Now that we no longer accept paper mark sheets, for our latest guest blog, we spoke to experienced exams officer, Tony Galbraith, the Data and Exams Manager from St Augustine Academy in Maidstone, who extols the virtues of using his management information system to submit controlled assessment/coursework marks. He also provides a step-by-step guide to get you started.
How long have you been submitting marks electronically using your MIS?
I’ve been using this process in my centre for 5 years, so I’d certainly says it’s tried and tested!
Why did you make the switch?
It was introduced in order to make more use of SIMS and reduce the amount of paper used within the Exams Office.
Does it work?
After initial reluctance by teaching staff to use the process, it’s now accepted by all and works well. No paper records are now used and virtually all of the exams administration is conducted using SIMS and PDF files attached to emails.
So, what would you say the advantages are?
There are a number of advantages to using the MIS, in this case SIMS, and A2C to submit assessment marks. These are:
The only disadvantage is that extra mark sheets have to be created in SIMS.
After initial reluctance by teaching staff to use the process, it’s now accepted by all and works well.
How do you do it?
When creating entry mark sheets for the various exam specifications, create a coursework mark sheet for each specification, which has a controlled assessment or coursework element.
SIMS will identify if there is a controlled assessment or coursework element in the specification and only permit the creation of coursework mark sheet if such an element exists, even if the basedata is set up with all the elements included under the specification award.
The mark sheet will show an entry column, a marks column and validation character column.
I recommend creating coursework mark sheets for each subject class, plus one for course and/or year group. The class mark sheets permit teachers to enter their marks and the course or year group mark sheets allow the exams officer to carry out final checks and administration prior to submission.
How do you enter marks?
Marks can be entered at any point prior to submission and the mark sheet will only permit marks which are within the permitted range to be entered. The mark sheet has a second column for the entry of a code, which validates the mark entered. The codes normally used are:
It's important to check that, when a zero mark has been entered, whether the student has completed work of no value or is absent. If the former then the Z code is used, as the work may be requested as part of the sample.
Once all marks and codes are entered, the marks can be submitted via A2C.
What about submitting marks?
You generate a submission file in the normal way, apart from, in this instance, the coursework marks option is chosen instead of entries or amendments.
Generate a submission file for each element, rather than, as for entries, one for all elements. A file for all elements will corrupt in transmission.
Any problems with the data will be identified as the submission file is generated. Once a submission file is generated successfully, submit to A2C. The file is then sent to the awarding body using A2C.
Depending on the awarding body, you may also need to send a copy of the marks to the moderator. For example, for OCR, I send a copy of the marks with the sample.
Once marks have been submitted then best practice is to delete the mark sheet.
If, during the moderation process, the moderator finds an arithmetical error then you re-create the mark sheet and amend the mark. This change is reflected in the student’s MIS record.
If you find a mark has been submitted incorrectly then the mark is changed on the MIS, but it is not possible to submit a coursework mark amendment file and you need to follow each awarding body’s instructions for amending marks.
For OCR, you submit an Amendment to Centre Marks form from Interchange (available from the 'Pre-release materials' page in 'Resources and materials'), email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and send a copy to the moderator.
More information about the OCR internal assessment process can be found within the assessment section.
Tony Galbraith - Data and Exams Manager, St Augustine Academy, Maidstone
Tony Galbraith was appointed as an Exams Officer in April 2008 and, following various re-organisations, now works in a combined role as the Data and Exams Manager. The workload of both roles means that day-to-day administration has to be kept to a manageable level, so the use of all aspects of his management information system is vital.