Exam answer in Computing textbook heralds more problems for OCR  

coverOCRcomputingStudents taking the OCR exam board’s GCSE Computing can gain marks simply by copying or reworking an exemplar “controlled assessment” contained in the official OCR Computing for GCSE Student's Book  which was published by Hodder Education in partnership with OCR back in in 2012. It's available from Amazon and most bookshops and is widely used in schools.

Teachers have already noticed similarities in assessments submitted by some of their students as a result of them using the same source, but it is not clear whether they are technically in breach of regulations as they are using a freely available resource from OCR. But there are serious advantage issues that are certain to be investigated by both OCR and Ofqual.

Surprisingly, this is not OCR’s first problem in this area. Back in 2014 it upset teachers, students and parents when it was forced to withdraw the controlled assessments that students had already completed (see “OCR assessment shock hits GCSE Computing students”).

The current debacle, similar to the Department for Education's own with SATs, means that students who have access to OCR for Computing for GCSE  clearly have an unfair advantage over those who don't. They are asked to carry out one of three controlled assessments for their GCSE, and the solution along with clear explanations (page 197) for part of one of the assessments (page 196) are available in the text book (the whole assessment is worth 20 percent of marks, and this section affects part of that).

Weak students are likely to think the textbook is an official source while more advanced students will not want to copy, or may even be confused by thinking that no exam board could be stupid enough to provide a public answer to one of its own questions. Whichever way it's looked at there are problems and implications.

The oversight casts a question mark over the validity of the work of thousands of students, and any investigation will have to consider how OCR's team allowed this to pass through its assessment design process.

More information  
OCR Computing for GCSE Student's Book, by Sean O'Byrne and George Rouse, published by Hodder in its Dynamic Education Series, £19.95, ISBN: 9781444177794


Comments   

#3 Merlin John 2016-05-04 21:25
OCR are very welcome to comment. The article didn't need a comment as I actually saw everything that was mentioned and it was all corroborated. The page numbers in the book are included in the piece for anyone who wants to go and have a look and check for themselves.
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+1 #2 Alan O Donohoe 2016-05-04 17:24
Have OCR had an opportunity to comment on this before it was reported here?

Potentially this sounds very damaging, but having not seen the section of the book and how it relates to the task in question, I'd appreciate seeing a like-for-like comparison. This particular book hasn't been very popular among schools I've worked in, but that's only my impression.

Also, each of the CAs are worth 30% of the total grade, not 20% as mentioned above.
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+1 #1 Drew Buddie 2016-05-04 15:17
Hey Merlin, can you provide any information as to which particular task this was for? As there are 2 distinct Controlled Assessment units each of which has 3 possible board-set tasks.

I consider this to be a very serious matter. After all, as you correctly point out, the board in 2014 were going to declare entire schools' work VOID because solutions were available online. This goes much further and is a case where the exam board themselves have rendered a task void.

I need to know there is a level playing field for my students who have slogged their guts out over the past year to do each of the TWENTY HOUR Controlled Assessment tasks without any direct help from me (as dictated by the exam board).
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