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EDEXCEL GCSE Science (2011 spec) November entry module results.

Discussion in 'Science' started by Sar2008, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Our results were better, but there was a clear pattern.
    A lot less U's this time - barely any.
    Our Triple students had 43 A*s from 2 sets and many had full marks. The Core students did better but there was mass underachievement. The exam favoured the bright students but the less able students who worked hard were still not getting the marks. I'll be looking to change for the Additional students back to OCR and leave EDEXCEL well alone. Yes the results were better, but they were still not in line with other exam boards and students were still well off their targets, despite all the extra work done.
  2. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Please forgive a question from a non-science teacher who is trying to work out what to do next having just received our kids results..
    What extra work?
    I can easily believe you've done a heck of a lot in rejigging for a different SoW, finding relevant video clips and so on.
    But what work have the kids done?
    When we were invited by our school to a meeting just before the half term - and there told about the new exams and the new structure, most parents seemed to have the attitude "Why haven't you told us this before?" and also "Why haven't my kids been doing any homework?"
    If this new course actually means the kids having to put some effort in, then as a parent, I think that's a bl**dy good thing!I, but I've seen no evidence of it in my sample of 2 (+ comments from a handful of other parents..)
    We (well, I) did a lot of work with our kids over that half term and in the days after it - and with the child who is actually more accustomed to doing some bl**dy work, well, he was rewarded with excellent results.
    But the other child, who's a bit of a lad and a bit of a coaster, was reluctant to take on board the notion that he really needed to know his stuff as "just skimming it" as he'd clearly been allowed to do in lessons was not going to be enough.
    He results were as deserved!
    But anyway, going back to the "what work?"... Well, what work?
    Is our school (an "outstanding" comprehensive) unusual in not apparently setting homework? (Sticking to the formula of "write on" worksheets that seem to have a lot of text and not a lot of space for writing (rather unlike the exams)?)
    And going back to my point about what next? I'm currently waiting for a call back from the school as I need to understand the resit options (if any!) and to make sure that I am informed when sufficient work is not being done (as we've requested since year 7, BTW - and as we've always said, a quick email is absolutely fine.. No need for a long phone call when 6 honeworks have been missed.. just a one liner every time!)
    What are the options for GCSE general science this year? Is it now that resits are possible but that the resit score counts even if lower? Is the 40% end course assessment requirement in this year or does it only come in next?
  3. This is how I understand it but I'm another non science teacher so I stand corrected if I am wrong.
    There is only one re-sit allowed per subject and the highest score wins.
    If your children are already on the course then they are continuing the old system whatever that may be.
    I totally agree with you, the kids have to work for their exams now and need to know their stuff, whereas the multple choice days were much easier to pass with very little knowlege.
    Our school sends home no homework but I thought it was because it is a struggling academy!!. It's nice to know that other schools have not caught up with the reality of the new courses, that teaching alone will not produce the results.
    The multiple choice system has allowed schools to sit back and rely on pure teaching and the sooner they catch on, that it is now not enough, the better.
    My child was like your 'hard worker', did loads of revision (thank goodness for CGP) and was rewarded with excellent results.
    One advantage of taking edexcel is if your child is bright and can cope with it, they must be being pushed more than if taking OCR or AQA! Which bodes well for further education purposes.
  4. Good points PaulDG - here's my pennyworth as a parent and as a teacher - although neither my children nor my school has not been affected by these issues since our pupils do not sit the EDEXCEL GCSE syllabus.
    On the resits question:
    Go onto the EDEXCEL website & look through all the information. Resit rules will be there (in the specification possibly?). Your school will advise you what they have decided to do. It is likely they have not even decided themselves yet. However, you may find there is a resit option, not offered by the school, which would suit your child (son?) better. If this is the case you can try to get your child registered as an external candidate in another centre. He would keep his own Candidate Number and the papers would be submitted under a different centre number. We had a pupil who did this - it was unorthodox and we had advised the pupil not to resit the papers, but he did and got some very good grades! The parents found somewhere (for a fee I expect) that allowed the pupil to sit the papers we had advised against.
    On the extra work question:
    At the risk of being controversial here...... there are always problems when changing syllabuses. Firstly, teachers are not really sure how the syllabus will be examined (the structure of the questions, the rigour of the markscheme, the balance between qualitative & quantitative content etc.). Examboards publish sample papers but they are not always very useful. Secondly, (and here comes the controversial bit) the grade boundaries for GCSE Science have been very low in the last few years so teachers have been used to seeing certain 'grades' come through for specific 'abilities' of pupils. The combination of new syllabus content, style of paper & grade boundaries may have generated unpredictable grades for pupils who would (under the old regime) have been easy to predict for.
    So - the only way round this is to make sure the pupils REALLY DO KNOW the new syllabus & can demonstrate their knowledge (homework, tests, classwork) using as many different question styles the teacher can muster. To this end, teachers normall create their own questions and tests & may also trawl through relevant past papers from other syllabuses. This represents 'exrta work' for staff - and for pupils when they have to tackle all the questions. As the years pass & past papers become available for the 'new syllabus' teachers can use these to tune pupils' perfomance.
    Maybe the school your children are in was a little more complacent than the ones where 'extra work' was being done?
  5. Hadron, Perhaps I am being controversial too but all science exams have changed to a written paper and the content has changed for AQA, OCR and Edexcel etc. This means all schools are in the same boat with regard to change. (Assuming they have not jumped exam board which would be a double whammy)
    The only schools that are complaining are the ones taking the Edexcel course. This tells me the exams are harder than AQA or OCR. Whether this is good or bad depends on your angle. If a school wants to keep up its league table position then a shift to OCR or AQA may be beneficial. However the November exam may have been just a blip as there have been less complaints about the March exams so far.
    There is absolutely no doubt the new Edexcel science exams are far harder than the previous multiple choice exams. You corrctly say, YOU REALLY DO HAVE TO KNOW YOUR STUFF.
  6. Our school sits OCR 21C. We had some January modules (Y10 took P1P2P3, C1C2C3, B1B2B3) and the results, if anything were better than expected. The real test for our pupils (and our teaching methods) will be next year (June 2013) when the first cohort go through.
    Our content has changed & the % of the paper given over to qualitative explanations has also increased - so we have been inventing questions, tests & giving h/w using more 'Describe / explain ...... making reference to ........' instructions.
    Time will tell if we have the right approach!
    One of my worries is the coursework / investigation element. I am still not really sure what it is meant to demonstrate (pupil skills) and I am not convinced that the scope for external assistance (parents, friends, interweb) and inconsistent interpretation between schools has been addressed properly. Maybe I should read the spec again.

  7. Interesting to hear people talknig about one board being easier / harder than the other. Isn't that why there's a regulator - to make sure that there is no such thing as "the easy board".
    Certainly if you look at GCSE Science results last summer, the boards were all pretty close together. I'd guess that they'll all have to show the same thing this summer when GCSE Science is awarded for the first time.
    Could lead to some fun and games, though, if the boards have applied different standards in the modules so far. May be that we see some very odd coursework grade boundaries to make up for the results from written units. Anyone remember the first year of modular A Level, when almost everyone got a U grade for A2 coursework with OCR, because they'd been too generous when awarding written papers?
  8. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    I'd say that 43 A*'s was very good not to mention the fact that some got full marks. For the AQA Chemistry exam in January you need 58 marks to get 100 UMS marks. Using ERA the % of students getting A*/A on the new spec was about half that of the old spec exams the Year 11 triple students sat. So I'm not quite sure what you mean about in line with other boards.
    To me it feels like they have made this GCSE much harder and final grades look set to be lower on this spec than the old spec. I wonder how other subjects with new GCSEs will fare.
  9. Get yourself on their mailing list and these sorts of things will come through to your mail box.
  10. I agree that the regulator should sort things but I am not sure how this works when marks have already been awarded for a module. If someone gets top marks in all three modules but the majority of othe candidates fail one particular module how do they sort it. (only 5% of the country passed the first edexcel biology apparently). If this paper was so hard and the next paper (from one commentator) 43 got A*s, in one school alone. How does that get sorted fairly?
  11. chris_easby

    chris_easby New commenter

  12. chris_easby

    chris_easby New commenter

    I have just processed my March results and my Biology resits almost all came in with a C grade.
    'So what' I hear you say!
    Well, the group that did the resits didn't (in the main) turn up to revision sessions and were revising for Physics exams at the time, so had their time split compared to NOvember (when they weren't as put off by having naff results already). I had hoped therefore that some of the keen ones would improve but generally I thought I would get back very similar results - most of these students have not been taught Biology since November!
    Now any teacher in my position would know that a string of high grades would be unlikely, yet, this is what I got.
    My issue?
    What about the students I didn't put in for a resit? Have Edexcel made these papers easier at the detriment to any student who sat an exam the first time around and NOT been put in for a resit?
    What about the anxiety and stress caused from the November results?
    At least if Edexcel were consistent, I would be angry, but still have some respect for them. This seems to have been a total turn-around. I have no idea how they are going to sort grade boundaris out in August!
  13. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    The grade boundaries seem very similar. How did the standard of the papers compare in your professional opinion. Did the March exams seem easier?
  14. And... was a C grade an improvement on their previous grade?

  15. steve_cooke

    steve_cooke New commenter

    It strikes me from reading this, posts elsewhere, and from our own AQA results, that AQA have been hard on the top end and easy at the bottom, especially on the higher papers, edexcel have been exactly the opposite and OCR are about right. Does that seem fair?
  16. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    I would agree that getting the top grades on AQA is much harder than on the old spec. We saw very few A*'s and no full UMS marks. We had plenty of year 11 students with full UMS marks on the old spec unit 2 exams.
  17. chris_easby

    chris_easby New commenter

    The results from the exams my class did in November were mainly E grades, a few D grades and a couple of U's!
    The paper certainly seemed more straightroward and with less 'trick' questions than the November exam - but surely Edexcel use some kind of standard deviation in the event of a tricky paper?
    I honestly can't beleive (as much as I would like to) that the improvements are simply down to harder work and mine and my students part!!
  18. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    But in November, you'd have been teaching a new specification with a new assessment regime and had even fewer past papers to work with. Oh, and they're year 10s who, if they're generally like my eldest, don't take exams seriously until they've had their first results back and get a bit of a shock.
  19. The November Biology was a combination of a very tough paper with students who were perhaps fairly green as to the amount of revision they needed to do. I also think that doing a November paper was quite early considering the student must have started the course in year 9 when you are lucky if they have actually realised that it is GCSE work they are learning. They are more likely to be in mixed ability classes in year 9 too which can greatly affect the amount of work absorbed.
    This would not be as much a problem with the old 20 minute multple choice exam, where a cursory smattering of knowlege would be enough for many students to pass the exam. An hour long written paper can hardly be compared to the old system.The new system seems to be designed for rocket scientists and those who revise. Anyone not putting extra effort in, is at risk of failing.
    The March Physics was a much better paper which was a relief after seeing the sample paper.
  20. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Which, after all, is exactly what the government said they wanted!

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