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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. Exactly, crunchynut. I feel confident with my English students that I can say, 'You need to do ....or ....in order to improve your grade.' In Drama, there were AS performance marks that I cannot explain at all or give clear guidance on what more they could have reasonably have done. They are certainly not in line with last year's results which matched my estimate very closely. Of course, the Unit 2 marks can feel like a personal slap in the face in that as a teacher you have chosen, edited and directed the script.
    However in the mark schemes for English there is clearer guidance - is the argument clear and well supported? Is the writing accurate and sophisticated? Do they refer to critical perspectives? Do they have a personal viewpoint? Do they use literary terminology? Do they embed comments about the social, historical context?
    In Drama (I'm just sitting down to do some GCSE Unit 2 marking which I was waiting to complete once I'd received the moderator report) the guidance is so limited - basically the same wording but substituting the words 'outstanding' with 'excellent' or 'good' to differentiate each band. The guidance from the moderator on the outstanding band is simply that it should be used 'infrequently' for only 'a few' students. But I can't mark based on how many other people are giving the mark, only what I see in my pupils' work.
    If I feel this disheartened when my overall results were good, I can imagine how awful it is for teachers with hugely disappointed pupils/parents.

  2. This is the issue. They look at you for guidance and you don't know what to say. They know that so-and-so got an A last year and compare themselves and their classmates and can't understand it either. And I can't explain that to them as I'm just as perplexed!

    I think you've absolutely hit the nail on the head here. The mark schemes leave themselves so open to interpretation. 'Good', 'excellent', etc. are subjective. The difference between 'good use of stillness' and 'excellent use of stillness' has got to be down to your own judgement. There needs to be much clearer and much more tangiable criteria for each band so that there's less room for opinion. The English ones give you absolute things to look for. This is what we need.
  3. As a new HoD in a couple of weeks, I feel so stuck between a rock and a hard place about this one. I would look at changing boards but all the other boards do written exams and that just wouldn't suit our kids. Plus I have NO time to plan it for Year 10 now! Eeeeek - I am just writing a Unit 2 practice scheme for Yr 10 and I NOW have NO idea if I am doing it right. Our practical marks were marked down by 7. BIZARRE!
  4. Our results seem to echo so much that has been raised on this forum. It is unjust that agiain the goal posts have been moved and that the support from edecel was either very vague or had to be paid for. Why were all teachers not given a chance to do standardisation as a whole.
    This movement of goal posts by edexcel was seen when the AS spec changed and I remember the unjust way unit 2 was marked nationally.
    We are constantly as teachers questioning our delivery and beating ourselves up on how to develop the pupils and I did this after looking at the results and comments. My fear is that is I go for re-moderation that the marks will drop further[​IMG]. Especially as my work was sent to the exam board as 2 moderators had dropped out.
    Good luck to all as we begin to address the problems that so many are going through.

  5. Walshj77 - OCR don't have a written exam so it's worth looking at their spec' again. I changed from Edexcel to OCR a few years ago for all the reasons others have cited in this post and haven't had a problem with any of their marking so far. I appreciate it would be a massive job re-planning but it'd be worth it in the long run I'm sure.
  6. Dear all,
    I wrote the following letter to Ask The Expert today. I very much support this mood of opinion. Its so not about me and getting my results right! Its about doing fairly by the students. I encourage others to contact EdExcel if they feel so motivated.

    Best of luck for the next year and with your mark challenges!!!!

    I want to contact you regarding the marking
    of both Alevel and GCSE this year.

    I appreciate in the aftermath of results
    day there are always students, teachers and centres who are happy and those who
    are disappointed. Conscientious
    teachers work very hard for their students to achieve to the best of their

    My results this year at GCSE and Alevel
    were reasonably good with a couple of slight surprises which I may end up
    challenging. What I wanted to try and
    tap into though was a bigger picture about the new GCSE and Alevel
    qualifications and the moderating of coursework and the marking of performance

    This is the first year that my coursework
    has been moderated with the marks having been changed and both Alevel and GCSE
    have come down in certain modules.
    I haven't got the moderator's reports yet so have not studied them in
    detail to establish the reasons for this.
    However when I standardised them against another nearby centre I found I
    had marked them more harshly than they did initially so I will be interested to
    know if the other school also got moderated down. I truly believe I marked the students practical and
    coursework as honestly as I could so feel quite confused that my judgement is
    not accepted but will wait to see what the reports say before pursuing

    More confusing though and what I wanted to
    contact you about is the issue of performance work. The Unit 2 performances at our centre were I am pretty
    confident the best we have ever produced by a cohort which are not actually
    that naturally able. Nonetheless I
    have no doubt their performances were the best I have produced yet the marks
    weren't the best I have produced.
    I feel pretty confident that if I had had Alan Perks who marked me last
    year they would have been somewhat
    more generously or at least discriminatingly marked (I don't mean drastically
    but somewhat - and certainly for some of the candidates). As I say they were not disastrous
    results but several of them were in the 48-53 out of 80 bracket.

    What really concerns me though is how the
    examiner seemed pretty unable to differentiate between a number of candidates
    performances. 3 candidates all
    received 4 x 6 for their play performance. I simply don't believe this! And all eight of them bar one got almost all 6 and 7s for
    everything for their Unit 2 exam!!!!!

    I know the students very well and know the
    strengths and weaknesses of them and there are clear levels of ability within
    those 8. With 2 being stronger,
    then another two not far behind, then two very close again and finally 2 a bit
    weaker again. Yet all 6 (bar the
    first two, were scored within about 4 or 5 marks of each other).

    What's the difference between 5, 6, 7 and 8
    to your examiners? Do all your
    examiner have a clear nationally applied understanding of these grades? Clearly there is a certain amount of
    subjectivity but it needs to be very carefully applied.

    For example if you multiply 7 x 8 and 8 x 8
    that is at least a whole grade difference for the unit potentially yet both are
    in the excellent category and very open to subjective opinion.

    In one particular duologue from Two one
    girl (who was better than the other but not seismically scored 9, 8, 8 and 7
    while the other got 5, 6, 6, and 7.
    There is NO WAY she was 8 marks overall better than the other girl. I am telling you CATEGORICALLY! I saw the performance many many times.
    That is just confused and idle marking to my mind! What is so frustrating is
    that it is not possible to get the justification for these marks.

    Another girl was similarly lumped in with
    the melee of 4 x 6 brigade except she got one or two 7s. She was clearly well into the excellent
    category yet did not get many 8s.
    None of them got a 10 - yet I feel one girl deserved at least one or 2

    Examiners marks for performance can seem
    extremely random and/or we cannot
    really understand what their marks mean.
    Good and Excellent and Outstanding need to be clearly understood and
    consistently applied by examiners ACROSS THE COUNTRY!!!!!. Much more training and cross
    standardisation is necessary here.

    An interesting contrasting example is from
    my GCSE group. One group had all four candidates in their Unit 3 performance
    getting FULL MARKS! Now I can tell
    you quite categorically that while some may have deserved this at least one was
    less good than the other 3 and did not in my view deserve 120/120. Another positive in this case example
    of idle marking to my mind. We
    tell the students they are marked individually yet he wasn't and nor were my
    Alevel girls!

    While another girl at GCSE who was easily
    the strongest girl in her group, but who did a less perhaps 'clever' piece
    scored 108/120. She could act the
    socks off this so called 120/120 candidate and moreover her performance was
    clearly much more technically capable but the rest of her group were down in
    the 90s and 80s.

    These examples of general marking in the
    case of AS - 6s being given so
    consistently across all four bands.
    (Incidentally I have rarely seen an examiner be bold enough to give a
    significantly high score for one element and a lower one for another) and GCSE
    (all candidates being given the same mark) suggests a number of flaws in the
    training of examiners.

    You will notice on the TES website many
    comments from teachers about feeling confused and stabbing in the dark.

    Students only get one go at their
    GCSE/Alevel as one disgruntled parent told me a couple of years ago.

    Sadly I have lost my Alevel drama next year
    due to poor numbers and a drop in funding. I am in a school which gets outstanding results and I get
    generally very good results in difficult circumstances.

    To try and build a subject like drama in a
    school like this means I need to convince parents and students that not only is
    drama a valid subject but one in which they can achieve well. I am a good and hardworking teacher and
    sometimes feel as in this case quite frustrated when examiners who have such
    power over children's lives can be somewhat careless and perhaps even
    indiscriminate with their marking.

    Finally I would like to say that am
    generally speaking a great fan of both the GCSE and Alevel qualifications at
    EdExcel and love their structure and freedom. I do not want to stop teaching this
    qualification but like many other teachers want to fight to make it more fairly

    examiners arrive at the marks they are given. Then when it comes to results day their should be general
    agreement from teachers and examiners about the results their students are

    Finally I don't want to do this because I
    want always to get fantastic results for my own ego. This is first and last about students getting what is
    fair. You will never get total
    agreement on the value of performances but a much closer guide is needed.

    Finally you should post on the teacher
    website performances at Unit 2 Alevel and Unit 3 GCSE across all 5 bands with
    marks explicitly given and an explanation for it. All examiners awarding marks should be fully conscious of
    these gradings and where results are challenged and second examiners agree
    grades are wrong they should always be changed.

    Thank you for your time.

  7. I so agree with this, and I am so pleased to have found that everyone feels the same as me! I have been teaching Edexcel GCSE for 11 years, gone through the three syllabus changes and I have NEVER had my marks questioned, in fact I have been congratulated on the efficiency of my marking!!! I am gutted for my students who should have got A's, both Units 1 and 2 were marked down because I had apparently been too lenient, yet I maked to the criteria, or so I thought. I really have some thinking to do about how I am going to approach these units this year......
  8. Great letter. I think the issue at Unit 2 of the fact that 8 marks is a grade is massively important! Potentially you could have an examiner assess student X as 'good' and give them 5s across the booard, while another examiner could agree that student X is 'good' but be just slightly more generous and give them 6s. They would be broadly in agreement but the different to student X would be the difference between a C and a D. I think this is one of the issues with the new AS spec.
  9. Hi
    I'm speaking here as an AS Unit 2 examiner from this year.....it was my first year and I saw loads of brilliant stuff.
    The way its marked is as follows:
    1. examiner goes in and marks the work as they see it
    2. examiner sends work away to team leader (if that specific centre has been asked for). Team leader marks it (and my team leader added on a few marks or took some off mine this year!).
    3. ALL work gets sent away and (from what I can gather) is re-marked / checked again by one of the "bosses" and it is THEIR mark which goes in the system as the final mark.
    I phoned through all my marks to the exam board by 13 June and was fully aware that these marks may be altered by the time results day arrived.
    I'm a GCSE and A Level Edexcel Drama teacher myself (and I am on my own too!) and I've had issues with their marking of performances in the first year of A Level new spec and coursework in the new spec of GCSE. It's annoying, yes. But only by applying to BE an examiner did I realise and understand the process and find that my marks COULD change. Maybe, your examiner's marks were changed by the powers that be.....I will never know, I am not informed as to if any of my marks are altered (except from the first one which my team leader sent back to me).
    I would like to think I'm quite a fair marker - harsh but fair - I know I put comments on some along the lines of "downward inflection in places vocally" which would make a difference between one banding and another.
    No idea if that helps or makes people even more angry - good luck to all who are appealing! I hope you get some success from it.
  10. Thanks for that, Nicky. I do appreciate what you're saying. The issue is that even if I become an examiner it doesn't change who comes to me. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my examiners over the last three years have not marked to the same standard. I do understand that it gets checked, etc., but mistakes must get through. The year we had 3 examiners they seemed far more generous!
    I will seek guidance again this year and will implement all suggestions given again. Our GCSE results this year were extremely high and that's the cohort who will make up our Unit 2 next year so there will be very high pressure. But I am angry. (Not with you, Nicky!!!)
    I will think about examining again this year. I think it's just the time commitment that concerns me, especially with the marking of the WPCs. How many centres do you do?
  11. I did four centres this year but you could be given up to six. The most I had at one centre was about 33 but there are some centres which have 50+ so, I guess I was lucky this year. If school lets me do it again next year, then I will!
    If you CAN do the examining, do it....it REALLY does help (although I still don't get top bands for every student but I have more of an insight as to what they are looking for ).
    If you need any advice, crunchynut, next year with WPCs or any other aspect of Unit 2, give me a shout and I'll see what I can do. No promises mind you - this doesn't mean that you'll all get top band marks or anything!!!!
  12. Thanks Nicky!
    4 doesn't seem too bad. I thought it was more. I might try and squeeze it in!
  13. Examiner Report for Unit 3 GCSE is now on the Edexcel website! Makes good reading...
  14. I have been so upset by my results this year that I am leaving Edexcel and possibly heading for OCR - does anyone have any previous experience? (I had good results in Unit 3 but marks in Units 1 and 2 were all brought down - in some cases by 20 marks, completely out of line with the marking in previous years.)
  15. NikiQatar

    NikiQatar New commenter

    Well, my moderator report says that my unit 2 RoW was "unchallenging". Interesting seeing as I used some ideas from the Blood Brothers editable SoW from the website...

    Also, the unit 3 examiner didn't mark one of my students unit 3 performance. I am an international teacher, so had to send off suggestion marks and other various bits of lovely EDEXCEL paperwork along with the DVD.

    No-one bothered to contact me from EDEXCEL to say why he has not been marked...I have to chase that up myself. My B/C student is now an F...
  16. thingwall

    thingwall New commenter

    I switched to OCR from Edx and am very happy. I don't know what went wrong with Edx. I tried raising the GCSE downward moderation a couple of years ago at a meeting for the new GCSE when sows I'd done with praise from moderators suddenly became toxic and marked down but I never got a satisfactory answer from the senior Edx people. I had become a bit blase with the paperwork after about 6 very succesful years and did tighten it up the next year but was still marked down. I got marked up this year.
  17. horsemarket

    horsemarket New commenter

    Can Edexcel really afford to lose 57 centres (58 now)? What percentage of their client base does this represent? Does anyone know how many centres they have for GCSE? It strikes me that we have more power as consumers than as teachers, sadly. What say we get a petition together with specific demands?
    1-Remoderate all Unit 1 marks for every centre
    2-Remoderate all Unit 2 marks for every centre
    Or if you realise yourselves that you've totally messed up, send revised results to all centres
    3-Remark all Unit 3 marks for centres who demand if free of charge
    4-Audit the language you use with your customers and take steps to mend it where it is found to be superior and / or patronising
    5-Acknowledge what we all ahev to do as teachers - if they didn't understand it, you didn't explain it right
    or else
    Lose our custom which represents a sizeable chunk of your market, and do it during an economic downturn just for good measure
    Anyone else agree? How should we go about this? Or, as someone else suggested, an open letter to, say The Guardian, The Independent, The Times...?

  18. We seem to have been very fortunate at our school and have not had our marks altered for either unit and have attained extremely high grades and a number of students attaingin Band 1, with 1 student achieving full marks. Our unit 3 marks are also very high with 3 students attaining 79/80 and 1 attaining 80/80. I would be more than happy to forward our Paper 2 scheme of work if you would like a copy? Our Paper 1 exam can be found in Teaching Drama magazine a few issues ago, it was a scheme of work I wrote based on Mental Illness.
  19. This is what worries me a bit. We haven't been moved this year and no issues with the work etc apart from one recommendation which is easy to implement. But I don't feel secure that it won't be moved next year as I have heard of this thing happening a lot.

  20. Hi;

    could you clarify by what you mean exactly by the above? HARSH but fair? in what way harsh when you've seen "loads of brilliant stuff" ? is this what you've been instructed? what happened to the -seemingly forgotten - notion of rewarding students , being there to give marks, not take them away etc etc? ........... sorry, but your wording confuses me.........Cheers

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