grade A O level, even if you were dyslexic and couldn't spell for toffee.

Looking at the grades universities want, GCSEs ought to be easy, but they seem way more confusing.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 18-Oct-12 21:10:57

Ok so retreading that DDs C can become a D if too many people do well?

Grrrrr I thought GCSE weren't supposed to be like that. I thought the whole reason for grades going up was if you did well you got rewarded regardless. Rather than As for the top x%

Uninformed Thu 18-Oct-12 21:42:15

The other worry I have is that the marking is somewhat subjective. In my d/s's class, about half of the class have completed their speaking and listening task so far, they weren't audio recorded and there hasn't been enough time for the "audience" of pupils to ask the "presenter" questions, so it just wasn't done! Yet they're all supposed to be assessed on this. Some have done their presentation alone, while others have done them in pairs. I can't understand how they can all be fairly marked on this, I'm concerned that the marking will be too much in the power of the teacher, who may mark some generously and others harshly.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 18-Oct-12 22:33:08

Sorry about retreading for rereading.

I've dropped my iPod proofing with cracks across the screen is rather hard.

Dominodonkey Thu 18-Oct-12 23:08:21

'I'm concerned that the marking will be too much in the power of the teacher'

I don't know what you mean here. Of course the marking is in the power of the teacher it is them who do the marking. And don't worry they will not mark harshly - the S and L is the only one the exam boards cannot moderate (well they can but that would be a special visit) so teachers tend to be generous all round.

Startail - Yes. 21 in Jan was a C, but it became a low D for the June exams. yes, it is unfair and ridiculous as the child has either achieved the skills required for a C grade or not.

IAmLouisWalsh Fri 19-Oct-12 20:36:55

The exam boards do S+L moderation visits.

Rather a lot of them this year, I have heard.

Startailoforangeandgold Fri 19-Oct-12 21:52:41

S&L is something dyslexic DD1 ought to get a good mark at. She's chattering away to DH at the momentgrin

SecretSquirrels Sat 20-Oct-12 13:20:30

I have a DS who has just started year 12 and one just starting Year10, so have lived with CAs for two years now.
They are utterly relentless and also flawed IMO.
GCSEs are designed for 16 year olds and there is a world of difference in maturity, not to mention two years teaching between the child at the start of year 10 and the end of year 11.
They are nothing like coursework as they are all done in hall under exam conditions. The first CA DS1 did was a long written piece on Mice and Men. They had to write about 2000 in a four hour test. Poor DS2 now has to do the same and is quite ill equipped as far as I can tell.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 20-Oct-12 13:28:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dodgyissue Sat 20-Oct-12 14:16:38

OP,

I suspect your DC was doing the Creative writing CA. In that case, as there are two, it would not really be a problem for them to resit during the preparation time for the second one (because if they've sat the first one, the assessment criteria are exactly the same). The teacher was not actually crazy.

Startail, your post is the reason why English teachers around the country are currently going nuts. Yep, students can be attaining the same levels as students in previous years, but now getting a lower grade for it. I think changing from criterian referencing to norm referencing is appalling. To be honest, I am finding marking the first set of Year 10 CAs upsetting. I am sticking to the bands, but I genuinely have no idea what that now means. Are the exam boards going to come up with some arbitrary grade for that in the summer? Awful situation. If I was a parent with a child in Year 10 or 11 right now, I'd be out marching with the teachers.

Uninformed, the marking is very well moderated. It will be internally moderated and then the exam board will see a sample to confirm the marks. It's not something to worry about (what is something to worry about is what I wrote above: what do those marks mean?).

Secret, your DC's school are not carrying out CAs as they are intended. I, personally, think they are the best possible system really. They are relentless and difficult. The combination of them and the exam at the end also means that in order to attain a top grade, students have had to do well in a range of skill areas and situations. This will not be the case when Michael Gove gets rid of the whole system to go backwards. He actually will make the situation easier for students (though, also teachers....so I probably won't complain too much!).

Startailoforangeandgold Mon 22-Oct-12 14:59:31

secret that's my major complaint.
DD1 didn't learn to read until she was in Y6. Her English is getting better and better as time passes.

She will always be dyslexic and her written work will always be way below the mark she gets in multiple choice exams or with a scribe.

But it will still be better when she is 16 than it is now!

My school stopped doing O levels early, because pupils, however bright, got better marks at the end of Y11 than they did at the end of Y10.

CAs just appear to be doing part of the exam insanely early and that just seems monumentally wrong.

thanks to all the English teachers who have taken the time to answer this thread. I really appreciate it.

Dominodonkey Mon 22-Oct-12 19:05:01

secret that does sound harsh. We do ours in class over a period of a week or so. The students are well supervised and cannot talk etc and everything is taken in between sessions but the students don't see it as the same as exams.

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 23-Oct-12 22:58:01

I think the first was descriptive and the second a narrative, so not quite the same, but both sort of fictional.

ravenAK Tue 23-Oct-12 23:12:29

Yep, pretty standard practice, Startailoforangeandgold.

We do the Eng Lit one first (Shakespeare & the Literary Heritage), before cracking on with the two creative tasks, whereas your dd will have done her two creative tasks first. It's not a bad idea at all - they can knock a replacement one off in a few lessons if the first is unsuccessful.

eg. We took a load of borderliners off timetable in y11 to re-attempt creative CAs. It's similar skills to those needed for the descriptive task in the exam, so win-win.

The main problem with CAs is the sheer time they take up, needing to be done under exam conditions each time.

Other than that, it's an extremely rigorous but well thought out course (especially if doing Lang AND Lit, rather than combined English) which the idiot Gove could usefully keep his hands off...

& yy to balia & Dodgyissue's comments about exam boards retrospectively moving goalposts (off the bloody field). Grrr.

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