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AQA AS essay marking.....

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by thepigandthefrog, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. For the second year in a row we have some very strange FREN1/SPAN1 essay question marks awarded. Weaker students have been given much higher marks than students who are very much better than them. The same has happened in Spanish. I have 2 very experienced teachers on the Spanish plus the French is taught by me and another very experienced teacher. We have all done the AQA INSET on the essay paper and we spent a lot of time preparing them for it this year because of the weird results last year.
    I've just been checking the enhanced results analysis and it is definitely the essay paper. As an example one of our better students scored 83% on the questions answered up to the essay (62/75) and then scored just 9/35 on the essay question (5/2/1/1). He has gained straight As in his other subjects and is now considering dropping French because of this result. Weaker students than him got more on the essay and the results for that question are really all over the show. In Spanish, a student who is the best in the group was given just 8/20 for content.
    We did lots of practice essays prior to the exam and they seemed to be hitting the necessary criteria. The other annoying thing with this question is that the language marks are capped by the content mark which instantly hits hard if the content mark is low.
    It seems to me that students are showing that they can perform well across the board in French/Spanish and are then having their results ruined by one question, which does not accurately reflect their ability in the language.
    I would be really grateful for any suggestions from schools who do perform well in this question as I cannot see what else we can do to ensure that the best candidates do not have their grade dragged down by the content mark in this question.
     
  2. I completely agree with you. All my students' results have been pulled down by the essay. A typical scenario from our Spanish group saw one student getting 67/75 up to the essay or (89%) and then 19/35 (10,3,3,3) or 54% on the essay. With,as you say, her vocab., structures and accuracy all reflecting the poor content mark. I too have attended the necessary courses, and as a class we have been doing timed essays once a week since Feb half term so I could really judge how they were doing with no facebook or phones in class! (Or so I thought...) Re. spending this afternoon analysing results. Have I missed something on the "skill" results analysis? In order to know the breakdown of marks for the listening, reading& writing, writing section, (which I consider to be the skills ) I have literally looked at the individual questions and added them up!! Quite time consuming. I could only find a topic breakdown on "skills topic analysis" ie how the students did on cinema/ technology/relationships etc which didn't interest me. Oh well GCSEs next week[​IMG]
     
  3. log in to enhanced results analysis, choose marks analysis, input subject details and choose search button on RHS of screen. Choose view components, choose view questions then view marks. Essay questions are BC, BV, BS, BA which equates to section B: content vocab structures and accuracy the individual students' marks are listed in each category but like Petite Joyeuse I have no idea how to find out which essay the students chose. as mentioned above I had to work through all the questions to assess how the students performed in listening v reading v grammar sentences v essay. If anyone knows how to access this info through the site I would be grateful for the update.
     
  4. Thanks so much for taking the time to explain: I thought you had to ask for the script back in order to get the breakdown of the marks. Your clear explanation has helped me see each kid's strengths & weaknesses and will help me determine where to focus. Thanks Zumbaqueen[​IMG]
     
  5. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    http://frenchteachernet.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/problem-with-essays.html
    I posted this link on another thread too. Our AS essay marks were also very varied and I agree with those who say that content is over-valued.
    Do we really want to assess how many points a candidate can make about the dangers of the internet? I am more interested in their linguistic ability.
     
  6. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    The information about which essay the candidate did is nolonger available.
    By using Excel's autosum function at various points in the spreadsheet you can create your own summary table: questions 1-4 for listening, 5-8 for reading, 9 for grammar, and 10 with the 4 columns for the writing. While on the one hand this provides a good, clear view of how the students have performed and using Word's mail merge function enables you to give the candidates a print out of their marks which can then be compared with the grade boundaries, it does require a reasonable knowledge of Excel and Word, patience and plenty of trial and error till you get it right. For most people, concentrating on analysing the data and looking at the action needed from it are more important than creating a nice spreadsheet.
     
  7. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    This is a question for AQA users. I have asked for the photocopy of some papers, and whilst I understand "tick" and "NR" (not relevant), I've seen a few little wriggles (looks like an upside-down little v), anybody knows what it stands for?
    One of my students wrote a beautiful essay, really complex language, had 15 ticks for content, yet was given 11 marks for content and 20/35 overall. I'm appealing, but he's already decided to give up French, grrr!
     
  8. vacherin

    vacherin New commenter

    The reverse of this is definitely true also. We had a number of African native speakers who find writing difficult but they gained lots of marks for content and outperformed other students(some French native speakers who write much more accurately) who were very accurate. This seems inherently unfair to me.
     
  9. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Noémie - 15 ticks for content is a lot. Sounds a mean mark unless structure was very poor.
     
  10. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Structure was textbook - steve, any idea what the little upside-down v could be? That's my sign when I mark for "something missing" but in this context it doesn't make sense...
     
  11. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    We've known about the AQA AS essay marking problem for at least the 6 years I've been at my current school, which takes it back to the previous syllabus, and we just don't seem to be able to crack it.
    We work very hard on making sure students know what the markscheme requires, we get papers back, we go to AQA feedback, talk to teachers online etc... We try to make sure that students make it clear they are answering the exact question. Make points clearly. Give evaluation, tenses, plenty of examples for each point. Link the whole, and lead logically to a conclusion.
    This year in Spanish we had pupils getting A in the oral, very good marks in the L, R and grammar sections, then getting 4/20 for Content on the essay.
    Can't be because of lack of clarity, because very fluent and including a native speaker who got 8/20.
    Looking at the examiner's report, and going by previous years' experience, it must be because of "irrelevance". The examiner's report says that many candidates who did the cinema essay did badly because they failed to define "hoy" in "El cine de hoy".
    One year we got a script back for an essay on TV. A candidate had written a paragraph on how ridiculous it is that there's a war on, children are starving, but if you buy a newspaper, the front cover is all about Big Brother. This whole paragraph had been marked as not relevant because they hadn't realised it was making a point about TV.
    Also going by the list of suggested points in the markschemes, it does seem that keeping it very simple is best. Suspect anything intellectual will not attract content marks. We work on it every year but there are always good candidates whose essay marks are bonkers.
    A good exam would test the candidates' Spanish. Not the teacher's doomed attempts to fathom the workings of the marking system.
     
  12. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Examiners like that aren't worthy of the name. This business of content capping other criteria is all well and good because candidates should stick to the point and not write anything irrelevant, but surely examiners have more sense than what's described in veverett's post. Once you've decided something's irrelevant the bits taken out then distort the balance of the essay, and the candidate gets hammered. That makes a mockery of senior examiners' claims that they bend over backwards to award marks.
    In the former Fr02/Gr02/Sp02 papers of a few years ago, there were similar concerns and one of AQA's trainers admitted that paper 2 had been a disaster. Looks like the replacement is not faring much better. Fren3/Germ3/Span3 is better because of the bullet points in the specification, but to get to A2 a decent grade at AS is required.
    These are AS candidates who only a year or 9 school months earlier were doing GCSEs in which controlled assessment was used to test writing, and that had been completed well before the summer term and even in year 10, so as to clear the way for listening and reading.
    When I look at examiner's reports, I really despair at some of the remarks in there.
     
  13. vacherin

    vacherin New commenter

    All of this begs the question, why is content more important than any of the other criteria? I would agree with a high mark for content when the title is open to greater interpretation. We are now faced with real problems as langiage teachers. I do AQA for both GCSE and AS/A2 but will concentrate on AS(as we lose so many at this stage!).
    Speaking- GCSE gives great rewards for much pre-learnt material(full marks possible in 2x CAs). AS- pre-learnt material leads to whole scale reduction in mark.
    Writing- CAs encourage a broad task title to encompass a wide variety of content. AS- peripherally relevant or indeed quite generally relevant materia is ignored, leading to low content marks.
    I am lost!
     

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