Assessment markbands

One of the most common questions for new teachers is how to actually grade the work that students do. Especially in the beginning of the course, how do you assign marks when they cannot do a whole Paper 1? How does one convert a score of 17/20 into an IB grade? And what about the EE?

The information below is some guidance on how to assess students in a way that is meaningful with regard to the final assessments at the end of the course. Of course, you may have to adapt this to your own school's system. Many IB schools have moved to a 1 - 7 grading system. If you are working in an A - F grading system or a percentage based system, recommendations for conversions are discussed below.

Emarking notation

If you receive your exams back after an exam session, you will see symbols stamped on the exam pages.  I tend to use these when marking students work as well.  Here is a quick guide to the most commonly used stamps on the exam.

Paper 1

All three of the external papers are marked in the same way. Each exam session the markbands are adjusted.  If you read through the subject reports that are available on the OCC, you will see that each session may have a slight change of the markbands.  Why does this happen?

This happens for two reasons.  First, it is a way in which the percentages of the different marks is held relatively constant.  In this way, the level of difficulty of the exam is held constant from year to year.  Secondly, this helps to compensate in the case that examiners are too harsh with their marking.  Grade award is a process where the quality of the work of students in different markbands is considered to see if it meets the descriptors for each assessment level.

Although the markbands may change slightly, I use the following markbands to assess my own students.

Paper 1, however, presents the problem that it is not possible to give these marks until they have completed the core.  So, a few suggestions.

1.  Give a unit exam with three SAQs and one essay all from the same level of analysis.  This will allow you to use the full range of marks.

2. Only assign an essay, but then mark it using the Paper 2 SL rubric.

3.  Only assign an SAQ, but then mark it using a simple conversion of [Score - 1] where scores of both 1 and 2 out of 8 marks would receive a 1.

4.  If you have limited class time and cannot give a full paper 1, you may consider giving it over two class periods.  Or, if you are giving only the SAQs, you may want to use the following conversion:

Paper 2

Paper 2 is different for HL and SL.  However, if you are like me, often I give my HL students only a single essay to write in class, rather than assessing both the option we are studying and the one that we have finished.

Here are the markbands for SL Paper 2.

As I wrote above, you may also choose to use this for a Paper 1 essay if you are not giving the entire paper.

Here are the HL markbands.

Paper 3

Paper 3 is only for HL candidates.  Here are the markbands.

Internal Assessment

The internal assessment markbands are different from Paper 1 - 3 markbands in that they are constant - that is, they do not change from session to session. Here are the markbands for HL candidates.

Here are the markbands for SL candidates.

Extended Essay

The extended essay is a bit different in that you only have to predict a grade of A - E.   It is not marked on a 1 - 7 scale as are the other assessments.  The EE markbands are also fixed and are the same for all subject areas. 

Alternative marking systems

Before our school converted to a 1 - 7 marking system, converting IB scores was difficult.  For those of you who are working in an A - F system, this is the system that our school used to use.

If you are working with percentages, then it is a bit more tricky.  What we used to do is look at the markbands for whichever paper we were assessing. For example, if you look at paper 1, if a student earned a 5, we would assess them as either having a High 5 (H5), Mid 5 (M5) or a Low 5 (L5).  The percentages awarded stayed constant as follows:

So, in the case of Paper 1, this would mean that 19 - 20 is a L5; 21 - 22 is a M5; 23 - 24 is a H5.  Ultimately, it is up to you how to convert these marks.  I would advise that it is best if the school comes up with a common policy so that assessment policies are clear to students and consistently applied.

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