Marking rigour & IA assessment criteria.

How to apply the IA assessment criteria more rigorously?

This was one of the main recommendations of the 2016 Biology examiners report, that teachers were more often too generous than too severe and thus teachers should "apply the criteria more rigorously". 

The first sentence in the examiners report, and something worth remembering when completing IA work this year, was the following, "A very large range of inventive and original investigations were presented. This was a huge positive move and teachers should be congratulated."

The crucial idea which is covered on this page is how to improve the rigour of IA marking by choosing carefully between the two marks in a band.

It is important to remember that the descriptors in a mark band refer to the evidence required to award either the lower or the upper mark.  I found in my marking that I almost always awarded 4 marks in the 3-4 band (for example) if the work sounded like the 3-4 mark description. I learned that it was better to try to discriminate between the 3 and the 4 more carefully.  I think that this is really what this point, "apply the criteria more rigorously" in the examiners report refers to.

An example would be the communication criteria above.  I have separated the different aspects of the communication criterion as I find this easier to apply when marking.  When I first marked students' work I would mark a piece of work trying to decide the 4 marks box or the 2 marks box in each column, or possibly the 0 too.  I might have made the following observations about a piece of work.
I would put the red comments as annotations on the students work, not on the mark scheme.

But actually, although the work met these descriptions it could have been better work in places, and I should have also considered 3 marks as an option for each judgement.  If I had done this I might have decided something like the image below.

A problem that teachers might have to face is students who read the criteria and ask, "Why haven't I got 4 marks, I have done all the things mentioned in the grade 4 descriptor?"  A good answer might be, " Yes, you have done what is described in the rubric but that is the descriptor for 3 or 4 marks. To get 4 marks requires a little more than the bare minimum in the description."

Keep a look out for the new updates of these old IA exemplars in the Biology teacher support materials on the OCC

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