Summer Assessments 2021
In November 2020, the Education Minister announced that there would be no summer examination series for students taking GCSEs, AS levels or A levels in 2021.
In January 2021, it was confirmed that these qualifications would be awarded using Centre Determined Grades. This means that individual examination centres, such as schools and colleges, would determine the actual grades awarded for each qualification.
Centre Determined Grades
A Centre Determined Grade is the grade awarded by the school, as an examination centre, on the basis of attainment which has been demonstrated in the areas of the qualification content that a student has covered.
For each qualification, teachers will make use of WJEC Assessment Frameworks which include descriptors for key grades to support the accurate distribution of awards. Each grade awarded by the school must be underpinned by robust evidence to demonstrate a student’s attainment across key themes and skills. These will vary per qualification, as determined by the requirements of each WJEC Qualification Assessment Framework.
It will not be possible or permitted for teachers, or the school, to attempt to issue a Centre Determined Grade based on professional prediction or the potential of a student. Teachers will be required to apply their professional judgement and decide whether the knowledge and skills demonstrated meets the usual standard for a specified grade.
In determining grades, the school will be required to make ‘best-fit’ judgements. This means that students are not required to demonstrate all aspects of a grade descriptor to be awarded the grade; students should be awarded a grade which supports evidence of attainment across sufficient breadth of content, within the specified qualification, as determined by WJEC; and may achieve the same grades by demonstrating different combinations of knowledge, skills and understanding. This ensures that strengths in some areas counterbalance shortcomings in others. As a result, the ‘best-fit’ grade may be awarded.
Where there is insufficient evidence, or where evidence suggest attainment is below that required of the lowest grade for a qualification (ie. G grade at GCSE; E grade at AS/A level) then a student will be awarded a Centre Determined Grade of U.
While the standard expected for any particular grade will not be lowered in 2021, the use of Centre Determined Grades acknowledges that the volume of work completed by a student will be less than in previous years, owing to the ongoing impact of the global health crisis. Therefore, the use of Centre Determined Grades seeks to ensure students are not unfairly disadvantaged by the process. At the same time, they are designed to enable all students to progress to their next stage of learning and/or employment.
How Centre Determined Grades will be made at the school?
For each qualification, WJEC will provide subject staff with a Qualification Assessment Framework, which will set out the requirements to support the evidence to inform a Centre Determined Grade. These frameworks will provide a degree of flexibility to support the school’s local context. However, they will ensure there is a degree of consistency to maintain public confidence in the qualification system, and approach taken in Wales in 2021.
The Centre Determined Grade will be generated using evidence of work completed by a student, using the adapted specification content.
In determining a grade, the following types of evidence will be used in each qualification
Adapted past-paper questions
The school will make use of WJEC adapted past-papers when setting tasks to help determine a grade for each qualification. There are recognised benefits of using these materials. The adapted past-papers questions have already been externally quality assured; are fully supported by clear mark schemes; and are familiar to both students and staff. Teachers will ensure these past-papers, which will form a key part of the evidence, will be incorporated within their delivery of teaching and learning, in replacement of other activities undertaken in lessons.
Non-examination assessment exists in many qualifications. The weighting towards the overall grade is, in most cases, much lower than unseen elements. Where non-examination assessment remains part of an adapted qualification, teachers will use the performance of students in this element to help contribute towards the determination of a grade. However, teachers will need to consider the weighting of the element, in light of the qualification as a whole, to ensure that the grade awarded accurately reflects the overall standard.
Other contributing evidence
- Teachers may use evidence from previously completed WJEC past-paper questions, which have been externally quality assured, with a published mark scheme, and where they have been completed under controlled conditions; and
- Assessments undertaken prior to the publication of the centre approach eg. Mock Examinations (also known as ‘Pre-Public Examinations’) and/or other assessed work may only be used to help confirm a judgement. However, this evidence may not be used in isolation to determine grades since, at the time of completion, it is possible that students would not have been aware of the importance of these tasks. This is designed to ensure fairness and equity to all students.
The number of pieces of evidence required to determine a grade will vary per qualification. Teachers will ensure there is sufficient opportunity for students to provide clear evidence to demonstrate competency against the key themes and skills, as specified in each WJEC Qualification Assessment Framework.
The evidence generated will not be completed in the form of an examination. However, students will produce work within a specified timeframe, to reflect the volume of work.
Work will be completed independently by students, under similar ‘control levels’ to existing arrangements, which are supervised by teachers, for non-examination assessment. This is to ensure evidence produced is the student’s own. Wherever possible, this work will be completed in class in place of standard work, which is then assessed. Where external factors prevent this from happening, such as national lockdowns etc., then work will need to be completed at home. However, where this is the case, the school will introduce mechanisms to support authenticity of student’s work by ensuring the student’s camera is switched on during the live session; and work is immediately submitted at the end of the set timeframe. In addition, the school will consider work produced against previously assessed work to verify authenticity, where the evidence submitted is atypical of the usual standard by the student.
Subject Leaders will develop individual assessment plans for the qualifications they are responsible for, which will be shared and approved by the Executive Headteacher, as Head of Centre. These plans will identify which specific pieces of evidence will be used against adapted past paper questions, non-examination assessment and other contributing evidence; the quality assurance measures undertaken to authenticate the work of students; and measures to ensure any and all appropriate needs are met.
To ensure students understand how grades are determined and which work will be used as evidence, the school will publish a schedule that indicates when the production of evidence will take place. This also ensures the production of work is evenly distributed over the set timescale
The school will keep a record to document clearly the rationale for grade decisions. This will include clarity of explanation which students and their parents/guardians will understand.
Decision records will detail who assessed the evidence and when; the decision taken; identification of any reasonable adjustments or special considerations applied; and where the evidence is safely stored;
Records will also be kept from internal moderation to standardise work, and verify performance.
The school will record the reviews requested by students and the outcome of these, along with reasons for the decision.
On submission of a Centre Determined Grade, the school will be required to make an overall declaration in relation to the processes carried out.
Quality Assurance Processes
In line with usual practices, WJEC will require internal processes to be undertaken to promote consistency.
The school will undertake quality assurance processes, within subjects and across subjects, to ensure the
grades determined are valid, reliable, equitable and fair, while seeking to avoid discrimination. The school
will ensure training is provided and completed by all staff to support this
Public Sector Equality Duty and Data Protection
In developing an approach to centre determined grades in 2021, the school has taken steps to ensure it meets its Public Sector Equality Duty. This is a legal requirement and forms part of the Equality Act (2010), which ensures due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act (2010);
- Advance equality and opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and
- Foster good relations between people who share relevant protected characteristics and those who do not.
The evidence gathered by the school to support the determination of grades will make use of standardised materials, produced by WJEC. This includes the use of adapted past-paper questions, and mark schemes. These materials have already been through a robust process of equality impact assessment, as part of their own process of quality assurance, to ensure they meet the needs of the general equality duty. This approach, and individual subject assessment plans, ensure that arrangements for those students entitled to concessions are met. Moderation activities will ensure that a broad range of students, which include those from protected characteristics, are included. This is to enable the school to ensure that its approach contributes to the equality of opportunity.
The school will ensure it meets data protection and processing regulations. This may result in modifications to existing policies and practices. However, it is anticipated that joint examination regulators may coordinate this to provide assurances that data is handled appropriately and for the intended purpose.