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Are you an examiner? Your views wanted

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by edexamchat, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. edexamchat

    edexamchat New commenter

    As an examiner working across various examboards I'd like to improve the lot of examiners by making the process of examiner recruitment and retention be more examiner friendly.

    So I've teamed up with The Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors (CIEA) to seek views on how to improve the current turnover rate of 25% for school exam markers here in the UK:


    Research by one of the largest exam bodies providing school exams shows that many examiners are dropping out due to low pay and lack of time when combined with a full-time teaching roll.

    So do you have any ideas on how to improve things? You tell me!
  2. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    "exam boards". How that phrase takes me back...

    My first external examining work was with the West Midlands Examinations Board in 1973. There was also an East Midlands Examinations Board - and so many others around the country, all autonomous and free to design and offer syllabuses (not "specifications" then) just as they pleased. TWMEB was one of those that offered CSE only.

    I suppose it was the beginning of the end for exam boards when the national curriculum came in, and exam boards had to conform to NC requirements and assessment criteria. Their numbers dwindled as mergers occurred and their demise was duly announced in 2001 when we discovered that they were officially no more. We were no longer to be offered contracts by exam boards because they had ceased to exist - and from then till now it's been Awarding Bodies that employ the examiners. (I found out not that long ago that I'm an ASP for one of them. Assessment Services Provider.)
  3. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Pay decent wages and stop devaluing the job by letting any Tom, Dick or Harry mark.
  4. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Marked in my early career, and again now having retired. Pay seems to be less now.
    Biggest problem, and this does seem worse, is deciding if what students have written is a correct answer to the question. Although, it is usually students command of the language, often it is poorly written questions.
    Some questions can be marked by anyone, some can be marked by a computer, some need good subject knowledge, some need to teacher of a subject.
    I stopped marking years ago because of promotion giving me less time and the last exams that I marked taking twice as long to mark due to the nature of the questions.
  5. edexamchat

    edexamchat New commenter

    Thanks for kicking off the discussion.

    Pay seems to come up quite a lot when talking about examining, so I'd be interested to know if pay was any better in the days of the regional examboards - as mentioned by @markuus.

    Any thoughts - better then than now?
  6. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    If you allow for inflation, but remove the old admin time of handling papers, adding them up, filling in marks on a special form, going to the post office, I wouldn't think there's been much fall in real pay per hour committed to examining.
    I'm aware that in my subject some people mark m-u-c-h more s--l--o--w--l--y than others; faster markers have better pay per hour, and I fancy aren't any less reliable.
    That said, I think that the attraction of marking will always be financial more than professional development and if more examiners need recruiting and retaining, then there will need to be better rewards. I have no idea what proportion of an exam fee goes on marking, but I imagine it's quite large, and therefore the scope for increasing pay is small.
  7. edexamchat

    edexamchat New commenter

    Any suggestions on what would be a reasonable rate for marking an exam paper that would also make you want to come back and mark again?

    I'm aware some easier Functional Skills papers pay about £1, while GCSEs range from about £3.50 to about £6 to mark a paper. Then again professional exams, like accountancy, pay up to £30.

    What rate would make you mark again?
  8. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    As an examiner I am annoyed by tactic currently being employed by AQA who have incorporated their standardisation fee into their marking fee - devalues the time and effort that person puts in attending the online meeting and the standardisation task. Often these standardisation meetings are at the weekend or during a holiday and again a £60 fee when the teacher release paid in term time would have been £180 teacher release and a face to face meeting at £150 so what message does this send to how much they value your effort. You are expected to give up that day for this meeting and completing the standardisation task within 24hrs so £60 is an insult. Maybe a day out over the weekend with my children would be preferred to sitting at a computer for a day.
    Many exam boards are in the same position of trying to recruit new examiners with experience and qualifications in those subjects - lots of new specification coming along. This is a market place and exam boards have to make it worth my while and make me feel valued.
  9. edexamchat

    edexamchat New commenter

    Makes the 25 quid I get for a 2&half hour telephone group standardisation with another examboard seem quite reasonable
  10. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    Absolutely ridiculous you are getting down to living wage territory not the sort of money a professional teacher should expect - I've always worked on the basis of £25 an hour at least.
    All the more reason not to work for this exam board.
  11. edexamchat

    edexamchat New commenter

    So does anyone have any examples of good behaviour by an examboard which has gone 'above and beyond' to try and retain you as an examiner?

    Received a surprise food hamper from one over Christmas, being positively encouraged to submit expenses & fee claim forms by another....any others that you've come across?
  12. DuckMeat

    DuckMeat New commenter

    Making the process for progression to a team leader/ principal explicit and transparent. I examine GCSE's for AQA and enjoyed the challenge. I'll be marking this year again, but don't know what the future steps that need to be bridged are.
  13. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I mark for the SQA. They pay a decent rate and the process is straightforward. No gimmicks needed.
  14. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    I am an expert examiner for a major board and get paid by the question, not by the paper, and it has always been this way

    I've been doing it for a several years. I work part-time so it fits in very well and supplements my teaching income nicely.

    It's not brilliantly paid, but it is pretty straightforward. I think some people struggle with it as the number of unmarked questions seems to rise annually... I expect it's a struggle to get people with the subject knowledge, and who are willing to do it while still teaching full-time
  15. edexamchat

    edexamchat New commenter

    They sound a very decent bunch to work with - but don't they insist that their examiner teach their qualifications? As their reach is mostly Scotland doesn't that limit the applicants to teachers working in Scotland?
  16. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Yes. It means a better quality of marker who actually has the awareness of the course content to make judgements on whether a candidate has met the criteria.

    There are still errors but if you look at the stats very few remarks get a change in grade compared to what is reported for the English boards.
  17. edexamchat

    edexamchat New commenter

    It took me quite a while to figure out that you actually had to apply to be a Principal Examiner - after all the role of Team Leader had been awarded to me after several years of good reports as a marker. So once I twigged that then I started trawling the examiner job vacancies on all the examboard websites. Try it, you'll find new openings pop up all the time and then just try! What I did find helped in going for these posts is showing you can write a half decent exam question because not many applicants can. You'll probably be asked to provide a sample on application - make sure you put the copyright symbol on them just to be sure they don't pop up anywhere else. If you want a starter on how to go about writing questions then this is my take:
  18. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Lead commenter

    I've always had a pretty good experience marking, including sweeteners for taking on extra marking at short notice and bonuses when there have been IT problems. Last year from two awarding bodies I took home in excess of £2 500.
  19. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    I think lots more would mark if you could actually mark on a paper, as opposed to online. Lots of IT issues and finicky problems, was nicer when you could just take a paper and pen and get down to it. If they changed that, some very knowledgable and experienced teachers would do it (not sure if I would due to other commitments, but I know of lots of markers of all ages/ IT lovers/haters who would only do it again if paper and ink based.
  20. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Disagree, I'm afraid. With the IT running well (and it does now, although I have had frustrations in the past), you can focus on the marking and let the admin take care of itself. No need to check scripts, log their arrival, check addition, get someone to check your checking, transfer marks to another form, parcel scripts up with the right cover sheets, take them to the post office, maintain a posting log, maintain another list of stamps paid for, and all the rest. No need to send sample marking off, wait for a response, then do the next batch having amended the samples. I could go on... Just focus on the real issue: the candidates' work and the mark scheme.
    wanet likes this.

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