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Preparing for the May 2021 results

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Next week, on Monday 5th July, the May 2021 IB Diploma results are being released to schools (students will receive their results the next day). As with many other areas of life, education has suffered much due to the Covid pandemic. The last 18 months have been tough for IB students graduating this year as most (all?) have faced severe disruption to their learning. It is worth being prepared for the various strategies available to you and your students if they do not achieve the results you (or they) expect. Your IB coordinator will be the person you will need to liaise with and who should have all the relevant information. Emma Mitchel. who is the co-author of the InThinking physics website and who is also the IB coordinator at Whitgift School in the UK, has provided the following summary to help you prepare. Many thanks to Emma.

If you did not do it last year, your department might like to ask your school to consider purchasing a Category 2A Return of Materials for the IA 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 department typically over-marks or under-marks within each criterion (e.g. Personal Engagement).

EUR Category 3 Remoderation is not available in chemistry as all work was sent off for marking due to the pandemic (i.e. sampling and moderating did not take place as would normally be the case). For those of you who also teach TOK it is worth noting that this option remains in place for the TOK presentation.

Exam route

For exam route schools, you're back to business-as-usual... except that all coursework has been externally marked and of course Paper 3 was cancelled. Predicted grades won't feature.

EUR Category 1 Remarks can be requested 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 this is likely to be in the student's best interest - by considering whether the IA and Paper 2 scores achieved were what you anticipated and by checking how close the total is to the boundaries.

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. All coursework has been externally marked.

This makes the post-results process a little more tricky to navigate (especially as it is new even to your IB 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 this is likely to be in the student's best interest - by considering whether the IA score achieved was what you anticipated and by checking how close the total is to the boundaries.
  • 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 could be the result of an 'IA uplift', where the IA results 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.

Hopefully all your students will gain the results they deserve and I wish you a a relaxing and safe summer vacation.



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