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Serious foul-up on A Level mathematics exam

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by DM, May 27, 2011.

  1. DM

    DM New commenter

    The thing that won't happen - a new paper issued at the end of this exam session so no student is disadvantaged.
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

  3. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    So they are going to blag it a bit - set the grade boundary low enough to get he expected number of candidates at each grade etc.
    This is totally unsatisfactory.
    candidate A spent ages on this question and panicked causing them to perform really badly on other questions - will get an OK mark due to the fiddling but not the A grade they were predicted as they made a hash of the paper.
    candidate B (for whatever reason) never attempted this question and but did as expected, say equivalent to a C grade on rest of paper but now due to the grade boundary adjustments gets a B
    How will this scenario be avoided?
  4. I'm not sure if this is possible within the rules of OCR, but I think in such a situation there should be outside observers at not only the grading meetings but also the standardisation meetings.
  5. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    This is absolutely appalling.
    Obviously, the paper was not trialled properly before being given to candidates whose futures depended on it.
    No 'statistical methods' can make up for this. If I'd been taking this exam, I would have spent some time on it, to the detriment of other questions, lost confidence, which would have affected my performance on other questions, then would have diverted precious checking time at the end back to this question, again to the detriment of other questions.
    Sure, some might have spent a short time on it, given up, and not gone back to it. They'll be OK.
    So the sorts of students who don't want to 'give up', who are determined to meet the challenge of what appears to be a 'difficult' question, to get the top grade they're aiming for, will be far worse affected than those who just avoid it and think 'That's too hard for me!' How do 'statistical methods' assess personality variables?
    The only fair course of action would be to arrange a resit for all candidates - soon!
  6. The reason I suggested outside observers at a standardisation meeting would be to quickly decide whether to give the candidates a second chance - the January 2012 paper could be used. If it was decided that a second chance was not needed, then that decision would have to be defended at the grading meetings and final award meeting. Again there should be competent outside observers.
    Candidates should, of course, be advised not to spend too long on individual questions or parts of questions. That doesn't excuse the appalling error made by the setter of the paper. He or she should never be invited by OCR to set a paper again.
  7. Yes could be a good idea. Do you think many may not trust the paper and may be hindered anyhow by having to go through it again?
    Were the first 5 questions good enough to award the total UMS? Again not ideal on many levels but may be an option?
  8. Questions 1 to 5 were worth 50 marks out of the paper total of 72. Question 6 was the final question so much content had already been covered.
  9. It would seem logical to exclude q6 from the marks but as you know, many kids skip questions and come back to the earlier ones. One pupil for example may have left q4, gone on to q6 and went through the stress and then messed up or didnt even answer q4 when they went back to it.
    Such a tought one to find the best approach. I know many of my students would not want to take the paper again and would possibly lose faith.

  10. I seem to remember a similar issue a few years ago on Edexcel's D1 paper, where a netwrok on the question paper had different weights on it from the one in the answer booklet. It meant chaos for candidates, as one version became unsolveable. I can't recall what happened in the end, but I think they did a bit of a fiddle as OCR seem to be doing this time. It's never acceptable and is another reason for a single, properly regulated exam board (or the use of the IB).

    cyolba, appalled at the cost cutting by OCR :)
  11. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    Totally agree it is appalling and could affect not just this paper but other future papers as well, once a well prepared confident student has suffered the confusion of this paper it could impact on their future papers in any subject.
    A' Level results as DM said can make or break a university course acceptance and that could be life changing for the students.
    OCR should be thoroughly ashamed.
    Why don't we have one awarding body and then there could be no game playing of swithching boards to improve results.
  12. DM

    DM New commenter

    It is a shame to see posts disappearing from this thread.
    Considering the potential harm this mistake may cause (e.g. every student who fails to make their university offer or insurance offer and has to resit next year will have to pay £9,000 p.a. of fees instead of £3,000 p.a.), I think this discussion has been both even-handed and moderate.
  13. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    Maybe all students affected should sue OCR for the course fees? Do you think a No win, no fee company would take the case on?

  14. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    It sounds like an absolutely unbelievable scenario. Doesn't anyone actually go through the paper to make sure it works before it is signed off for the printers?
    Wouldn't it be possible to have a look at the predicted grades, based upon how the students did on the first 5 questions? That way the results could at least be in line with what the students were expecting, rather than a bland B for all.
  15. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Mike, I couldn't agree more. Although we repeatedly tell students to move on and come back to difficult problems, good keen students hate to be beaten, and so will often not follow this advice as much as they should.

    And it's not just blatantly wrong questions, but badly formulated ones that hit the ablest students hardest. When there are ambiguities or harder to see possibilities in a question these will often be invisible to less capable students, who will finish them quickly. But more capable ones will agonise over these things and spend a lot more time on the question.

    The only solution that I can see is that a reasonable number of people should give exams a dry run, before they are printed en mass. This isn't just an A-Level problem. I've seen the same thing in New Zealand NCEA - I can't recall coming across any bad problems for IB.
  16. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I dont really see the need for this and confidentiality also becomes an issue. All it takes is one or two competent examiners to check the paper.
    No one capable of setting A Level examinations and / or checking them should have failed to notice this mistake.
  17. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Most students will have done this and seen the answers. I twould be totally impratical to set it again.
  18. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    I don't suppose you could get me a copy of the January 2012 then Mike? I am sure there are some people around who may not have seen it...


  19. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    oh yes fair point - sry - i should have known Polecat would have been making a good post not a stupid one like mine.
  20. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    January <u>2012</u>??

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