GCSE Marking Shake-Up led By OCR Amid Concerns of Marking Accuracy

GCSE Marking Shake-Up led By OCR Amid Concerns of Marking Accuracy: Following concerns over the accuracy of GCSE and A-level marking, OCR – one of Britain’s largest exam boards – is set to launch a trial program which will allow teachers to complete the marking of exam scripts in their time at work rather than in the evenings following a full day at school or college. This will be the first time teachers will be given designated time away from the classroom within school hours in which to mark exam papers and is a proposed method of dealing with the ‘systematic acceptance of errors’ which has been commented on in exam marking.

There will also be a new drive to recruit more senior teachers in to examination roles and increase the amount of training available.

GCSE Marking Shake-Up led By OCR Amid Concerns of Marking Accuracy_VoicED_Exam Market Research

GCSE Marking Shake-Up led By OCR Amid Concerns of Marking Accuracy
Image: Qperello, Alberto G, via Wikimedia Commons

The announcement comes in the wake of figures published by Ofqual, the examinations watchdog, which revealed a record number of test scripts across GCSEs an A-levels were re-graded this summer after complaints from schools. The actual figure for the number of scripts re-graded sat at 54,400 – a figure which has doubled in last four years.

The current system for marking sees the vast majority  – nine out of ten – exam papers graded by either current or recently retired teachers, with almost all work taking place at home via on-screen marking applications provided by exam boards.

OCR’s new system will see the exam body link with major organisations in the state and independent sector and will lead to 10 groups of schools from across the country being designated as exam marking hubs. Schools will assign specific rooms within their buildings, and set aside time within the school day, where teachers can complete script marking. The reforms are set to begin in September 2014 and will affect GCSEs, A-levels and other forms of qualifications. Most marking will take place after the common exam seasons in May and June to avoid the potential for students to access papers early.

Both the Association of School and College Leaders and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are backing the move, as well as The Girls’ Schools Association and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.

Caroline Jordan, chairman of the GSA’s education committee and a headmistresses at Headington School in Oxford, said that the ‘systematic acceptance of errors in the [current] system just goes to demonstrate a huge lack of confidence…reduced grades are unjustly affecting the future of the children that we have spent the last seven years nurturing.’

Ms Jordan noted that she ‘would not expect a surgeon to do his work at home, late at night, so why do we expect exam scripts to be marked in this way?’

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