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Controlled Assessments

Discussion in 'English' started by jackhoward, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. With the disappearance of coursework and the arrival of Controlled Assessments, what ideas do we have for preparing pupils for these?
     
  2. I haven't done anything different in my general teaching. As for the planning for the CA sessions, that has been the light touch support that is now allowed. I have done a fair bit of discussing with the class or small groups the kind of things they should be writing about, and then giving them their books and what they remember etc they use in some form. ALways steering clear of content and giving advice about structure. WHile they are doing it, with CAs of more than an hour, I have had a skim of the work they have produced and written a list of general things they have done (which I tell them in the following session are good) and a list of things they have missed or not done which I deliver as a "Don't forget...." list before I hand out their work.
     
  3. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    Is this allowed? We're AQA and I thought we weren't allowed to give any feedback once they started writing.
     
  4. sweetie1

    sweetie1 New commenter

    Gloria - I'm with you on this. We have been told that we can't look at their work and that we shouldn't discuss anything at all with the students. It's a real worry that there are so many grey areas. We've done one controlled assessment in this way and the results were pretty awful.
    I'm feeling very cynical, having read Arthur's post!
     
  5. Our understanding is that you can't give individual pupils feedback but you could, part way through, give very generalised advice.
    E.G. Half an hour into writing task, teacher circulating notices several pupils not paragraphing. 'Right, let's stop the class for 15 minutes and refresh on how to use paragraphs' 15 minutes later 'OK, let's start writing again.'
    Is this cheating? Not sure I have to admit.
     
  6. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    I'm sure we were told at an AQA meeting that once children started writing, there could be no teacher input. Perhaps that's changed?
     
  7. regentsreject

    regentsreject Occasional commenter


    All those posters who are saying "no teacher input once the CA has started" are absolutely correct. You should not even look at the work part way through as the temptation to intervene may be too much to resist. One of the main reasons for switching to CA was to get away from too much teacher input and ensure that students were writing independently and THINKING FOR THEMSELVES (which is what they need to do in exams), so telling them half way through what they are doing well and what they need to improve, even in a generalised, whole class way is completely wrong. As for stopping a CA half way through and revising the rules for paragraphing....I am speechless. That is cheating and must stop immediately!!

     
  8. Yikes! I need to speak to our HOD asap...
     
  9. sweetie1

    sweetie1 New commenter

    Thanks for the clarification here Regents. This is what our centre understood the rules to be. It's a little worrying that our students may not do as well as others because we've followed the rules, I have to say!
     
  10. I think we are talking at cross purposes here. Once the pupils have started actually writing the controlled assessment there can be no teacher input whatsoever. We do AQA and I must admit the advice we have been given at the courses has been patchy, inconsistent and at times contradictory. Before they do the CA, however, there must be teacher input. the idea of just giving them a topic/title/task and letting the pupils "do their own thing" seems to me to be utter madness as well as an abrogation of our job as a teacher. If the pupils were capable of doing the task from scratch without guidance, ideas and help, what are they learning?
    When introducing each unit, I certainly talk through in detail possible approaches, structures, etc. I give examples and allow them to prepare thoroughly, feeding back on what they do in practice. If they want to have a go at drafting sections, that's fine - they cannot, of course, take any of this into the CA and, as I said, once the CA begins, no help, hints, feedback, discussion at all.
    For every CA (we have done 3) I have attempted the task myself in advance of beginning the unit - blind and in the exact time allowed. It is the only way I can discover the possible pitfalls and problems.
     
  11. Of course you can't give help or hints once CA has begun; HOWEVER,.... If the work is on your desk in a folder and not in front of the children, the CA session has not begun. If you notice a major problem with your class's CAs when having a quick flick through them, the natural thing is to do a lesson on the 'problem' before continuing with the CA. Keeping it discreet keeps it within the rules. Not sure what I mean? Here's the kind of thing I said to my Y10 when doing the Shakespeare part of the WJEC Unit 3 Lit CA: "I'm pleased with what you have done. You are doing the right kind of thing. Couple of things to remember: Point, Evidence, Explain and Comment. Lots of evidence in your work but some of you might need to look at the level of detail when explaining or commenting. Remember to refer to your notes. You made them for a reason. Don't forget paragraphs. Some of you have. If you wrote a page and a half in the last session, or thereabouts, you completed the right amount and you are on course to get it done in the time you have. If you are bit behind that, don't worry. You'll still be alright if you crack on with it today. Once you get your work, it's silence for the next 45 minutes of controlled assessment time." Helpful reminders for the student, general, and the student has to decide if any of it is relevant to them. Note, I say nothing specific, nothing that gives them extra help. All it does is refocus and remind students.
     
  12. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    Yes, we were told that exam only was going to be offered and that it would possibly be the only route within five years!
    Your point about CA/exam reminds me that at the Preparing to Teach meeting, we were told that we should think of ourselves as invigilators from the moment the CA started until everything is collected in for the last time.
    Maybe WJEC are more flexible about how the CAs are done?

     
  13. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    Ok, so here's what my HOD was told (by AQA):
    If you are halfway through a controlled assessment and realise that your class are falling down in some area, in the next session you could do a lesson on that skill or whatever, using a different text from the one the assessment is on, and making no mention at all of why you might be doing this! They then carry on with the assessment next lesson.
    I find this hilarious. I don't know what you are supposed to do when a pupil asks why the random lesson is happening. Tap your nose and wink conspiratorially?
    I haven't done it, I hasten to add. Sadly, the group I have this year are so extremely dozy (and not even a bottom set!) that even if I were I prepared to break every single rule for them, they would somehow contrive to produce tripe.
     
  14. Clive_Candy

    Clive_Candy Occasional commenter

    Isn't the problem here that we're expecting teachers to be both poachers and gamekeepers? We want our students to do well - we're judged on their results! The reality is that if the boards want to avoid teachers having an inappropriate amount of input into students' work then they must assess it by means of externally marked examination.
     
  15. We were told pretty much the same thing today by the OCR examiner today. However he did warn us to be cautious in doing so as it may cause the students to panic and shoe horn in any hints you give them effecting their continuity and possibly prevent them from getting those top marks for a cogent answer.
    My department pretty much agreed that we would only be interfering in extreame cases.
     
  16. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Of course it's cheating!! I can't believe that your school has interpretted things in this way.
    This document clearly sets out what guidance may be offered. In 'high supervision', no guidance or feedback of any sort is allowed to be given. So reminding pupils to use paragraphs, having seen that several of them are not would, indeed, be cheating.
    http://store.aqa.org.uk/support/pdf/AQA-CONTROLLED-ASSESSMENT-LEAFLET.PDF

    See page 8.
     
  17. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    I agree with Eva. Surely the point of the guidance is that it is NOT open to interpretation - high control essentially means exam conditions (apart from the desks and me being there with them). If people are reading over the work between sessions and offering general advice, then my students are already at a disadvantage, because they have had their unread work locked away between sessions, and have had no feedback at all.
    This makes me really angry, actually.
     
  18. Don't get angry- it's wasted energy!
    I can totally appreciate the guidance given should be followed - actually our deputy head who suggested we might be able to do what I had previously suggested.
    If it is the case that we must sit the children in exam conditions, not help and not offer any feedback then bring on the exam only syllabus...there'll be no confusion, I won't have to invigilate and I won't have to mark them!!
     
  19. I think this illustrates the sheer chaos that exists at present! I must admit, when I started this string, I was thinking more along the lines of sharing ideas and tips; I hadn't anticipated the focus switching to the procedures and interpretaions thereof (maybe I should have)!
    Now, of course, I cannot resist adding another thought. Several contributors have suggested that the switch to an external exam would be welcome. I can see the attraction from the point of view of equality but I do wonder if final external exams deny some students of showing their other skills. Even more of a concern, however, is that I do not trust the exam boards to mark accurately. We have had horrific experiences with AQA and we all know how flawed English marking can be and just how reluctant exam boards are to admit their mistakes. Over the years I have seen such dire marknig by exam boards that I despair at their ability to manage it. SATs marking was a scandal - incompetent markers, incompetent checking, incompetent response and I wish I could say that GCSE is much more professionally done. It is - but only marginally.
     
  20. Not sure where you got get this from. CA is coursework done with the control of being completed entirely in school so that students can not get parents to do it, get essay plans that are so detailed as to render the student's involvement as negligible or download the essay from the internet. It was not and is not an exam.
     

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