Vinay Thawait, Neil Hateley, Ceredig Cattanach-Chell – OCR Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisors
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, we’ve summarised the questions asked at our computer science Q&A event.
Consider the quality of the evidence before making a holistic judgement. When was the work completed? What level of control? What type of work? Look at the worked examples the JCQ provides.
What is the profile of the student, what characteristics do they share with grade descriptors etc.
For general qualifications (GCSE, AS and A Level) a ‘range’ means that different types of evidence can be used, as well as evidence of different parts of the specification being covered. The JCQ Guidance has much more on this.
A couple of key things to bear in mind are that whilst this evidence is not being prescribed by exam boards, it does need to be as consistent as possible for all your students, unless there is a good reason why the work would not be representative, e.g. a student or students missed more content than their peers because of self-isolation, or they have experienced adverse circumstances.
This is to ensure that your grading judgements are consistent for your students in your centre.
You’ll need evidence to support each grade that you have determined, evidencing that it is the grade that a student is working at. This evidence is not being prescribed by exam boards, but does need to be as consistent as possible for all your students, unless they have experienced adverse circumstances. This is to ensure that your grading judgements are consistent for your students in your centre.
You may use different evidence however if the student has experienced adverse circumstances. Please check the JCQ publication A guide to the special consideration process to see the types of adverse circumstances a student might experience in a normal year of examinations.
JCQ has also published the guidance Special consideration – Summer 2021 and Special Consideration Decision Tree that may help you.
It’s a holistic approach and you need to use your professional judgement in order to come to an overall certification grade. Consider the quality of the evidence that you have and the level of control etc. Review the evidence. Read through the grade descriptors. Match the student’s evidence to the suitable statements within the grade descriptors.
A student’s collection of evidence may contain characteristics from different grade descriptors. For example, a student may show characteristics of Grade A in one area, and characteristics of Grade B in another area. For assistance with making grading decisions in such situations, please refer to JCQ’s worked examples.
A student’s collection of evidence may contain characteristics from different grade descriptors (for example, characteristics of a Grade 6 in one area and characteristics of a Grade 2 in another area). For assistance with making grading decisions in such situations, please refer to JCQ’s worked examples. Our grading exemplars also include commentary on uneven profile candidates.
You can use the 2019 grade boundaries for any NEA evidence, if this will be helpful for you. We’d also recommend looking at the grading exemplar work. Equally, you can continue with marks. The NEA is only one of the pieces of evidence you’ll be using to determine overall grade. Grades should be based on your holistic judgement of all the evidence, using the grade descriptors and grading exemplar work to help you. It is not necessary to assign an individual grade to every part of the specification.
Autumn 2020 was an atypical series for all qualifications (including GCSE (9-1) Computer Science). The last ‘regular’ exam series was 2019. Use the grade boundaries as a guide, but remember grades should be determined by a holistic look at the evidence for the student. There isn't a requirement to use question papers and turn the result into a grade; the mark might suffice when compared to grade descriptors and exemplification.
Schools and colleges are required to compare the grades they submit this year with the grades of their cohorts from pre-2020, when exams took place. However, grading judgements should not be driven by this data. Historical grade data should only be considered after grading judgements have been made.
There is no requirement for you to use NEA for A Level or a programming project for GCSE as a source of evidence. If you have decided that any NEA /programming project will form part of the range of evidence for your cohort, you should make a note to indicate that this evidence wasn’t available for these particular students to justify why their range of evidence will differ.
The student should not be penalised for this. Their grade should only be based on the evidence you have available for them. It should not be based on what they may or may not have achieved in the NEA. If the other available evidence provides you with enough content and skills coverage to determine a grade, you do not need to find other sources of evidence.
If you have any further questions about this summer’s grading process, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to receive email updates 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.
Vinay Thawait - Subject Advisor - Computer Science, IT and iMedia
Vinay joined OCR in July 2014 to support the GQ reform and development of the AS and A Level Computer Science qualifications. Since then, he has been involved in the development of the reformed GCSE (9-1) Computer Science and Entry Level Computer Science and currently with the redevelopment of Cambridge National in IT. Before joining OCR, Vinay spent 20 years in IT and Computer Science teaching and leadership roles, working for several schools as well as local authorities. He was the National Bid Lead for the Building Schools for the Future initiative (BSF) within Capita IT, and also the Head of Operations for an audio visual educational software development company. Vinay has a degree, three post-graduate masters and NPQH from the Warwick, Coventry and Nottingham Universities.