1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

GCSE fallout ... anyone else dreading business as usual in Sept?

Discussion in 'English' started by dickon, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Is anyone else feeling they have lost their way?
    As English teachers we are responsible (as unpaid examiners) for 60% of the GCSE ...
    Assessing against bands that we cannot accurately or with confidence correlate to grades ...
    Being required to track/report half-termly current working grades (no one seems interested in the concept of notional) to SLT, parents and pupils, which we are then held to. when we have no idea where the grade boundaries lie (especially as the board reserves the right to move them at any time without explanation) ...
    Asked by the board to give estimated grades for each unit which we do in good faith but without any assurance that we are right because no one will tell us where the grade boundaries are/will be...
    Trawling through eaqa individual performance data to analyse what went wrong and what might merit a re- mark ...
    Angsting (sic) whether candidates were entered for the right tier ... whether a candidate's CA mark should have been adjusted down at moderation ( some were put up/down/unchanged by us - as a centre as we spent hours and hours moderating throughout the two years - yet not one mark was changed by the external moderator ... were we really so accurate? Would we have been equally accurate if we'd just sent them in with a cursory glance ..?)
    I feel I have manned the GCSE barricades for long enough. I championed 100% coursework, and had more confidence in my judgement (with 100% responsibility) than than I do now!
    Currently receiving e-mails from anxious/angry parents ... who want to hold us to our word because we said on so many occasions (reports/parents' eves/practice papers) that their daughter was a C grade ( not a strong one, but when unable to report a C/D option opted for C (thus satisfying candidate target grades/whole school E+M target) parental aspirations/expectations ...
    Because, after all, as assessors of 60% of the exam the school. parents. pupils expect us as the professional to know ( and as HOD the last word that's heard is mine) ...
    Not really sure where I am going with this except to say I feel this huge sense of injustice and impotence and a loss of faith. After 30 years I have lost my faith and self-belief.
    Business as usual in Sept?
     
  2. Is anyone else feeling they have lost their way?
    As English teachers we are responsible (as unpaid examiners) for 60% of the GCSE ...
    Assessing against bands that we cannot accurately or with confidence correlate to grades ...
    Being required to track/report half-termly current working grades (no one seems interested in the concept of notional) to SLT, parents and pupils, which we are then held to. when we have no idea where the grade boundaries lie (especially as the board reserves the right to move them at any time without explanation) ...
    Asked by the board to give estimated grades for each unit which we do in good faith but without any assurance that we are right because no one will tell us where the grade boundaries are/will be...
    Trawling through eaqa individual performance data to analyse what went wrong and what might merit a re- mark ...
    Angsting (sic) whether candidates were entered for the right tier ... whether a candidate's CA mark should have been adjusted down at moderation ( some were put up/down/unchanged by us - as a centre as we spent hours and hours moderating throughout the two years - yet not one mark was changed by the external moderator ... were we really so accurate? Would we have been equally accurate if we'd just sent them in with a cursory glance ..?)
    I feel I have manned the GCSE barricades for long enough. I championed 100% coursework, and had more confidence in my judgement (with 100% responsibility) than than I do now!
    Currently receiving e-mails from anxious/angry parents ... who want to hold us to our word because we said on so many occasions (reports/parents' eves/practice papers) that their daughter was a C grade ( not a strong one, but when unable to report a C/D option opted for C (thus satisfying candidate target grades/whole school E+M target) parental aspirations/expectations ...
    Because, after all, as assessors of 60% of the exam the school. parents. pupils expect us as the professional to know ( and as HOD the last word that's heard is mine) ...
    Not really sure where I am going with this except to say I feel this huge sense of injustice and impotence and a loss of faith. After 30 years I have lost my faith and self-belief.
    Business as usual in Sept?
     
  3. I think you just summed up exactly how I feel! We have been to hell and back over the last 2 years! Our exam board has caused us no end of problems contradicting themselves, blaming us for any problems and refusing to acknowledge anything that was not EXACTLY what they had in the mark scheme no matter how thoughtful, creative or justified the answers are. We have even been through appeals, had papers back, had remarks etc. etc. Our HoD has been run ragged! I'm amazed she hasn't had a break down over this last year!


    We felt a little more comfortable when a local HoD who was also a marker came in to do some training with us. She helped us with grade boundary estimates etc. which was a massive help...that is until they report last week that the boundaries were changed last minute! I just feel like I wasted my time filling out all these forms etc. when all along they were just going to be changed!


    As it is we were very lucky that all our hard work paid off and we still exceeded out A*-C target but our A*-B grades were significantly down. I work in a very high pressure school and I just know the pressure will be on when we go back despite exceeding target and all the press showing this is a country wide issue.


    More than anything I feel awful for the students! I taught a C/D borderline class this year (although only 20% were targeted a C) who worked their socks off this year. I got the 20% through with a C but 5 others just missed out by a mark or 2 - if the boundaries were moved this means these students have lost their C because of this! Our students have attended Easter school (85% turn out!), after school revision, additional one to ones and small group lessons during study leave and breakfast revision the morning of exams. They have worked so hard and this change is like the boards are saying good but just not good enough!


    We have changed boards now and had yr10 sit modules in lit and lang in the summer. I am yet to see the results from these but I am not getting my hopes up! However with a set 1 with 70% predicted A*-A I am feeling the pressure a little more!


    As you say business as usual next week
     
  4. You have hit the nail on the head! We have felt like this for some time in my department as we've had marking fiasco in Jan with AQA lit paper - which, by the way, no one seems to be mentioning, miraculously got easier this series. Just as the government have been claiming Lit has been dumbed down, what a coincidence!

    Anyway, I totally echo your concerns and for us 'business as usual' will only commence after we've told AQA we're never giving them any money ever again, and we completely rewrite the curriculum to go with another board. They're all puppets to be fair but once again AQA is looking like the worst of a bad bunch!
     
  5. I am dreading it also. The Lit grades weren't bad and the Media grades were better than expected yet still all I can think is what could/should I have done better/differently?

    We are stuck with AQA for current year 11s but not necessarily for Year 10 so that's a conversation I am going to be having in the next few days.
     
  6. fishtail

    fishtail New commenter

    ..and others are changing the other way; it's a no-win situation.

    Do you think it would work if instead of predicted grades next year for SLT et al we offered predicted mark ranges, or predicted bands? :)
     
  7. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    Why are they angry with you? Haven't they read the newspapers and seen where their anger should really be directed? We have acted in good faith, and had the rug pulled from under our feet by a self-serving, dishonest secretary of state who is determined to push through his own ideas without consultation or consensus.
    In a way, the whole thing has made us less accountable. We can't be held accountable if grade boundaries are shifted mid-series. And SLT will no longer have the "right" to expect grades to rise year on year, thus lifting a burden from us...well, in theory anyway...
     
  8. I shall certainly press for word' notional to be attached to all reported grades within school. I tried this argument when bands were first introduced but school didn't see the point I was making. Think there's more point to the argument now! I'd also like genuine borderline candidates to be reported as C/D until such time as they become secure C grades.
    What gets me is the way the board asked for estimated grades for every unit - why? How were we meant to know - especially if marks/UMS from previous exam sessions could not be relied upon as a guideline? Our responses were also guided by past experience and what would have been awarded a low C under the old spec. So if our internal barometers are wrong does this mean standards are not consistent with previous years?
    Now I have to confess to disappointed students that I gave them CA marks which I thought were going to give them a C ("Ok not a strong C, but you're in the zone") because I thought their work was comparable with a C from previous years and because I had been led to believe that a C grade was ...
    "Sorry about the 60% of your GCSE I got wrong! And sorry that I asked you to do additional tasks to try to pick up those few precious extra marks you needed to get into the zone as they didn't count in the end. Sorry you came to all those after school/holiday/Saturday booster sessions to ensure your low C would be a secure one. Also sorry I succumbed to pressure from above and pulled you out of Lang/ Lit so that you could concentrate on getting a C grade in the all important English because you needed a C in English for your college place and a C in English and Maths for the school league table and I'd been asked to get one out of you if at all possible. So I'm also sorry for deciding that FT would be better for you; thought it might be easier for you to pick up those much needed C grade marks ...Or sorry I put you in for HT because you won't be able to contest the change to C grade boundary but you're still 4 marks away from a C because of the changes to CA grade boundaries - you've been hit on units 2 and 3 because you were an insecure grade C... I'm sorry for everything, but especially the fact that to be a D/C candidate means success will always be in the gift of the exam board not your own hard work fuelled by your aspiration! One mark separates a D from a C - always has, always will. Good luck next time"
    Or am I taking this too much to heart?
    In the past we were always able to console ourselves that it was the unknown 60% that would decide their fate; we'd done our best to give them every chance to prove themselves in the level playing field of the exam and if they missed the C it was the exam that let them down/ they didn't make it in the exam, but they had not been misled by their coursework marks. Now I feel they were misled from the outset and the borderliners were never in with a chance.
    I don't want to be responsible for 60% of their grade under the current assessment arrangements. I never felt this way about 100% coursework. Bring back exams only and I'll take back my weekends and holidays and sleep well at night!
     
  9. Mrs Goatstrangler

    Mrs Goatstrangler New commenter

    Which is why I'm not doing it any more and have changed to Edexcel Cert for which I only have to assess the 3 Sp & L tasks.
     
  10. Dickon, all boards needed predicted grades for all units this year as it is the first year of a new specification and they need the data so that they can set the grade boundaries. (That's what WJEC told us in one of their newsletters.)
     
  11. When will someone actually answer the question/problem here? GSCE's have been getting simpler year-on-year for a quarter of a century; assessments lazier. At least Gove et al are finally admitting that this is the case, rather than the case of the head in the sand nonsense that English schools have laboured under for such a long time (and been mocked for doing so)
     
  12. Because giving more and more pupils more and more bits of paper at a higher and higher "level" is such a "good" idea - such has been the political orthodoxy in England since the 1980s
     
  13. Because giving more and more pupils more and more wee bits of paper at a higher and higher "level" is such a "good" idea - such has been the political orthodoxy in England since the 1980s
     
  14. bubblegirl83

    bubblegirl83 New commenter

    OP, couldn't agree more. I've been inundated with emails from parents asking why and I've explained to them (and pointed them in the direction of the national pres) and whilst they reasonable, they are angry and the buck stops with me. I work in a very high pressure, high achieving school and I worry that, once the dust settles, nobody will remember all the fuss of this year and just look at the headline statistics which paint our dept in a terrible light. A*-A down 25%. I know that is not the same as those not achiving a C but we have those pupils too and the pressures are different in different schools. SLT have told me not to worry but as a new HoD I am filled with anxiety about what the future holds, not to mention a load of pupils who have dropped their plan to study English at A level because it was their worst grade. I share all your fears.
     
  15. Lidnod

    Lidnod Star commenter

    I don't envy you having to motivate with those still to take GCSEs either. My ex Year 10 class, now 11, will be full of it - some have older friends or siblings who took English this year, while others will have seen the story on the TV and many will have read newspapers - lots of them the Daily Mail. There will be a sense of panic. They will look to their teachers for explanations and reassurance.
     
  16. At least it has all gone to the National Press http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19399434
     
  17. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    Except that they're still peddling the myth that "pupils had been marked too harshly" - whilst the evidence here seems to be that that was the case in SOME centres, for the most part, that's not the issue.

     
  18. That may well be the case, but the question is valid: how are we supposed to know how our pupils are going to do if bands don't relate to grades in some way? If we are asked for our professional opinion, what does it count for? What action did AQA take when, for the first time in the nine years that I've been head of department, final grades were way below estimated grades? I think you can all guess the answer to that question.
    I'm even more concerned about Year 10. We entered them for two exams in June - one in English Language and one in English Literature. They were estimated to get 55% A*-C in each exam; they got 34% and 53% respectively. How could one of our estimates have been so close when the other one was so inaccurate?
     
  19. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    It's a very good point, but - to be fair to the exam boards - it was Ofqual who forced them to collect estimated grades this time.
    Easy! I bet the accurate guess was for the English Literature exam. It does not have the same political pressure as English Language, so the grades are more likely to be accurate.
    (Having said that, English Lit grades did fall even more than English this summer, so maybe the pressure is there after all.)

     
  20. From looking at the UMS boundaries, the Controlled Assessment only went up by about 3 marks per unit - it's the Unit 1 Lang exam where the 10 mark inflation was. In terms of marking the CA, I'm going to decide on a band and just give it the highest mark within it. Might get a slap on the wrist but it's worth it!
     

Share This Page