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Confused about controlled assessment - please help.

Discussion in 'Music' started by worldoftomorrow, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. My school hasn't run GCSE music for a few years and we're really confused about what the rules are for CA and how things are actually supposed to be done. I have read the Edexcel specification but it offers very little guidance on the nitty-gritty of CA. I've also had a good look on here but I've read conflicting messages and this is compounded by the fact that practice seems different in different subjects.
    On the surface CA doesn't seem much different to coursework as it was when I last taught GCSE. The Edexcel spec only states that the <u>final</u> score writing and recording need be completed under controlled conditions.
    Assuming one can teach the kids and provide feedback/guidance during the non-controlled lessons (as stated by Edexcel) then would it be permissible to do the following?
    <ol>[*]Pupils have composition lessons focussing on say disco music.[*]Kid X works on his bass line on Sibelius with the title "Disco draft".[*]Kid X shows it to me.[*]I make suggestions - "have you thought about changing these rhythms - disco uses some arpeggios and 16th runs" etc.[*]Kid X re-drafts his bassline - it's better.[*]Teach the kids chords and extensions.[*]Kid X puts chords on guitar over the bass (still on "Disco draft" Sibelius score).[*]I give him feedback on chords - "they seem to be clashing in bars 18-20 don't they? Could you check theme against your bass notes?" [*]Kid X makes alterations.[*]Process continues with kit, horns, vocals etc.[*]Kid X has "Disco draft" Sibelius file that sounds great.[*]Controlled condition lessons begin. Kid X sits with two Sibelius windows open on his PC - one is the "Disco draft" score, the other is blank (I understand that draft materials may be brought into controlled lessons by pupils). [*]He copies and pastes "Disco draft" into the blank window, adding a title, candidate name etc.[*]Kid X submits the new file for his coursework.</ol>Now, this sounds wrong to me. BUT I can't see actually where this is a clear contravention of any of the CA rules. Please remember, I'm not proposing to help this hypothetical kid <u>during </u>the CA lesson. I help him during the 'learning' lessons when conditions are not controlled. Though I offer feedback and guidance I don't tell him "put these notes in this order" etc (which would obviously be cheating), I simply make suggestions of things to consider e.g. "remember how we learned about chord extensions? Where could you use them?"etc.
    Any opinions on this would be welcome. Thanks in advance.
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I think what you need is:
    This explains that you must be "100% sure that the work is the student&rsquo;s own", and the booklet makes it clear that this includes any work done in the preparation time.
    It therefore follows that the strategy you outline would not be permissable, since you have made specific suggestions that the student has gone on to implement. In other words, the work is not 100% the student's own work.
    What you can do (and I think this is good practice) is to use the method you outline while teaching how to compose disco music. Making suggestions and even corrections is fine providing this is not work that will be submitted for the exam.
    But when it comes to work that is being submitted for the exam, you must explain to the students that they are not allowed help from you or anyone else. They must remember what they have been taught, but they are now basically on their own. When supervising the work under the high level of control required for the writing-up phase, you must check that no student is using any of the marked/revised work done during the course, as well as checking as best you can that the work is the student's own. As always, the best way of checking on the latter is to look for any unlikely surge in attainment - if in doubt, get the student to write something similar as you look on.
  3. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Perhaps what I should have added is that CA was introduced because of increasing evidence that teachers (and others) were helping candidates with their coursework. I think CA is far from ideal, but it is supposed to provide a more rigorous level of supervision than occurred with coursework.
  4. Thank you very much Mr Gassman, that's a very helpful link (so stupid of me not to have found it myself).
    user="florian gassmann"]What you can do (and I think this is good
    practice) is to use the method you outline while teaching how to compose
    disco music. Making suggestions and even corrections is fine providing
    this is not work that will be submitted for the exam.[/quote]
    sounds good to me. The kid produces disco piece A in class which is
    checked and revised. They then enter controlled conditions and, using
    the skils they've aquired, they produce disco piece B which is
    Sounds fair. Thanks again.

    Does anyone else have advice on how they tackle this element?
    Also, the performances are supposed to be recorded under controlled conditions. I assume therefore that they are supposed to perform a piece I for which I haven't provided feeback.
  5. Hmmm, I've just had a look at the link you provided Florian and the guidance actually seems pretty similar to the scenario I set out in post 1:
    From the above it appears that pupils can use the same material that they've had feedback on.

    See why I'm confused?!
  6. The document also adds this:
    So they can't C&P but if they can input (i.e. type) quickly then that is permissable?!
  7. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I agree that it is not as clear as it should be, but my understanding is that suggestions from the teacher should not be as specific as you suggested. For instance, one might suggest that the rhythms used are not appropriate for the style, and that the student should research the types of rhythm used in disco - but to suggest the use of "arpeggios and 16th-note runs" in the piece to be submitted seems to me to be going too far.
    However, there are several long and ongoing threads in the Opinion forum about the widespread cheating that goes on in controlled assessment, so perhaps I'm being too rigorous. Mind you, as always in these debates the posts are full of accusations that others cheat or have been said to have cheated, "but I'd never do that myself". Make of that what you will!
  8. I see what you mean. However, isn't that just teaching? What else am I supposed to actually teach them in their lessons? The work can't all be research - e.g. "task is to find out what rhythms are used in disco music" because they have to actually be taught some things and also because it would simply take the pupils far too long to learn everything this way. This is the main problem I have in understanding how CA is supposed to work.
    Yes, I've read them - thanks though [​IMG]. It's hard to compare our subject to others I find.

    Can anyone clarify any of this for me? Please!

    PS. Thanks for your help so far Florian.
  9. Don't be too worried about the CA timescale is my advice on top of what you have been given. Ideas and trying out bits and bobs, you appraising and advising them etc. is all included in their prep time. it is the solid ideas that stay that is used as their formal CA time. we keep a chart on the wall that they colour in when they have put in formal ideas that they are happy with.
  10. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Bumping this discussion as I too am interested, especially in AQA GCSE music controlled assessment.
  11. Red wine fan

    Red wine fan New commenter

    I'm coming at this from the OCR perspective. At their last training day where they introduced CA as part of the *new* syllabus, we were given specific examples. So for instance, you can say to a kid: "Go back and listen to bar 18. Are you sure that is how you want it to sound?" but you can't say something like: "Add in passing notes and a walking bassline." You can direct them to bars/features you are not happy with, but you cannot tell them specifically what to do.

    That said, one of the teachers present asked directly What is to stop a kid going to their piano teacher and getting the piece worked out with them on manuscript, then they bring the manuscript in and type it up under Controlled Conditions? The answer was "Nothing"!
  12. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Although if the piano teacher were to mention to another pupil what they had done, and the parents of that other pupil contacted the board, who do you think would be blamed for signing the authentication statement that the piece was entirely the candidate's own work? Not the piano teacher, that's for sure!
  13. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    I'm resurrecting this thread following discussions I've had recently with other music teachers. Everyone seems to be doing this differently.
    Teacher A: "I left composition until the final half term of year 10. I'm not looking at their compositions until they've had their 20 hours - there's no point as I'm not allowed to help them anyway."
    Teacher B: "We have our 20 hours in five sessions of four hours each. School timetables this over two weeks. I don't help them during this time."
    Teacher C: "They continually redraft their compositions based on my feedback. When I'm happy, they type it up again in Sibelius and we count this as their CA time."
    Teacher D: "I just treat it the same as when it was called coursework."

    So frustrated by this. I will not cheat, but I also do not want to put our pupils at a disadvantage through not offering support that I legitimately could be providing.
    What do other teachers do?

    We're doing AQA by the way. 3 year KS4 (4 lessons per fortnight) so quite some time left.

  14. manuscript2007

    manuscript2007 New commenter

    I agree MrB. It is a minefield and everyone seems to have their own interpretation/reading between the lines/ways round it etc.
    If you've got two lessons a week/four per fortnight, and you're going to focus on composition, I would think it is feasible to spend the first lesson of each week looking at methods of composition, devices, phrase length, conventions etc etc so you are essentially giving them a tool kit. Then in the second lesson of the week, they are in CA time and this gets added up in a spreadsheet or similar so you can keep track of it. You can still give them feedback along the way, and maybe you notice that 5 of them are making similar mistake with rhythms or struggling with an accompaniment for their melody, so in your next 'methods' lesson, you concentrate on this, show them examples, get them to do a practical task so they know how it works for whenever they need to do their next CA time and translate that new knowledge into their composition.
    I hope that makes sense! Sorry it's long! This is how I approach it but I would also be interested in how other AQA teachers tackle this. From what your 4 teachers said MrB, it's not as fair as anyone would think.
  15. my understanding is that it is only the final recording of compositions and performances that have to be done under controlled conditions, so there are 20 hours in which to record students' finished work. that's what has been advised by edexcel examiners.
  16. You cannot make specific suggestions, however you could say, 'is there a way to stop chords clashing' indicating at some pint in their piece there are clashes. Have sheets that students fill in each lesson that explain what they have done. Leave a box for feedback, this is filled in by another student after listening to their work in progress.
    Otherwise in work scrutinies etc. you cannot show pupil progress over time.

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