Alex Orgee – Classics 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’ll summarise the questions asked at our Ancient History and Classical Civilisation Q&A event.
We’re not being – and we can’t be – prescriptive on what is a minimum evidence threshold because each centre can use different pieces of evidence. It is important that you collect sufficient evidence to ensure that you are confident awarding grades to your students. However, it is worth considering the following points:
If you feel that you don’t have enough evidence to make your holistic grading decision, you may wish to consider using some of the additional assessment materials we have released to supplement or help confirm student performance.
The evidence that can be included within your basket can include:
In the context of the Ancient History and Classical Civilisation qualifications, the following gives potential examples of what might be considered substantial enough to be used as a piece of evidence:
In terms of coverage, your basket of evidence doesn’t need to cover every aspect of the specification. The aim is to include evidence that shows the student’s ability across the range of content taught and, where possible, all assessment objectives.
The evidence used to make your holistic judgements should be as consistent as possible across your cohort, unless they have experienced adverse circumstances. This includes, where possible, using the same tasks, as outlined in the JCQ Grading FAQ document. This is to ensure that your grading judgements are consistent for your students in your centre.
In cases where a student has missed more content than their peers because of self-isolation, experienced adverse circumstances at the time of producing the work/evidence or was absent at the time, you might wish to use other evidence to come to your holistic judgement.
If you have enough holistic evidence to provide a grade, then you can justify omitting it. If not, you would need a rationale to explain the replacement (which could be just ‘they were absent’). It would be useful in this case if the replacement was similar as this would provide greater confidence in the grade you are providing.
Where different evidence is used, this must be recorded on the Assessment Record, with a rationale provided. The JCQ Summer 2021 page includes a template that you could use.
You should use the mark scheme and marking grids to mark the work your students have produced. Once you have collected your basket of evidence, we recommend that you use the grade descriptors in conjunction with the grading exemplars we have released, attempting to match your student’s performance to these materials, to come to a holistic decision on what grade to award.
Where your student’s performances consistently meet all the Grade 8 / Grade A descriptors, you can consider awarding a Grade 9 / Grade A*. It’s perfectly legitimate to give an A* or Grade 9 where you have a mix of A/A* or Grade 8/9 evidence if, on balance and looking at the evidence as a whole, students are more closely aligned to an A* or Grade 9 performance.
The grade boundaries for the papers sat in the autumn 2020 series were calculated based on the summer 2020 standard so that it was in theory no easier or harder to gain a particular grade than had been the case through the centre assessed grade route from the summer.
As has been widely reported, the outcomes for the summer 2020 series at a national level were higher than the summer 2019 series. To be as fair as we can to the students taking their exam in the autumn, we, and all other exam boards, carried forward the generosity from summer 2020 grades, the majority of which were based on centre assessment grades. The calculations of the grade boundaries in autumn 2020 were heavily influenced by the last normal examination series, the summer 2019 examination series. The blog from Ofqual goes into a little more detail on what exam boards were required to do.
The policy for the teacher assessed grades this summer is that it should be no easier or more difficult for a student to achieve a grade in summer 2021 compared to the years when examinations took place as normal. The autumn 2020 boundaries were set lower than they would normally and to a different standard and this is why they should not be used.
Once you have collected your basket of evidence, we recommend that you use the grade descriptors in conjunction with the grading exemplars we have released, attempting to match your student’s performance to these materials, to come to a holistic decision on what grade to award. The JCQ has produced a number of worked examples to help you.
Centres that offer only A levels or only GCSEs will be asked to submit only work for those qualifications. The sampling will be determined centrally, so it is one A Level and two GCSEs per centre, and not per exam board.
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).
If you have further questions about this summer’s grading process, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01223 553998. 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.
Alex has worked at OCR since 2009, first joining the Classics team in 2012. Since then, he has been involved in the redevelopment of all the Classics qualifications. In his spare time, Alex enjoys cycling, watching sport, and gardening.