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GCSE controlled assessment

Discussion in 'Science' started by ScienceGuy, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    My centre is currently doing AQA and we are struggling with the controlled assessment requirements (organisation and marking using completely useless criteria). Whilst not completely clear, it seems that, with the move to terminal assessment and that the ISAs only have a one year life span, in a couple of years time we will have to do the controlled assessment for core and additional science in Yr 11 which would not be fun for any teacher or pupil involved with the course.
    At the moment I am trying to gauge colleagues views on the controlled assessment requirements of other exam boards to see if they are any better both educational and organisationally. What are they like and are you happy with them?
     
  2. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    My centre is currently doing AQA and we are struggling with the controlled assessment requirements (organisation and marking using completely useless criteria). Whilst not completely clear, it seems that, with the move to terminal assessment and that the ISAs only have a one year life span, in a couple of years time we will have to do the controlled assessment for core and additional science in Yr 11 which would not be fun for any teacher or pupil involved with the course.
    At the moment I am trying to gauge colleagues views on the controlled assessment requirements of other exam boards to see if they are any better both educational and organisationally. What are they like and are you happy with them?
     
  3. We have just had our first go at some 21C Science controlled assessment. Educationally the assessment tasks and criteria seem reasonably valid. However it is really hard for students and a monster to organise. We are also very insecure about the interpretation of standards and exactly how much students have to be able to produce for decent grades.
     
  4. Dear ScienceGuy,
    We have had a very positive response from teachers to the new controlled assessments which have been designed to match the new criteria from the regulator, Ofqual. If you are having difficulties with the controlled assessment your local controlled assessment science adviser can assist. Please also note that all centres must attend a standardisation meeting at which you will receive specialist guidance from our experts. Furthermore, we do provide comprehensive support and guidance for the GCSE Sciences controlled assessments and you can view our resources and information on the AQA Science Lab (http://www.sciencelab.org.uk/support/controlled-assessment.php ). You can also contact your AQA Science Adviser or CA Adviser. If you don’t have the contact details for your Adviser please e-mail science-gcse@aqa.org.uk with your centre number and we will e-mail the information to you. In addition please note that controlled assessments have particular moderation dates but the time that students actually do them is flexible. It is worth remembering that in the summer of 2014 when all of the Science GCSEs will be terminally assessed you will still be allowed to enter students early – for example, at the end of Year 10 if you so wish. Kindest Regards AQA Science
     
  5. What is getting me down is the purchasing of specific resources to do these isas. Some things are only available from one source or are prohibitavely expensive when bought in large number (every pupil needs the full resources, whereas for old coursework could work in pairs). Also, because the boards (not specifically AQA) won't let general suppliers know what resources will be needed, they run out of stock! Nightmare!!!
     
  6. Can you tell me how you investigated the bacteria growth-we were thinking of growing e-coli on agar medium and adding anti-batcerial to the agar.
    What did you change the concentration of?
    Did you stick to the chemicals given in the info or use something simpler??

     
  7. I have just sat down to plan this investigation and don't know how to go about ithelp!!
     
  8. Did your students do the unit one exam?what did they think of it?
    We found the biology and chemistry alright however the physics was a little sticky!!
    With regard to the CA we are going to use dettol and micrococcus luteus
     
  9. tjholland1

    tjholland1 New commenter

    I would love to get in touch with people who have praised the new ISA set up considering the amount of marking/ printing and paperwork needed to be completed has doubled.
     
  10. I cannot see the new arrangements being sustainable in the long term. New tasks annually? How long before they run out of ideas.
    Also, where does the marking time come from? Is this in line with the work life balance agreement and in terms of NAS members, their work to rule.
     
  11. I can't see it lasting-especially when we need to get new equipment each year-is costly enough for this year.
    I was thinking of adding different salt concentrations to the agar as a simple thing to change that should stop growth-assuming the agar can still set with that much salt.
    I will have a play first and hope it works!

     
  12. everyone i know says that they hate the new AQA ISAs, what a pity because they seemed to be the most straight forward of the 2006 specifications!
     
  13. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    Whilst I don't doubt that you have had lots of responses about the coursework I am surprised that you have had positive ones. The organisational difficulties are only part of the problem - marking the work is already causing arguments at my centre and we are finding moderation very difficult. I would hate to be in charge of ensuring equal marking across the country!
    That said, it is good that you have replied directly, especially with the news that we can still do early entries!
     
  14. I have been marking our first sets of the CAU and finding it a nightmare. The mark schemes are extremely wishy washy and not very helpful. They often talk about detailed and simple answers but give little to no examples of what these may consist of. Sometimes they have the phrase or for 1 mark but then no mention of or or and in the 2 and 3 mark questions.
    The most frustrating thing for me is the spelling/grammar rules seem totally unfair on students with dyslexia- only being able to get 3 marks (out of 9) in their plan because their spelling is atrocious even though their science is fine seems to be a massive case of discrimination.
     
  15. alm721

    alm721 New commenter

    I cannot believe you have had a very positive response to these assessments. Everyone I speak to thinks they are dreadful.
     
  16. enjolras

    enjolras New commenter

    I have been teaching Chemistry for nearly thirty years and I am amazed that AQA have received any favourable comments on their new Controlled Assessment scheme.
    It looks to be difficult to assess accurately and this suggests that it will be even more difficult to moderate. I expect that there will be huge discrepancies in what teachers award, even if they genuinely try to give a fair mark for their students' work.
    Rather than reinforce and support attempts to teach the students how to carry out good practical work and to carry out interesting scientific investigations, it will, I fear, minimise the range of skills that are taught and lead to science experiments being constrained so that they teach "How Science Works" in the AQA model.
    I am particularly concerned that the brighter students will find this so boring and frustrating that they will be turned away from Science altogether. In an attempt to prevent this, we are seriously considering a switch to iGCSE (maybe or maybe not with AQA). Such a change ought to be driven by a positive desire to find the best teaching / learning / assessment package for one's students rather than a desperate attempt to leave something at all costs.
    I have a great deal of experience in practical assessment in many forms and have no fear of "new things". However, I am extremely reluctant to train my students to jump through hoops and have my students take part in a system that seems designed to turn them away from Science. One suggestion from a colleague was that we simply play the game, get the students the best marks we can and then get back to proper teaching. My reply was that with such a large proportion of the examination marks based on such flimsy assessment, we need to ensure that we do it properly. It would be awful to have our marks seriously adjusted downwards simply because we have missed out one of the hoops!
    With all the other pronouncements emanating from Mr Gove, is there a chance that we might have a useful one that consigns this to the bin in time to save a generation of scientists?
     
  17. I echo most of the comments above, and want to add in my own personal bugbear. I teach some low ability sets in Year 9 and we are now phasing out BTEC in line with Gove's new performance tables and will enter most students for GCSE. Why aren't the ISAs in two tiers as the exam papers are? It breaks my heart to put (as yet, pratice) ISA papers in front of students who have no hope in understanding many of the questions. Many are keen and eager to do well and we may scrape a C grade out of some, but the ISA papers are daunting for top set students let alone lower ability. It wouldn't be too hard to adapt the papers to make a Foundation tier that students can achieve with. It annoyed me when the specifications changed last time, and it annoys me more now. Rant over.
     

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