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GCSE results

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by curlyk, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    It seems that whenever you set essays as a form of assessment you get unreliable and inconsistent marking. The mark schemes do not help. The AQA one is too vague, open to subjective interpretation and relates content too closely with range and accuracy. At least with the previousone you knew that you could get a certain mark by jumping through certain hoops (notably complex sentences with at least two clauses).

    We are stuck in a rut of assessing writing separately from other skills and awarding it too many marks anyway. We do noty use separate skills assessment at AS and A-level. Why at GCSE? It creates more problems than it solves.

    Why do we persist with the written composition format? You could probably assess writing more accurately by using question-answer on a text, cloze, multi-choice, short paragraph writing. A tightly focused mark scheme would do away with all the inaccuracy of marking. Notice I did not say prose translation! Please, no!
  2. I haven't posted on here for ages but I've read these comments with interest. I have never attended one of those meetings where exam boards decide the grade boundaries for the different skills, but I have spoken to people who have. This is what I understand happens (more or less):

    - certain stats are factored in to the equation somehow (I don't know what these stats are)

    and this gives a prediction as to how many kids will get each grade (I think this is the

    same for all subjects)

    - the govt says the exam board has to keep to these figures with a very slight leeway

    - the exam boards make sure that the right number of kids get the overall grade predicted

    by the grade boundaries for each skill

    I suppose that's a simplistic explanation and if anyone knows better, they might clarify. But, if that's broadly the case, throughout the country the distribution of overall grades is as it must be, determined by the govt. My wriitng grades, too, were lower than I had predicted but the overall grades were generally OK with the odd anomaly. I just think the writing grade boundaries are too high but conversely, according to those mysterious stats that exam boards have to stick to, at least one other boundary must be too low. Mustn't it?
  3. My feeling exactly. We are with Edexcel and the same happened to us: very good Speaking results (all upheld by the moderator) and awful writing marks, all a grade below what I had expected. I cannot help feeling this may have something to do with the demise of that part of the exam in a couple of years. Are we paving the way for the new writing exam and is this intended in getting us used to lower results in that paper?
  4. great suggestion spsmith45! This would be a much better way to assess quality of language and ability to manipulate the language. It would also eliminate all the subjectivity of essay marking and make rechurned learnt by heart essays a thing of the past. I am with you on that!.
  5. The new AQA certificate is a step forward. We will be doing it from now on.
  6. Thanks for your good wishes. I totally agree with the idea that grades awarded for CA often are surprising. You sometimes wonder if the examiner is having a bad day or if they even have the same mark scheme as you!. I really think what is expected at GCSE is too ambitious. To presume pupils will be spontaneous and initiate conversations etc is only realistic for a select few. We are thinking of doing the AQA Certificate -linear exam. Oh dear MFL teaching is not really for the faint-hearted!

    Have a wonderful retirement. Hope you have lots of fantastic things planned.
  7. I've just been checking our WJEC Spanish as the person i/c of Spanish is away. We have pupils with A* in the other 3 skills and D in the listening. 6/14 got U!! This despite the same pupils getting As and A* in French and all other subjects.
  8. We are also with WJEC and the French writing has harvested some very odd marks - good pupils getting lower marks than lower set pupils. Plus the entire cohort was then downgraded from the original examiner's marks AND the grade boundaries have been moved up. This has cost a large number of pupils a grade. Our speaking marks are accepted and correct but we don't seem to be able to accurately mark the writing it would seem.......
  9. I have been an Edexcel examiner for a number of years and I agree with much that has been written. I think the open-ended nature of the writing task as it stands makes marking extremely difficult. I also suspect, although I could never prove it, that some candidates have more help than others. Sometimes whole centres write tasks which all have the same format - it seems as though a very tight writing frame has been given or perhaps a model text and candidates have just made a few adjustments. Work in this category rarely receives more than 12 for C & C, because it's usually "pedestrian". I can't speak for other examiners, but I honestly think I now have a "feel" for the marks. I hope a couple of hints are useful. The key phrases in the mark scheme for the top band are "no ambiguity", "coherent" and "pleasant to read". There should be nothing at all which is difficult to understand and there should be some logical sequence to the work. Examiners ignore the bullet points, which don't all have to be covered. Occasionally candidates stick rigidly to the bullet points and produce very stilted and disjointed work. "Pleasant to read" is very subjective, but I would expect something which genuinely seems to be the candidate's own thoughts rather than regurgitating from a text book. For K & A, it is theoretically possible for a candidate to achieve high marks with just two tenses, but unlikely. Two tenses are needed for 5/10, but I would expect to see at least four for the top box plus a really good range of different sentence structures, including different connectives (not just "because"), correctly declined adjectives and adverbial phrases with little repetition. I would expect to see four or five really "fancy phrases" and some unusual vocabulary - it really is amazing how many pieces of work rely on some form of the verb "to be" and a token past participle (not always used accurately). Lists and repetitive sentence structure should be avoided. The poster who wrote that accuracy marks are capped is correct. Candidates cannot score high accuracy marks unless they have a minimum K & A mark. The majority of candidates are awarded 3 or 4 for accuracy.
  10. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    Thank you - what is written is really helpful and gives an informative in-sight that could be applied to all exam boards and their criteria. Thanks for taking the time to post.
  11. curlyk

    curlyk New commenter

    I totally agree with spsmith45. Any mark scheme where the criteria can be interpreted subjectively should have no place in MFL GCSE writing assessment .I used to mark GCSE scripts in Ye Olden days when you had to literally tick off certain grammar points made accurately by the students on their written exam scripts. The number of ticks over a prescribed number of words gave you ,give or take the mark/grade given.Marking stopped at the cut off point of the number of words required for the task. The number of rubbish scripts sent in was ridiculous, but the marking criteria were straight forward and everyone ,pupils and teachers ,knew what to expect when results day came.Once again this year,the marking of the writing CAs have been the bugbear of teachers and pupils alike. I presume many departments will be moving over to the AQA iGCSE certificate, in a desperate attempt to avoid the lottery of predicting grades when CAs are involved .The testing of writing skills in composition format for all but the most able linguist ,seems to be pointless, but we still persist in it.Come on,powers that be,call in people like spsmith45 to have ago at coming up with an exam fit for the 21st century.Going back to the old O level exam assessment style , be it through dictation ,prose translation or a picture essay composition ,is not going to move MFL teaching and learning forward.
  12. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    Well....have come home after our first day back an how do I feel? Elated? On a high? Raring to go go? Oh in the ideal world I should be .... but no! Totally and utterly deflated. I worked so hatd over the last two years with my students and only to find I have some of the worst residuals in the school, my predictions were way out, my outstanding teaching called into questioning.....dont know what to do. Feel like the proverbial do-do .... how can I lead a dept when I so obviously don't know what I'm doing? Sorry to rant just so so upset.
  13. Salsera, I am so with you on this one... Our head got their aspirations targets and threw it a t us so mfl comes -9 when these were not my predictions they are the ks2 English predictions... We got 82% a to c and yet they think we should have had 91%. I feel tutelary useless and just want to change profession...
  14. curlyk

    curlyk New commenter

    Come on, guys.You know you love the teaching part of your job.Summon up a polite smile of acceptance of your `crapitude` in the eyes of SMT , perhaps ask for more time re lessons /resources/courses ,to get your` underachieving` department back on track !!!! and then carry on doing the magnificent job you know you are doing,your way. Your results speak for themselves.I think SMTs have to try and justify their existence by brandishing a few targets etc at the staff ,otherwise we might start to question why we need them in the first place.If people like you start to leave the profession, MFL teaching is doomed . The fact that SMTs are making their staff feel like this on the first day of term says a lot about their man management skills .Imagine making your students feel like that on their first day.!!
  15. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    It's my own results though - the worst I've had in twenty years.....oh we also had a top ten run down of who had the closest predictions as well - way to go!! Was also told not to blame movement in grade boundaries for poor results and differences in predicted and actual grades.

  16. I am in exactly the same situation. My worst results ever, due to the fact that even my brightest pupils only achieved a D in the listening but the majority of my higher set got a U in listening. Had I not entered my pupils for higher listening, results would have been good. I have focused on listening all year and refuse to believe that I have become incompetent over night. Our leadership team question what to do about the results and other than entering all my students for foundation listening, I have no solution to offer at present. We are with the WJEC. MFL already have a reputation for being hard with pupils in our school, this will not help.
  17. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    WJEC too - can't believe I'm reacting like this. Our listening and reading marks were also lower than all the practice papers we have done. I accept that the answers are right or wrong, there can be no ambiguity or error in marking (I am assuming)......

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