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Edexcel GCSE drama results: a world of make-believe

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by sackbarrow, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. I am HOD and have taught only Drama full time for 7 years. I have worked with the Ed Excel spec for four years. (I taught AQA before that.) I have NEVER had the marking from my department questioned. Last year Ed-Excel commented on the high standard of the marking of my team and told that our sample was used as exemplar material at Ed Excel moderation training.
    I read and prepared for the new spec as much as I could. This year, however, I am furious, upset, dissapointed and doubting my ability as a teacher to accurately assess the practical and written work of my students.
    I had a cohort of 60 Drama students and it was the best cohort I and my colleagues have taught for years. The standard of their written work was very high and the practical work was often inspirational.
    The moderator for Unit 2 altered a couple of marks but kept the performance marks the same.
    The Unit 3 marks don't make sense to me in that a D grade performer whose absent rate was so high meant he was only on stage for a couple of minutes right at the beginnign of his group's performance was given an A and another student who I would rate as high A grade was given a low C, I may query a couple of individual marks.
    <u>My real issue is with Unit One.</u> I received the sample work back in early July with no feedback at all. Yesterday when frantically looking at the breakdown of results to see why they weren't what I expected I saw that the Unit one moderator had deducted 20 or 22, yes TWENTY or TWENTY TWO marks from most students. I had awarded three students with full marks for performance: 40/40 and these were changed to 24/40. Doc response marks were altered by as much as TEN marks.
    I phoned the exam board immediately assuming there was some mistake but the data they had matched what I had in front of me. I was told that there was feedback from the moderator which I could request and read online. I read the feedback and there was no justification for the marks to be lowered at all let alone by so much. Two of the sample doc responses had exceeded the word count and I needed to identify the students on the DVD more clearly. Does this justify that all 60 of the students had their marks altered by so much that some of them dropped TWO GRADES?
    I have applied for EAR type 3 - a total remoderation of Unit 1.
    I am worried that I am now completely incompetent and have already completed the Unit One assessments with current year 10s/new year 11s which is a cohort of 80. I am questioning mine and my colleagues' marking of their work.
    I am pretty sure that the remoderation will alter grades, but until that comes back in a few weeks I am really doubting my ability.
    I phoned the exam board for a second time yesterday afternoon and it has 'been noted' that I received no feedback e samples were returned. They clarified the procedure for remoderation. Apart from that they were fairly useless and unsympathetic.
    I am disgusted that they can alter marks by so much and not inform the teacher. On top of that the students receieved the break down of their marks this year on their results sheet for many subjects including Drama. Students knew their marks for Units 1 and 2 as they had to sign the cover sheets. Some saw 'C' for unit one where they should have read 'A.'
    I am expecting emails and phone calls from many parents in the near future.
    My overall pass rate was 86% A* - C which I know is ok, but I am shocked, surprised, dissapointed and questioning my competency.
    I am now looking at the Drama specs of other exam boards.
     
  2. Hi Miss D Q. Your results like mine look good as a percentage and maybe that is how it is all being standardised at Edexcel, i.e a certain percentage each year must achieve a grade A* to C to keep the figures balanced. However definite high ability students performing well deserve at least an A. Two years work involving lots of prep, plans, assessments, videos, line learning ....well you know the score. To end up with a subject that students eventually will shun because it isn't yielding reasonably good grades for the talented is a joke. At my school year 10's are already wondering if they have made the right choice. As for myself, an early acting career, recognition for students attaining top places in drama competitions, twice Best Drama teacher award (only cos the kids did well!) excellent results in previous years using similar praised topics etc and now questioning, one, my ability to get the students good grades next year and also feeling less than enthusiastic and a little depressed about carrying through this years planned programme if the end result is poor.
    :(
     
  3. I have a very similar situation to the ones described so far, and as above poster, have been looking at the differences between my marks and the moderation marks. The thing that strikes me at the moment is that for some students, their marks were reduced by 35%, while others were reduced by 30% or 25% and so on. How could we have been wrong by 35% on some marks but only by 25% on other students? I could understand this if it applied to the students in the moderation sample, as their work has been looked at, but it applies to all of them, even the practical marks of the ones who were not on the DVD recording we sent.
    As for my moderator comments, they are vague and unhelpful, praising the work records and tasks set by saying that they allowed my students to reach their full potential in one paragraph and then stating that there was a lack of evidence of all the specification in a different paragraph.
    It is difficult for me to believe that out of 40 students I didn't have one able to achieve an A, despite a number of them obtaining A grades in the unit 3 exam.
    I am going to try and get it all remoderated. And leave Edexcel.
     
  4. If you have some unit 3 A grade students having their unit 1 or 2 marks greatly lowered you do have a foot to stand on because you can say somebody has seen these pupils and observed them to be talented. so appeal! Most of us have problems with unit 2 AND unit 3, so when appealing Edexcel can respond with a 'No' because their examiner has seen our pupils and graded them useless!
     
  5. Maybe then start by appealing the unit 2 marks and once they are back, appeal the unit 3? In a dream world what would happen is that unit 2 would be remoderated and found to be better, and then unit 3 could be appealed. i know, dream world. So sorry.

     
  6. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Have spent the past 48 hours speking to colleagues in other schools and ALL of us have had Unit 1 or 2 moderated down.
    Call me cynical but after the Examiner's Report has identified such general over-marking and basically incorrect marking by teachers, I am certain a leaflet will arrive over the next few days offering Edexcel Training courses in these units at ridiculous prices.
    If there really is such a widespread and (ahem) dramatic disparity in marking of the coursework units, then there is something wrong with the materials for teachers and training should be provided FREE of charge for all teachers taking the highly risky decision to continue with this spec next year.
    I wholeheartedly blame Edexcel for a lack of exemplar materials - the ones which are given on the web-site are all band 2 or below (band 3 or below in one unit) - how are teachers supposed to be able to identify what outstanding looks like if Edexcel couldn't even produce one example this year? Yes, the report states they will now produce this for us - but too little and far too late for the seemingly thousands of pupils who have suffered lower grades this year.
    I wonder if there is anyone on here who would be willing to share examples of SOWs or student work which was successfully verified as band 1 by a moderator?
    I am VERY relieved that I am taking over a new department and running both units with year 11 this year so that I will now start from scratch in planning the delivery of the units (to suit what is written in the examiner's report).
    As a PP has said,the most disappointing thing was that this new spec was sold as being "very similar" to the old one, when clearly there is a whole new way of moderating this work which, as teachers, we are not privee to.
    From reading another thread on here which has got quite nasty, I understand why people might blame the teacher for not studying the spec etc, but in reality the spec is vague and the assessment criteria are highly open to interpretation. There also appears to be a lot of discrepancy between what was written in the Teacher's Guide (which cost a bl**dy fortune) and what is now being advised in the examiner's report.
    One final thing about Unit 3 (for which I am an examiner) - the student is marked on what we see of them. There is no where in the criteria which allows for credit to be given for playing a maon role versus a smaller role, otherwise all teachers would end up trying to find plays where line quantity was identical etc. They are marked for the time they are on-stage. Providing that it is clear that they understand the form of the piece and that they create their role with depth and clarity and communicate it effectively to the audience, it is entirely possible for someone playing a smaller role to come out with band 1 and the main role a Band 3 etc. One example - I examined Too Much Punch For Judy by Mark Wheller at some point this year. One boy only played the witness who is first on the scene of the crash - he only has a monologue and was then part of the ensemble elements. He came out with a 75 whilst the girl playing Judy, who was in most scenes gained a 56. We can only mark what we see, as Ginny Spooner says repeatedly on standardisation training day.
    I think it is also worth noting that with the new criteria, there is some degree to which the "challenge" of the form of the piece is given some credit. Some teachers use play scripts which are designed for KS3 or do not stretch and challenge the students in terms of form or depth of role. On the other hand, some teachers use incredibly challenging scripts (I saw some Pinter done terribly) but have not given the students the skills with which to tackle the complex form.
    With devising work, this notion of "form" is even more apparent and open to interpretation.
    If you are really struggling with the Unit 3, I can only say that becoming an examiner for the unit has improved my candidates' marks drastically - I have access to the marking sheets etc and also to the examokes shown at standardisation and I get paid to go to other schools and watch work which in some cases blows my mind and in others shocks me to the core (that teachers can underprepare their students so badly).
     
  7. I would be happy to share. We did a scheme called Punch and Judy (mental health) for Unit 1 and Blood Brothers for Unit 2. Our written marks were held for controlled assessment in both units and also for practical in Unit 1. However, our practical work in Unit 2 was marked down by 7 marks. Overall, this had an effect on a handful of students who missed out on a grade because of this. Our results are still excellent with 61% achieving A* or A and 98% A*-C overall. However, with all this uncertainty, I am worried about maintaining this for next year. Our Unit 3 marks were also not bad and to be honest, fair. Our top mark was 117 out of 120 (UMS), a large amount of 116s, then more in the 90s and probably the majority in the 80s. We did devising for our options.
     
  8. A couple of questions to examiners please. First of all would we be allowed to share videoed work and accept honest comments from each other? With student permission of course. I mean there's plenty on Youtube but with no teacher comments or idea of awarded grade. One of the difficulties I have is that when everybody thinks the pupils were brilliant in unit 3 and they receive low grades, it would be nice to have some extra, experienced input.
    Secondly when I mentioned on here that the examiner praised the pupils after the performance, one poster said that was very unprofessional and another, like myself wondered if a team leader reduced the marks. The spec states that the dvd is only looked at if we ask for remoderation and we all know that watching it on dvd loses a little of the atmosphere, so is it possible this was done and why? We deserve experienced and knowledgeable visiting moderators and if not, another examiner should watch with them on the day. Am I likely to get a moderator reprimanded if I inform Edexcel of moderator's comments at the performance session when I appeal? The more I think about it the more crazy it drives me grrrrrrrrr!
     
  9. I am going into my fourth year of teaching and still feel totally shakey with the Edexcel spec and my ability to deliver and mark it. This is despite the fact that I have attended EVERY training course Edexcel offer (which, I was highly disappointed with - they pretty much spent most of the time reading through what we had already read in the spec via a PP presentation). I have also forked out for all their resources, consulted all their on line resources and even resorted (since our marks were severally reduced last year) to completely delivering their sample BB's SOW from the teacher guide to the note - I figured, if they don't trust me to be creative as a teacher and deliver my own SOWs that, according to what I understand, meet the spec requirements, then I'll do EXACTLY what they suggest....goodbye soul!

    Several particular gripes of mine:

    1. The Edexcel materials are overpriced and some (namely the DVD's) are completely un-helpful! They should provide examples of the practical work for Units 1 & 2 with commentary, but they do not and the Unit 3 pieces do not give any indication of marks or grades - complete waste of money.

    2. The word count restrictions (particularly for Unit) are RIDICULOUS!! How the hell students are supposed to include a sense of all 6 hours of workshops in 1000 words and show depth of analysis and evaluation is beyond me.

    3. My colleague attended the coursework unit training and was provided with a massive pack of exemplary paperwork that teachers had produced to track the 5 students identified for moderating the workshops. This was work that went above and beyond what is required on the ICE paperwork, so, like a mug I produced the same for this cohort of students and it took me HOURS!! They MUST make it clearer what it is that they want from us!

    Despite all of this, I was thrilled with our A*-C percentage as after achieving 26% last year, we raised it to 68% so we must have done something right! I haven't been given the break down for unit marks yet, but I'm desperately hoping that the moderator was happy with the coursework units this years - especially since I delivered their own SOW for Unit 2.

    I completely agree with the comments about all of Edexcel's moderator comments online being difficult to decipher - I have a first class honours degree and (as everyone on this thread has said) work my butt off to try and get it right for these kids, but why do we have to be rocket scientists to deliver this spec correctly? And, why do the students have to be professional actors to have any hope of achieving that elusive Outstanding?

    Ok, that's my rant over!
     
  10. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    I can't see that they would reprimand you for something she/he said. We are told over and over again as examiners that you say NOTHING - EVER!! Only "Thank you" or a clap a the end. No feedback at all, on or off the record. This year we were pretty much told not to even speak to the centre at all - not even a chat about the weather etc!
    However in terms of a "higher" examiner watching the dvd I'd say it is likely this year. Every examiner was accompanied on at least one visit (this year because of the new spec - this is not the norm) and then also had at least one other centre moderated by a team leader (this is the norm anyway). Some centres are also moderated by team leaders if the school have previously had issues. New examiners have three centres moderated by their team leader this year (two accompanied). If you also then think that Team Leaders are then also moderated by a Lead Examiner (I think this is a sample of centres selected at random, but I'm not a team leader so I don't know for sure) If you assume that each examiner has an average allocation of 5 centres and some only have 3 (in fact in my team this year the most was 6 and almost all only had 3 centres then there is a fair likelihood this year that your centre could have been looked at on DVD. In my case, having examined before, two of my three centres were seen by my team leader.
    Telling Edexcel about what the examiner said won't affect the re-mark at all - I think you said in a previous post that the kids she/he said this about then got Ds which is strange, but then again if Edexcel wanted to be pedantic they could say that what she/he said did not identify a "band" - remember that band 3 is considered "good" in their eyes.
    Good luck - I don't know many who have had successful re-marks but this year may well be different!
     
  11. Thanks for all the info guvnor. I suppose the students who were given D E and F (A remained unchanged in unit 1) and unit 2 brought marks down by 6 which looking at the comments on these threads isn't too dreadful so two of the lads got high C in the end but they really wanted minimum B. Now if I were a team leader or lead examiner I'd feel pretty embarrassed at ordering a reduction to these grades when later on the marks for the other units would become available placing the lads between A and B, not to mention that the cohort were very strong this year. It feels like a vendetta and I know that sounds paranoid but the visiting examiner was genuinely impressed and I said in an earlier thread that I didn't wish to mention any more comments because she was so nice but lets put it this way there was a direct comparison between the material our students were doing and other centres. Again you are right. Edexcel could say that it was just praising the material but you know this whole business is just the pits at the moment and I now don't feel like appealing if the dvd has already been looked at. After all, probably the same people will look at it again.
     
  12. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Hi again Newaction,
    I'm not trying to put you off appealing. If you really feel the marks were unjust, I think you should do :)
    Good luck
     
  13. Hi-
    I am SO relieved to read all the messages here! I have been feeling sick since receiving our GCSE drama results yesterday! We have exceeded the National Average every year in our school and last year got nearly 100% A*-C.
    Not only do our unit 3 results make no sense at all- a boy who sustained an excellent imaginative character throughout has gained a G grade and a girl who was on stage for two minutes a B- but our Unit 1 marks are beyond words!
    It seems everyone has been lowered by a grade in unit 2 and for unit 1 the moderator has taken upto 25 marks off of some students! The highest grade we received for that unit was a C! One student who gained a A* for unit 2 has been given an E for unit 1! An E!!!! I didn't even mark her as outstanding but as 'Excellent' and the moderator has lowered her to adequate- if her essay was adequate then what does an excellent essay look like???
    The fact that all students received A, Bs and Cs for unit 2 and Es, Fs and Gs for unit 1 just shows how inaccurate and ridiculous the moderatoring process is and that we are completely at the mercy of whoever we send our work to.
    There is no way my marking is that incorrect or that there can be that sort of difference between units! It's not like the units are THAT different!!! I would urge all the drama teachers on here with issues to contact Edexcel for re-marking/moderation.
    There is no way every drama teacher on here can be wrong- the issue is clearly with the moderators/examiners and their subjectivity.
    I am also SO annoyed that there were no support materials on the website for the new spec until Xmas- I went on the training, which was useless and did my best, but edexcel should have offered more support. The marking criteria could mean anything.
    Also- how on earth can we mark without grade boundaries- last year a student needed 97% to get an A*- this year it's 71%! I know it's a new spec- but we all mark with an overall grade in our heads and use previous marks as a guide- how were we to know they were going to go this low! How can we guide students and say "This is a C" if we don't know what a C is!
    I am now VERY angry and am considering making a complaint- the more of us that do the more they will take notice.
    Good Luck with all the re-marking/moderation.
     
  14. I am having so many doubts over edexcel. Despite getting good marks this year I worry that, in my first year as HoD next year the marks will go down despite us doing all the right things. I just feel that the JCQ should get involved if it's this bad and someone needs to be accountable. I don't believe everyone can be so wrong. It's just impossible.
     
  15. On the course I attended the standard response was 'we won't be sure of that til after the first cohort has gone through'. I really feel that if there are genuine issues with the delivery of this course then Edexcel should take responsibility for the lack of guidance given to centres. I've been lucky this year - we weren't adjusted on unit 1 or 2 and got a pupil through unit 2 with full marks - but I am concerned though as there's no guarantee we'll have the same success next year as I know that things can vary from year to year.
     
  16. This is my biggest issue. For me this year it's been AS not GCSE but the problem is the same. If we can't rely on a consistent standard we have no way to guide or prepare our pupils to their target grades.
     
  17. Thank you for this post! I feel exactly the same, and I am an experienced Drama HOD having taught Edexcel GCSE and A level for many years! I went to the Edexcel launch INSET of the new spec and wrote down carefully all that we were told about differences between the old and new spec, which I still refer to. It was made very clear that the changes were minimal and were mostly to do with the renaiming of Units (rather than papers), the reduction in word count for written work on centres' chosen plays and the larger (and separate) emphasis on Evaluation of live theatre. Also, we would now be guided by Edexcel on our stimulus for Unit 3. All very clear and simple. And now it seems that Unit 2 has actually changed drastically (we too were marked down dramatically in Unit 2, meaning that none of my students achieved above a C grade overall!) when I do not believe that this is clear in the spec, nor has it been made clear to us by Edexcel in any other way. If it is my fault then I have made a genuine mistake (along with many other Drama teachers it seems - surely this tells us something) and I do not believe that the students should be punished for this, especially as this could surely be put down to teething problems with the new spec. I really do not know how to tackle or move forward with this...
     
  18. My personal experiences are probably closest to crunchynut's and I absolutely agree with the several posters who say that they want to be able to say with confidence 'That is a C' or 'That is an A*.' I teach English as well and am rarely surprised by results there. I always feel a bit sick before results days, because I really don't know what oddity Drama is going tothrow up (this year it was absolutely baffling Unit 2 AS results.) Like a lot of posters I have been teaching for years and also I teach other subjects, so I do know how particularly difficult this process is for Drama. I checked around a number of other forums and do not see nearly the same despair about results there. There seems to be a vagueness and subjectivity in the Drama marking which leads to problems, but I'm not sure what the solution is. Although overall we did fine, (weirdly our A*-C at GCSE Drama was by far our best ever, despite being slightly marked down in both coursework units) the uncertainty and feeling of lack of control makes me wonder if I can carry on with it much longer.

     
  19. Apparently percentages this year are only a few percent down (but down and in the A* to C bracket!) in comparison to last year regarding passes and grades. Whether it is a big enough margin to suggest not enough guidance was given I don't know but one thing is certain...as it was a new spec we would have all worked so hard to get it right and if we had been following a clear spec then this could have meant possibly higher grades this year and something we all wanted and therefore feel really disappointed about. It's obvious that if we'd all got those higher grades the percentage might have swung too far the other way! In my opinion, the big question is how do we complain or appeal when Edexcel can say results are not too different to normal!
     
  20. Foxeng that's how I feel. I dread results days because I just feel that I never know what to expect. This year I wa lucky with GCSE and not so lucky with AS, next year it could be vice versa. I really don't think that, with the practical exams, you can ever feel your 'cracked it' as a teacher as there are just too many variables. I do, quite seriously, feel that I don't think I can keep teaching this subject forever as it's just way too demoralising.
     

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