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Cheating in the AQA A Level Computing NEA v cheating in the GCSE NEAs - difference?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by binaryhex, Apr 20, 2019.

  1. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    An ex-colleague recently emailed me. She moved to a new school last September and has to deliver the AQA course NEA at A Level. She seem's to be saying it's another one of those 'secret' assessments so stupidly made part of the old GCSE NEA; students are given a confidential NEA to do, and must keep it a secret with the world i.e. not discuss or share approaches or working solutions in the dark web, www or private forums. I had a quick look around and pulled together quite a few of the many examples of this in the last couple of days and am quite surprised how widespread students working together and sharing solutions, how to make solutions look 'unique' etc anonymously across the web is.

    However, I'm out of the loop with the AQA and other exam boards' NEA at A Level. Is it still a case that NEAs are given to students and then tens of thousands of them are told to keep it a secret, work on their own, not discuss it with others outside the classroom, not share solutions etc, or is my ex-colleague fretting over nothing? Why is cheating in the old GCSE NEA any different to the current A Level NEAs?
  2. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    Not my memory of AQA A level. Each student must complete an individual project. No point sharing their project with anyone as each student has to do a different project.


    The cheating on the old GCSE NEA was rampant because all students were given the same problem to solve. Sharing solutions made sense. The cheating was tolerated for years by all of the exam boards. Whole year groups entered almost identical work and everybody got top marks then failed the theory exams and nobody in the exam boards ever complained. Then it all became publicised, politicians got wind of an impending scandal and suddenly the exam boards started to care.
  3. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    Mmmm. Thanks. The examples I've seen on one dark web forum is of pupils who are working anonymously together (presumably therefore from different schools and all over the country). They were working on a single project but telling each other how to customise bits and especially the context of the problem and the interface, so that they all seemed different. There were loads that followed the same pattern of an online form being used or a searchable database being set up, with some processing of some sort being done and reports produced. They were all helping each other, sharing code and copying. In another forum, there were clearly foreign programmers or students helping, given the level of English, but the code in some of the examples I saw in some threads was faultless.

    The point is, these weren't individual projects. They were all more or less the same. They just appeared different. Is this not cheating? Do the other exam boards at A Level do the same thing?

    If this is cheating, is this yet another major scandal about to explode, that OFQUAL should have been on top of? Did they not investigate this after their failures to get on top of the GCSE NEA?
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I honestly do not see how more than one student can hand in the same or even similar project unless they are in completely different schools. The A level project has to have a customer to whom a thing is delivered. The project needs to contain documentation from the customer approving the product.

    However, it is clearly cheating.
  5. Dorsetdreams

    Dorsetdreams Occasional commenter

    I have to mark this s**t.

    It has ruined my Easter. It is the very worst part of my job. It is the aspect of my job most likely to lead to an early career termination.

    The idea that an A-level student should be able find a project sponsor, who happens to have a project need, which happens to match (and hopefully even stretch) the performance of that particular student, and simultaneously generate evidence which happens to match the stupid mark scheme...

    Well, I wouldn't mind so much being left to chance, except that my job is on the line if the students miss a grade. And being worth 20%, this carp could cost the student two grades. Oh, and speaking of the students, they happen to need to get decent grades too.

    So I can only hope that my students manage to support each other (AKA cheat) effectively.

    But they can't. Because AQA have managed to produce a mark scheme which is so contorted that a moderator can always find an issue with the marking if they choose to do so.

    I know that my anger sounds totally unprofessional. That isn't my normal approach to work or any aspect of my life. But when I read the sarcastic comments in the exam reports and moderator feedback I feel intense anger and loathing the exam board.

    Binaryhex, you've been pointing this out for years. I'm missing your CAS (DC) contributions - did they kick you out? Good luck with your continuing crusade. These b***ds don't deserve to keep their well paid jobs.
    clickschool and SundaeTrifle like this.
  6. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    Dear dorsetdreams I could not agree more.
    In my first year of marking the projects I fell fowl of the AQA moderators. All of my projects took a hit of one whole grade. I then attended an AQA course at which a moderator explained what the mark scheme actually meant. It is impossible to figure out from the criteria what the moderators are actually looking for and there is a lot of inconsistency in the moderators reports. I got much better results in the next few years.

    Anyway, I left England and I will never return.

    CAS is a joke to everyone but themselves. Pompous and delusional and so out-of-touch and annoyingly highly paid. Just what is needed to finish off CS as a subject.
    Dorsetdreams and SundaeTrifle like this.
  7. Dorsetdreams

    Dorsetdreams Occasional commenter

    Ofqual Information for Heads of Centre published Friday 3rd April 2020. Page 6:

    You should not ask students to complete their NEA work and you do not need to submit marks for any completed NEA.

    Every cloud....!

    A-level project marking remains the annual absolute low point of my job. I feel like running down the road cheering. Maybe that could that be my allowed daily activity!
  8. Luvsskiing

    Luvsskiing Established commenter

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