Andy Brunning - OCR Science 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 science Q&A event.
No minimum is stipulated. The evidence doesn’t need to cover every aspect of the specification, but the aim is to include evidence that shows the student’s ability across the range of content taught and, where possible, all assessment objectives.
Consider whether the evidence you already have is sufficient; if not, consider if the optional additional assessment materials provided by us could be used to supplement or help confirm students’ performance.
This year’s approach is holistic and you need to use your professional judgement in order to come to an overall grade. Consider the quality of the evidence that you have and the level of control it was produced under. Review the evidence, read through the grade descriptors, and match the student’s evidence to a suitable grade.
A student’s collection of evidence may contain characteristics from different grade descriptors. For example, a student may show characteristics of a Grade 6 in one topic, and characteristics of a Grade 2 in another topic. For assistance with making grading decisions in such situations, please refer to worked examples to assist teachers making grading decisions. You can also refer to our science-specific exemplar materials.
Evidence does need to be as consistent as possible. We understand that there may be some differences in evidence across your cohort due to individual students’ circumstances, but this will need to be justified in each case. You cannot disregard evidence just because a student did not perform as well.
The JCQ have produced a guide to the special consideration process which identifies the types of adverse circumstances a student might have experienced which may justify flexibility in the evidence used for a particular student.
Yes you can, but with the mark or grade you should include a copy of the assessment, mark scheme and any grade boundaries used. The JCQ has produced exemplar materials which show how this might work in practice, when used alongside other physical evidence.
However, you should try and prioritise using data which you have the physical evidence for.
Grade boundaries of past examination papers are a useful indicator of the standard of performance and can be used as a guide. But do remember, grading decisions should be informed by a holistic look at the evidence for the student. Comparing evidence to grade descriptors and exemplification will provide assurance of the standard of the evidence.
November 2020 was an atypical year, and the grade boundaries for this series are consequently less useful as a guide to the expected standard. The last 'regular' exam series was 2019.
Yes you can. Late fees do not apply for this summer. You can use evidence from the Separate Sciences for Combined Science (and vice versa). You can also use Higher tier evidence for Foundation and vice versa if students have moved tiers..
The modified arrangements for awarding the practical endorsement made earlier this year still apply. A student can be awarded a Pass in the practical endorsement even if they have not completed the usual minimum of 12 practical activities. However, they need to have demonstrated competence in all of the 1.2.1 practical skills and the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC).
In exceptional cases, students whose pattern of practical work over the two-year A level indicates that they were clearly on course to demonstrate competence in all of the 1.2.1 criteria and CPAC may also be awarded a Pass. This exception is intended to be used where students are genuinely unable to complete further practical work before the submission deadline and is not an alternative to carrying out additional practical work where this is possible.
It is not necessary for students to have demonstrated competence in all of the 1.2.2 apparatus and techniques to achieve a Pass this year. However, please be aware that any assessment material you might use may indirectly assess some of these practical techniques.
Yes, the only thing that is prohibited is telling your students their TAG before results day. You can share their practical endorsement outcome with them, and you can also share results from the evidence you are using to support their grades.
If you have further questions about this summer’s grading process, you can email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or Tweet us @OCR_Science. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive 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.
Andy joined OCR in September 2017 as the subject advisor for A Level Chemistry. He has a Chemistry BSc and a Secondary Science PGCE from the University of Bath. Before joining OCR, he worked as a chemistry teacher in Bournemouth and Cambridge. He also sidelines as a science communicator and has produced infographic projects for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Chemical Society.