31/3/2021

Year 11 & 13 / Information regarding assessments and grades

 

Dear Parents/Carers

We wanted to inform you about the plans that we have for assessments in the coming weeks and the creation of a centre-assessed grade. The information below sets out how we intend to administer the assessments and the processes that we will use to create the final grade.

How will grades be awarded this summer?

Grades for GCSEs and A Levels will be based on a process that involves teacher assessment against national standards, internal quality assurance, and external quality assurance by the exam boards.

The national process defined by the Department for Education and the exams’ regulator, Ofqual is as follows:

  1. Departments will submit grades which will be quality assured by the school. The Headteacher will review and validate each school’s plans.
  2. Our school results will be quality assured externally by the exam boards, which may include random sampling of our school evidence.
  3. If the exam boards are confident in our submitted results, then the exam boards will award students their final grade. If they are not confident, they will investigate further with the school and the exam boards have the final say in changing final grades.
  4. If students think their final grades are not correct, they will have the right to appeal to the school.

So, do teachers award the grade?

Simply: No. The grade students achieve will start with their teacher’s assessment of their performance across a range of evidence. There is no limit on the achievement of students, providing they have evidence that they are working at that grade. It will be agreed by two members of staff: the Head of Faculty and the class teacher. This assessment is then subject to both internal and external quality assurance before the final grade is awarded by the exam body as usual.

What about loss of learning / impact of Covid?

This year, teachers will only assess students on content they have been taught – because of the continued disruption of the pandemic. This means students will not be disadvantaged if they individually or their whole year group have been unable to complete their full course. However, grades can only be submitted on the basis of the evidence we have of students’ performance, even if that evidence covers less of the course than usual. Students who would usually have extra time in exams will benefit from the same arrangements in any teacher assessments. Our students have covered the vast majority of the specifications at all levels. Thus, we have taken the decision to stop teaching any further new content and to focus on refining student understanding of what they have been taught. We have sufficient coverage to be confident we can devise assessment pieces across the grade range to start this process of arriving at final grades.

What evidence will be used?

Teachers are able to draw on a range of assessment evidence from across a student’s study of the course, as they deem appropriate provided they are confident in the relevant quality of that evidence, confident that it is the student’s own work and that it has been marked to equivalent examination standards and moderated across the department. Due to the need for internal quality assurance and administrative upload of the final grades, we will aim to stop gathering evidence of attainment by 28th May. As I am sure, you will want to be reassured about; this deadline will enable staff to complete careful marking of any final pieces of work, to moderate across the department to ensure consistency of marking, and to agree initial grades against the national standards. Then internal quality assurance will occur, any adjustments made and final upload of the grades by the exam administration team. We are required to collect the evidence used together, and subjects have already started to ask students to find and hand in past tasks in case we wish to use them as evidence. Staff have the marks stored, however, in case of a random inspection of evidence we need to collate and store historical and future evidence.

Will you be using the exam board provided materials?

Yes, we intend to use some of the provided materials for assessments after the Easter break. Tasks will be shorter, more guidance about what to revise given, reasonable time to complete, and if allowed more support materials available whilst tackling the tasks. It is extremely important that your son/daughter attends the assessments that will be taking place after Easter. The assessments that your son/daughter will be taking will form an important part of your son/daughters final grade. Failure to attend these assessments will result in less evidence being available for us to calculate a grade.

Can students and parents make the case for why a student should get a higher grade?

No. Teachers are unable to submit higher grades for students unless they have the evidence that they are consistently working at this level. If teachers submit higher grades without evidence, they are committing exam malpractice.

Can students discuss their grades with teachers?

No. Teachers will be able to discuss which evidence they are using to inform their judgement with students; however, we are not allowed to disclose their final submitted grade we give to exam boards. Students know how they did on historical tasks. For future evidence, they will not be informed of scores until all final evidence has been gathered. This is to avoid them becoming distracted from preparing for any additional task and to allow staff the time they need to mark and assess carefully.

What steps are in place to mitigate against bias or malpractice?

Each student will be using their candidate number instead of their name on future assessments.

Staff have been asked to consider carefully the choice of task and scenarios involved to ensure fair access for all students.

All future assessments will be taking place in a controlled examination environment. These will be administered as per PPE’s with invigilators, covid and exam board regulations.

What should students do to improve their grades?

The best thing students can do is to continue to attend classes, learn how to refine and refresh their knowledge and techniques, act on feedback from their teachers, whether given previously, as individuals or whole class, verbal or written, revise (much of the lessons now will be very focussed revision designed to help), and read around their subject. The grade will be based on their performance, and so their outcomes are ultimately in their hands.

Kind regards

Mr A Bate

Headteacher

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