A level English - wtf?(51 Posts)
I'm flummoxed that I'm in this situation.
Dd (high achieving perfectionist putting herself under A LOT of pressure and feeling the stress quite keenly now) has come home in floods of tears because she has had her English course work mark given to her by her teachers at school and it is lower than she had hoped for. It was 1 mark less than the grade she is aiming for. So now she has completely lost her confidence and feels she can't get the grade she wanted and is in absolute bits about it.
How is this helpful? Tbh I had no idea that 20% of her A level is even marked by teachers. She is now obsessing over the fact that she didn't ask for more help from the teachers when some students asked for and got a great deal of input and got that 1 or 2 magic marks more than she did. She is really shaken up and not in a good way and I find it unbelievable that anyone thinks it is a good idea to share these marks with students before all the exams are over!? Why do it?
Have to admit to being astonished that exam papers are even assessed in this way!
Course work is course work. It's assessed by the teacher, then usually has some form of moderation, depending on the qualification.
1 - your DC will have been told this is the method. It's totally expected to onow your coursework mark.
2 - can you get some help (as in counselling / support, not a tutor) to work on this perfectionism? That level of reaction is not healthy.
The incentive now is to nail that exam, so get focused on the final run of revision.
They are required by the exam boards to share the marks with students. Although it sounds like the school have shared the marks very late and they've told the students after marks they’ve been submitted to the board. Really they should have told them first and let them have a chance to challenge them. Nobody knows what the grade boundaries are for this year yet so your daughter shouldn’t be upset over being “one mark away” from the next grade. It might be one mark away, or it might be more, or she might have got the grade she is aiming for after all. I’d tell her, as gently as possible, that she needs to get a grip. It’s made one mark difference to the mark she needs for the grade she wants out of the remaining 80% available, She needs to keep it in perspective.
Whilst it may seem like she’s lost a whole grade, she’s lost one mark. I used to console myself by saying if I get one or two extra marks in the exam it’ll level out. Maybe try that?
It is unlikely it has gone through moderation yet so could yet change. However one mark is easily recoverable in an exam. She needs to focus on what is to come now.
Grade boundaries change each year, so the idea she's '1 mark off' is nonsense. All her teachers can do is say what the boundaries were last year. They may well be lower or higher this year.
The exams are far more important in deciding final grade - 80%! That's where her attention needs to be.
Firstly, 1 mark isn’t going to make a massive difference unless she’s already a borderline candidate between 2 grades.
Secondly, she needs to forget about it and focus on the exams. If she’s been given an estimate of what the UMS will be she can use that to motivate her performance in the exams. I have had pupils who did really well in the coursework unit but totally bomb an exam unit, and still come out with a high B - it’s the overall UMS total which matters, not the grades for individual units.
Finally, the coursework is a really important part of A Level English, great prep for uni, and it’s absolutely standard for it to be marked by the teacher and moderated by the exam board.
She's not so bad she needs counselling. She keeps it all under control and quietly gets on with it. But this has really knocked her confidence after all her hard work! English will be her subject at University and it means so much to her.
What is the thinking behind telling the students before final marks are in?
Just be grounding for her, it will be fine and she can do this - don’t get caught up in catastrophising with her.
The school has to tell the students their mark submitted. But it doesn't sound like the process has been explained very well to your daughter - the mark she has has not been moderated by the exam board yet and so can be changed. Also, boundaries have not been set, so it is impossible to say exactly what grade the mark equates to.
1 mark is nothing. The best advice you can give her is to pull herself together if she's "in bits" as that is a massive overreaction, and she needs to focus on her revision. The coursework is tiny in comparison to those exams. Hope she prepares well for them and in August you're wondering what on earth you were worried about!
My students have found it quite empowering to know their grades - you can then look at the exams (2 papers for my subject), marks they’ve got in mock papers, what that might come out at (grades given before an exam are always estimates but you can give a ballpark figure) and how much that equates to per paper. For example, a student worked out she needed about 8 marks more per paper than she’d been getting to get an A overall - obviously I emphasised that this isn’t an exact science but she was very energised by that because it suddenly seems so achievable.
English will be her subject at University and it means so much to her.
She needs to treat it as a learning experience - when she gets to university there WILL be people better than her and there WILL be work she doesn’t do as well as she’d like on. Better to get used to that now! Part of being good at humanities subjects is learning to have your ideas and faith in you abilities robustly criticised from time to time - I’m about to start a PhD in another humanities subject and that’s essentially what higher level academic work is all about. Don’t let her obsess over it, perfectionism is unhelpful.
Just backing up the idea that there is no such thing as a 'grade' in coursework and , if your DD's teachers are telling her there is, then they are talking stuff and nonsense. Grade boundaries for English are notoriously moveable feasts!
The JQC state that schools have to tell students their marks before they are finally submitted. That isn't so students can get help and change the mark, but if the student wants to challenge the mark then the piece can be second marked. In most centres it's standard to moderate every piece of coursework anyway so a change is unlikely and staff try to find marks and award.positively.
She has lost one mark. That's easily able to be picked up in an exam. Also, boundaries are set after everything is in so whatever boundaries her school are using will be last year's.
I think, to be blunt, she needs a bit of grounding and perspective. She'll be going to university with a lot less scaffolding than school, where she will probably be of a similar ability to her peers and no longer used to getting the highest marks all the time. It's a fairly textbook reaction for some high performing girls (and praised further down the school) but it really isn't healthy.
If she has revised for her exams then she'll be just fine.
There is a requirement to tell students NEA (work marked by teachers) marks so they have the chance to appeal. If she was only told today, that is actually too late, and the school/college has messed up a bit. DS found out his History coursework mark last week, and that was one day before the deadline for appealing. I was a bit miffed because he had to hand it in in November, so I would have preferred any potential upset to have been out of the way long before the exams started. He got his EPQ mark last week too, having already made University choices based on that. He handed that in in October
What is the thinking behind telling the students before final marks are in?
Students have a right to know the mark attained. By this point it will have been internally moderated (i.e. marked by another teacher at the school, possibly looked at by a team of teachers - the exact process depends on the school, number of students, etc.) and the mark given to your dd is the mark sent to the exam board. The exam board will then do external moderation. The process this takes varies as well, mostly depending on the number of students. If it is a small entry, like 9 students total, the exam board check all of the coursework. If a larger number, they will call a sample - usually a couple of the highest marked, couple the lowest, and some random ones in the middle. If they find the marking accurate, all marks stay the same. If the school is consistently over marking by a few marks then they will adjust everyone down, and vice versa. If the marking is inconsistent or out by a lot, they remark all of them. Grade boundaries vary year by year and are fixed after all the coursework and exams are completed. They don't tend to change by much at a level but if she's really only one or two marks off what she'd hoped for that is within the scope of change. She needs to focus on the exam now, not stress about the coursework, which has been and gone!
But yes, grades are meaningless here. It is the marks that are totalled up and the grade based on that. One mark is definitely gettable.
I have no intention whatsoever of catastrophising with her! I am the polar opposite of that sort of parent. I'm distressed to see her so deeply upset when normally she is so level headed and capable.
Being told that she got 1 mark off the grade she is aiming for by the school has knocked her for six and upset her! She is a robust character but this has come so close to her A levels and she can't do anything about it now. I still can't see the point of it.
But it's interesting some of you are saying school have given her this information too late. Can you tell me more about that? or where can I Google?
It is clear that candidates are not allowed to change their work as part of the appeal process. In fact they are only allowed access to it under supervision. The Centre's deadline for completion stands.
She can have a "mark" at the moment but not a grade because until all papers are in and marked grade boundaries are not set. It is one mark in 20% of the weighting. Tell her to go on and smash the remaining 80%!
There's a date usually given my the boards/ JQC. I can't remember when it was this year as mine were in really early.
Whether they've been told or not enough to raise it will depend on a few things, mainly have they been given their marks before?
E.g. I know of students getting their marks back 'subject to moderation' and then no news is no change. In those situations I dont think there's anything wrong with that.
People saying about how they handed in in October and should have had marks earlier need to be aware that there is a procedure for coursework and spending a year redraftinf endlessly to get the mark you want isn't in the rules (though some centres do it which is why coursework has been reduced in weighting).
I'm a teacher myself and well aware of the rules. I didn't want him to be able to redraft after marking. I wanted any potential disappointment to be closer to the hand-in date than a week before his exams started. It took over 7 months from hand in to the mark being given to him.
She’s overreacting in quite an extreme way. If, for example she does AQA and is aiming for an A then out of 150 marks she needs one extra mark on the exams. So depending on paper options it might be the difference between needed 52/75 and 54/75 on the two papers vs. 53/75 and 54/75. Or the grade boundaries might be totally different this year. No one knows.
In the first year of the new specs one of my students got an A* on her coursework, had a seizure in the exam and got a D overall. Another girl last year got a D on coursework and got a B overall. And her exams weren’t A* or anything, just solid mid-Bs.
In regards to the regulations this is from JCQ:
Is the centre required to tell candidates what marks they have been awarded?
Yes. The centre must inform candidates of their centre assessed marks as a candidate is allowed to request a review of the centre’s marking before marks are submitted to the awarding body.
What is the correct procedure for a candidate requesting a review of the centre’s mark?
Any review must be undertaken before marks are submitted to the awarding body. Sufficient time must be given to candidates in order to allow them to review copies of material, as necessary, and reach a decision. The centre must also allow sufficient time for the review to be carried out, to make any necessary changes to marks and to inform the candidate of the outcome, all before the awarding body’s deadline. The review must be carried out by an assessor who has appropriate competence, has had no previous involvement in the assessment of that candidate and has no personal interest in the review. The reviewer must ensure that the candidate’s mark is consistent with the standard set by the centre.
Centres must also make it clear to candidates that any centre assessed marks are subject to change through the moderation process.
The awarding bodies have produced a set of Frequently Asked Questions which may be found at:
I see what you mean.
The complaint we typically hear on coursework marks going out after a reasonable break (usually due to us needing a break from seeing it to mark properly with fresh eyes and the way our mock exams fall) is the claim that the student should have been given time to change their work and we've caused stress and worry by failing to ensure they can get the grade they need. There's no mention of the months spent on it and help offered and help not taken, just that we should have marked it quicker and that way they wouldn't have got a C when they need an A.
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