Exam answer in Computing textbook heralds more problems for OCR
Students 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.
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