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Results Day - 6th July in the Northern Hemisphere

Monday 5 July 2021

Results Day is around the corner on 6th July for schools in the Northern Hemisphere. The IB has published a series of information pages about the moderation and marking process, explaining how they endeavoured to achieve some kind or parity between the exam route and the non-exam route. For the November session the same procedure is likely to be used and the results will be issued on 2 January 2022.

"We are proud of our students for overcoming extremely difficult circumstances and the teachers that were with them every step of the way."   

IB Global news 2nd July 2021

There is a lot of information on the IB website Understanding assessment during COVID-19.  Six short videos outline IB procedures and there are links to more detailed information in between.  The videos may be useful for communication with parents and students, and DP Coordinators will have studied the detail.

The IB has also published a nice discussion between principal examiners talking about moderating a piece of work. It might help teachers to understand how to use the assessment criteria, differences between Biology and other experimental sciences and some points about organisation of the IA in lessons.

This blog post helps to outline the main points for a DP Biology teacher to consider, once the exam results are known.

IA Moderation or Marking?

As in May and November 2020, every piece of IA 'Investigation' has been marked by an IB examiner.  The teacher marking sheets and comments were used in the assessment but IA marks for each individual student may have been changed. Unlike moderation, there is no correction applied to the whole class for this session, so some students may have their marks raised and others lowered.

Departments might like to consider purchasing an EUR Category 2, Provision of images of marked IA work, to find out the breakdown of marks for all candidates (which might support professional development and teaching for future cohorts). While examiner comments are limited, it can be useful to find out if your school typically over-marks or under-marks within each criterion (e.g. Personal Engagement).

Enquiry upon results (EUR) Category 3 Re-moderation is not available in Biology for this session, as no sample of IA work was taken and moderated. EUR Category 1 Remarks can be requested, see below.

Exam route

For exam route schools, it's back to business-as-usual ... except that all the IA work has been externally marked and there was no Paper 3. Predicted grades won't feature.

EUR Category 1 Remarks can be requested if the student consents. Students and parents need to be aware that grades can go up, down or stay the same. As the student's teacher you will have a key role to play in deciding whether this is likely to be in the student's best interest - by considering whether the IA and Paper 2 scores the student achieved were marks that you anticipated and by checking how close the total mark is to a grade boundary.

In the Exam route the total of all the marked components needs to be used to decide about the risks or benefits of requesting a remark.  The grade boundary can be estimated using the totals of the component grade boundaries which will be seen on the subject component results sheets. Adding the minimum marks for grade 3 in the example below (14 + 17 + 7) gives 38 marks total. Adding the maximum marks of this grade gives 49 marks, showing the range of grade 3 as 38 to 49 moderated marks. Grade 4 would need 50 marks.

See this example of a teacher deciding whether a remark is a good idea, using the subject component grades for two fictional students. (Click to enlarge)

Carl has a total mark of 45 which is five marks below the grade five boundary. It would be unusual for a remark to add, or remove, more than a few marks. So although it unlikely that Carl's mark would increase after a remark, it is also unlikely that it will go down.

In the case of Henri, he has a total of 84 giving Grade 5, but the minimum mark for grade 6 is 86. It would be possible for a remark to increase Henri's grade by two marks, so this might be a good idea.

Non-exam route

Exams did not take place in a large number of schools. In these 'non-exam route' schools, a predicted grade took the place of examination components and this was given an 80% weighting in the final grade. A statement released by the IB in April also reassured students in the non-exam route that the mark awarded for a grade would be the highest mark within that grade. 

All coursework has been externally marked and so grades might change if the IA mark is very different from the school assessed grade. This makes the post-results process a little more tricky to navigate (especially as it is new even to your Coordinator):

EUR Category 1 Remarks can be requested for the IA if the student consents (they need to be aware that grades can go up, down or stay the same).

As the student's teacher you will have a key role to play in deciding whether a remark is likely to be in the student's best interest:

  • consider whether the IA score achieved was what you anticipated for the IA
  • check how close the IA mark is to the boundaries and
  • note whether the IA grade is above or below the predicted grade.

If a student achieved a higher overall grade than the predicted grade this could be because the IA result has given the student two or more marks above the predicted grade level.

Examples:

In this example Henri was awarded grade 6, predicted grade 6 and achieved grade 7 in the IA with 20 marks. This is 1 mark above grade 6, so why wasn't he awarded grade 7? It's possible that the reason is because each IA mark is scaled to be worth 0.8 scaled marks (20/24) so If Henri had been predicted grade 6 by the school, one mark above grade 6 in the IA will not take the total mark quite high enough to increase the total by 1 mark to grade 7.  However if the IA mark was 21, this would increase a grade 6 prediction by 1.6 scaled marks into the grade 7 grade.  In this case it may be worth considering a remark, especially if the teacher had marked the IA as worth 21 or 22 marks before uploading it.

Carl has achieved Grade 4 with 13 marks and the grade boundaries for grade 5 were 14 to 16.
If Carl was predicted Grade 4, his IA would support this grade. The mark would have to increase by 2 marks to increase the overall grade.  If the teacher had marked the IA as 15 marks, it might be a good idea to request a remark. If the teacher marked the IA as 14 marks, or lower, then a remark would be very unlikely to change the IA grade.

  • If the predicted grade appears to be less than your proposal, check with your Coordinator in case an administrative error may have occurred. These can be corrected free-of-charge via the Coordinator and IB Support.
  • Increased predicted grades across the whole school could be the result of an 'IA uplift', where the overall IA results of the class have indicated to the IB that your cohort is better than usual.
  • A Student-initiated Predicted Grade Enquiry (SiPGE) can be launched by students on the basis that the teacher judgement could not reasonably have been formed from the evidence used or because the department/school more broadly did not follow correct procedures (e.g. using slightly different evidence if the student experienced adverse circumstances at the time the work was completed). Whether or not the school agrees with the enquiry, a written statement, a mark book and three pieces of evidence (not including the IA) should be sent to the IB for their consideration.

This last option for students sounds quite alarming at first glance - what if every student wants to simply 'have a go' at increasing all six of their subject predictions? However, the burden on the student to overturn the teacher (and Coordinator)'s decision is enormously high. Even in the unlikely event that extra pieces of timed, supervised or authenticated evidence (from near the end of the course) come to light that you did not consider, the student would still need to demonstrate that you could not reasonably have come to the grade that you did. How to prepare? Talk to your Coordinator and perhaps suggest that they collate evidence from internal exams (etc) now rather than during the summer vacation.

The potentially more concerning aspect of this IB policy is that it fails to acknowledge that some schools may not have challenged (or been unsuccessful in challenging) the initial distribution through the exceptions process and so there may be some predicted grades that were always destined to be too low for the individual candidates. There is also, once more, a great weight placed on the IA (which could have been quite different in quality to a student's exams) in checking (from the IB perspective) whether predicted grades were likely to be accurate.



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