Things are a little different this year for centre-assessed coursework and examinations; particularly for us in Art and Design. For the first time, the Joint Council for Qualification (JCQ) has instructed schools to issue pre-moderated (but internally standardised) marks for GCSE and A levels. Contrary to my post title, we must tell the kids.
Why has this change been made? According to the JCQ:
This requirement is to enable candidates to request a review of the centre’s marking prior to the marks being submitted to the awarding body, should they wish to do so, and will facilitate the operation of a fair review process.
It is up to individual schools or MATs to manage this process, and in many cases it has been left to the teacher assessors to decide how and when this will be done providing there is sufficient time for a review to take place. Again, the guidance stipulates only that a review takes place by someone with sufficient subject knowledge independent of the original assessment.
In recent weeks, students of art and design should have been informed of both component 1 coursework marks and component 2 exam marks. All without any reference to grades or boundary levels as this is the first assessment of its kind.
Many GCSE and A level art courses take a great deal of time to assess and internally standardise and the deadline is either 15th May or 31st May depending on the exam board the school has chosen. This new requirement has meant that an earlier deadline was necessary in order to allow for a written appeal request and an independent review. The consensus is that this year’s assessment has been rushed and meaningless marks given to students. Now that students have seen their centre marks they can either (a) shrug and say wait and see what the boundaries are for each grade or if the external moderator moves grades or (b) request a review in writing.
If they choose option (a) marks can be adjusted by the external moderator by up to 20 marks (although there is a tolerance of two or three they never tell you about). When they get their results in August they could approach the school or academy for a re-mark (despite already having had the new opportunity to challenge). This costs time and delays for everyone and maybe this is the exact thing that JCQ were trying to avoid in the first place.
If they choose option (b), the art teacher has to find someone to look at the work, possibly re-marking it. Who is sufficiently knowledgeable? D and T staff maybe or colleagues working on quid-pro-quo from a neighbouring school.
What is this actually all about?
At face value it seems to be an element of ‘parent power’ designed to give mum and dad a level of inspection of these obviously biased teachers. Is it to demonstrate that the regular reporting teachers are obliged to send to parents about pupil progress actually has some parallel in marks internally awarded? Perhaps it is to dam the deluge of re-marking that takes place in the first weeks of September, the cost implications and lost time that comes about when a student is unhappy with a grade. It does seem to be an undermining of trust and the professionalism of teacher assessment and I am surprised the teaching unions have not questioned its introduction.
One thing is for sure; we have all done a lot of very rapid marking this year in order to comply and I do worry about how this will enable accuracy.