Lucy Carey, Subject Advisor
In the past weeks, we’ve been running online Q&A events to give you a chance to ask subject-specific questions about this year’s grading process. This followed our roundtable video, which gives suggestions on how to use support materials and answers many general grading questions. In this blog, I’ve summarised the questions asked at our Psychology GCSE and A Level and Sociology Q&A event.
Holistically. Grade descriptors will help you identify how the range of evidence for each student aligns with the expected performance standards. There are a number of steps:
The written record for each candidate will not need to be extensive in most cases. Given the requirement for consistent sources of evidence across a class or cohort, what many centres are doing (and it seems a very sensible approach) is making a record at class or cohort level of what evidence they have used and why, and then for each candidate just confirming that they have used that evidence. If they have moved away from that consistency (for example, because someone was ill for a mock or similar) then they have noted that for the candidate in question.
They would also note if they had needed to take into account a failure to provide access arrangements, or special consideration, or anything of that nature. Finally, if the candidate was in any way borderline, they would explain why they went for one grade and not another.
So effectively in some cases you will have very little to write because the candidate had the same evidence as everyone else, there were no circumstances to take into account and nothing much to say on the grading determination as it was very straightforward, in others there will be a longer record.
It is completely up to the centre how they want to record the information about the grading determination, but there are some templates that JCQ has produced that you may find helpful.
Consider the level of control - does that level make it a stronger representation of candidate performance? Higher levels of control could give more confidence in the candidate’s performance and own work.
Schools and colleges are required to compare the grades they submit this year with cohorts from previous years, when exams have taken place. However, grading judgements should not be driven by this data. Historical grade data should only be considered after grading judgements have been made.
At all times, it will be the evidence of students’ work that must form the basis for each student’s grade. Centres should not change grades only on the basis of data comparison.
Once the grades are received, every centre will be asked to provide samples of student work. Exam boards will request at least the following evidence:
Centres that offer only A Levels or only GCSEs will be asked to submit only work for those qualifications.
All centres will be asked to provide the evidence used to determine the grades for the students selected. Exam boards will decide on the subjects and the students (selected from across the grade range, and potentially including private candidates where centres have accepted them). This was discussed more recently in the guidance in the recent Ofqual blog.
As teachers will not yet have made any final decisions about the range of evidence on which candidates’ grades will be based, all candidate work and mark records for assessments should be retained for the time being as they might later be selected to form part of the final evidence base.
If some evidence of candidates’ work is not available (for example, because it was from earlier in the course and evidence was not retained at that point), the marks can still be used in determining the final grade, and the evidence that is available can be considered by the awarding organisations if the candidate decides to appeal on the grounds of the grade being unreasonable based on the evidence provided.
Worked example 4 on the JCQ site highlights how other students work could be used as evidence of the type of work being completed.
Ofqual has published information and guidance about the appeals process so far.
Students will be able to appeal their grade. A student who is unhappy with their grade will first ask their centre to check whether an administrative or procedural error had been made. Where a centre does identify an error in the grade submitted to the exam board, it can submit a revised grade and a rationale for the board to consider. If the exam board is satisfied with the rationale, it will issue a revised grade.
Where a centre does not believe an error had been made, a student can ask the centre to appeal to the exam board on their behalf. The centre will submit the student’s appeal to the exam board and provide the evidence on which its judgement had been made. The exam board will consider whether, in its view, the grade reflected an appropriate exercise of academic judgement. If the exam board judges that it did not, the exam board will determine the grade that the evidence would support. The exam board will also check that the centre had followed its own process.
A student’s grade could go up or down following an appeal.
If you have further questions about this summer’s grading process, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Psychology or @OCR_Sociology. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about resources and support.
All advice and guidance provided by awarding bodies regarding arrangements for summer 2021 undergoes ratification by the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications). This is to ensure that awarding bodies provide consistent information to centres. The content of the above blog is currently being reviewed by the JCQ and is therefore potentially subject to some change in wording.
Lucy joined OCR in September 2017 as the Subject Advisor for Sociology and Psychology. Before joining OCR she worked as a teacher as the head of Sociology and Psychology departments in Peterborough, Yorkshire and Cambridge. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving and travel – and now maybe a bit of birdwatching too!