Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The reform of A level qualifications in the sciences Dennis Opposs SCORE seminar on grading of practical work in A level sciences, 17 October 2014, London.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "The reform of A level qualifications in the sciences Dennis Opposs SCORE seminar on grading of practical work in A level sciences, 17 October 2014, London."— Presentation transcript:

1 The reform of A level qualifications in the sciences Dennis Opposs SCORE seminar on grading of practical work in A level sciences, 17 October 2014, London

2 A level reform in England We want qualifications that: properly prepare young people for next steps in education or work provide a level playing field for all students give valid results in which people can have confidence

3 Key decisions on A level reform AS to be decoupled – but we expect they will be co-teachable, so significant flexibility remains Otherwise, no fundamental changes to A levels – evidence is that they are broadly fit for purpose A levels and AS to remain at the same standard as now Some subjects undergoing significant review – mathematics, languages, geography Sciences content updated Other subjects will continue much as they are

4 A level reform schedule Subjects for teaching from September 2015: English language English literature English language and literature Biology Chemistry Physics Psychology Computer science Business History Art and design Economics Sociology

5 Current requirements In the A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics subject currently: The practical skills are assessed through tasks set by the exam boards or, in some cases, by schools and colleges Assessments are supervised by teachers and are marked either by the teacher or by the exam board Assessments are marked with the expectation of discrimination across the full ability range Outcomes from the assessments contribute to the overall grades awarded to students

6 Current issues (1) There are a range of concerns about the current arrangements for the assessment of the practical skills: The assessments do not discriminate effectively between different levels of performance Students’ grades for the practical assessments often exceed those for their written exams Overall grades do not make clear students’ practical attainment

7 Current issues (2) HE representatives have said the technical and manipulative skills of students entering courses are generally not strong enough The range of assessments is limiting students' experience of practical work The results cannot be validated effectively The flexibility of the current assessments and the pressures in schools and colleges create the potential for malpractice

8 Getting things right (1) We have considered how to strengthen the arrangements: We have analysed the current qualifications and have discussed the issues and possible ways of addressing them with a wide range of stakeholder groups: –exam boards –teaching and subject bodies –the wider science community We have all agreed that the current arrangements are not delivering good educational outcomes and need to change The feedback and suggestions from all those consulted have been extremely helpful in shaping our views

9 Getting things right (2) We have not been able to determine an approach that: –involves a sufficiently wide and varied range of practical work and experimentation –would provide direct, objective and manageable assessment of practical skills –could be marked sufficiently reliably and consistently and with enough discrimination for the assessment to contribute to the overall qualification grade We have taken forward into the reformed arrangements for first teaching in September 2015 several elements proposed by different stakeholder groups We announced our decisions on these arrangements in April 2014, following our consultation the previous autumn

10 Key changes (1) In the reformed A level science subjects: Students taking each of Biology, Chemistry and Physics will have to complete at least 12 practical activities during the course These activities must enable students to engage with a list of specific apparatus and techniques detailed in the content requirements for all qualifications Students’ practical skills will be assessed in two main ways

11 Key changes (2) The written exams – for Biology, Chemistry and Physics as well as for Psychology – will include questions about the theory and application of practical skills These will address requirements such as commenting on experimental design and evaluating scientific methods They will form at least 15% of the total marks for each of Biology, Chemistry and Physics and 25-30% of those for Psychology

12 Key changes (3) Students’ practical skills when conducting the required activities for A level Biology, Chemistry and Physics will be directly assessed by teachers The skills will include making and recording observations, applying investigative approaches and methods to practical work, as well as working safely using instruments Attainment in these practical skills will be reported (pass/fail) on the certificate alongside the qualification grade rather than contributing to it

13 Addressing the new requirements (1) To ensure that the new requirements are met: Schools and colleges must keep records of the practical work undertaken by all their students Each student must also keep a laboratory book/record for each practical activity Exam boards will conduct live checks of students completing their practical work and the assessment by teachers Exam boards will identify any schools and colleges where the entire qualification is not being taught We plan to discuss with Ofsted the arrangements they may put in place to check practice

14 Addressing the new requirements (2) The exam boards are conducting a trial this term to: Finalise the common practical assessment criteria teachers will use to assess practical skills in Biology, Chemistry and Physics Determine consistent arrangements between the exam boards for assessing and monitoring practical work Make sure the arrangements in place are fit for purpose and promote the best science teaching and learning

15 Summary Ofqual and others are firmly of the view that practical skills are an integral part of A level science courses It is widely accepted that the current arrangements need to change The new arrangements will –give schools and colleges the opportunity to make practical work central to their teaching –provide opportunities to assess students’ practical skills better than at present –enable the assessment of the learning that has taken place through practical work to contribute to the qualification grade

16 Further information Contact me at

Download ppt "The reform of A level qualifications in the sciences Dennis Opposs SCORE seminar on grading of practical work in A level sciences, 17 October 2014, London."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google