Saturday, 11 July 2009

New GCSE and Controlled Assessment –What is new?

I recently attended a course organised by AQA about their new GCSE in Spanish.
Although the course concentrated on the delivery and assessment of speaking, some useful references to Controlled Assessment, the replacement for coursework were made. (see AQA’s useful leaflet that is specific to MFL)

Some other points to note were:
• All the questions will be in English. All answers will be in English or it will be a multiple choice set-up. This has implications for target language use in the classroom and the teaching of dictionary skills as proof of understanding will rely on accurate translation most of the time.
• Context= broad topics, Purposes = subtopics
• May 7th will be the deadline for the final submission of Speaking and Writing controlled assessment marks. (writing to be marked by AQA)
• The controlled assessment can be on any topic area-it does not need to be on the specification.
• For the writing, the 2 tasks submitted need to be different task types.
• The same language cannot be used across the writing and speaking tasks
• For the Speaking: 2 tasks need to be completed but only one task needs to be submitted as evidence. The Speaking is marked by the teacher and it makes sense to submit the best mark out of the two.
• No need for speaking candidates to be invigilated and no extra preparation is needed on the day. Each task should last 6 minutes maximum.
• Students will have access to the task in the exam as well as the task-planning form (cue card with 40 words maximum, no conjugated verbs or complete sentences-can be written in the Target Language or English )
• Speaking tasks designed by each teacher have to be changed every two years (by at least one bullet point). AQA will provide new exemplars every two years.
• Controlled Assessment advisers should be in place in September 2009. They will be able to help with task-setting but not with marking. (No permission needs to be sought from AQA for designing own tasks but advice is available if needed)

The distinctions between the 3 stages were also discussed at length:
• Stage 1: Teaching the topic
• Stage 2: Give students the task they are going to do
• Stage 3: When students do the task (for speaking, when the recording takes place)
At stage 1: Some preparation can be done under the form of written homework (can be marked)
At stage 2:
• The task can be discussed in English: organisation/ type of content
• Reference can be made to the work done at stage 1 but the language cannot be given directly
• Maximum of 6 hours spent at Stage 2

For teacher-designed speaking task, the following needs to be considered:
• 4-6 minutes
• Do not go over time
• All bullet points need to be covered or full mark cannot be given.
• There can also be subdivisions within a bullet points to help the candidate develop their answers, but all the subdivisions do not need to be covered.
• The unprepared question should be accessible to all candidates-to understand and to answer (use cognates if possible)
• Important not to teach language that is beyond the candidate’s ability at stage1 or communication will suffer.
• The number of bullet is up to the teacher-examiner but AQA recommends a minimum of 3, the best being 4-5 bullet points plus an unprepared question.
• All teacher-designed tasks will have to be submitted to AQA (bullet points only)
• Students will also be able to make a one minute presentation (first bullet point) with 3-5 minutes of Questions and Answers afterwards.
• Audio files were presented as the easiest way to carry out the tests and store them, with possible use of digital recorders for added flexibility.
• If a student does not do well on a task, they can re-take it but it has to be a different task (at least one bullet point must be changed)
• The 2 tasks submitted cannot have any similar bullet points.

Ideas to investigate:
• Foreign Language Assistant to conduct tests-they just need to be trained to go through a series of questions. The test could be recorded by the FLA and marked by the teacher. This could be particularly suitable for a student who got full mark on his first task.
• Possibility in the future to re-do any units once and have January entries for Listening and Reading.
• Peer assessment is allowed at Stage 2.
• Plan possible pronunciation issues t stage 1 as no feedback can be given at stage 2.
• Introduce advantages/ disadvantages in unprepared questions for teacher-designed tasks in order to introduce more complex opinions.

• Communication (/10), Range and Accuracy (/10), Pronunciation and Intonation (/5), Interaction and Fluency (/5)
• Variety of tenses: 2 or more but present and present continuous are considered as 2 tenses
• Complexity: variety of structures such as different ways to express opinions
• Different tenses-3 or more tenses-required for A*-B
• If students get one mark for communication, they have to get something for range and accuracy
• Individual responses required from students.
• Focus is on fluency rather than initiative (interactions)
• Development (quantity) is opposed to Initiative (the ability to take own direction in the conversation)
• No extra marks for spontaneity
• Unpredictable questions can be re-phrased but you cannot ask another question.

Latest News from AQA-1st July 2009
Speaking and Writing -Stage 2
“If a candidate produces a draft, it must be produced under the teacher’s supervision”
More information about this will be available for Speaking meetings taking place in Autumn 2009 and in the writing materials for the Teacher Resource Bank also available on AQA website.
Writing-Stage 3
“The “writing up” of each controlled assessment task for writing should last no longer than the duration of a normal timetabled lesson i.e 45-60 minutes”

Register with AskAQA to be informed of the latest updates.
For an overview of all the specifications and the differences between them, see the very useful presentation put together by Helen Myers.

It is however worth noting that the differences will not be in the weighting between skills-30% Speaking 30% Writing 20% Listening 20% Reading as this was set by QCA.


José Picardo said...

Dear Isabelle,

Thanks very much for this comprehensive run down of your meeting with AQA.

We too do AQA for GCSE and it helps tremendously to read everything after it has been digested by a fellow teacher.

A mixture of being too busy and incompetence on my part has prevented me from attending these meetings, so this is just what I was looking for.

Many thanks


IC Jones said...

Dear Jose,

You're welcome! I feel that if we all share that kind of information, we are more likely to feel more comfortable as we start to teach the specification. It also helped me to sort out what I really needed to concentrate on...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this helpful information.