OCR: Stop coursework counting towards grades


A major examination board has called for an end to the practice of coursework marks counting towards final GCSE grades.

Instead, OCR is suggesting an approach that sees coursework “locked in” to the syllabus, but with all testing taking place in traditional examinations.

Exams watchdog Ofqual is proposing to remove controlled assessment or coursework from a number of subjects, with the exception of science practicals.

However, a statement from OCR has called even for science practicals not to count towards final grades. It said: “It is time to end the practice of coursework marks contributing to final results at GCSE.”

OCR chief executive Mark Dawe is backing proposals outlined in a report from Tim Oates, director of assessment, research and development at Cambridge Assessment (OCR’s parent organisation). Mr Oates said: “A statistical review of coursework shows problems in the marking of coursework – which is carried out internally, with a tendency towards bunched marks (poor differentiation of candidates), and upward-tilted marking in comparison to examination results (potential leniency).”

His paper, Radical Solutions in Demanding Times, has recommended an approach with three core elements: assessment in the examination of knowledge linked to coursework; assurance of practical/coursework activity by the exam board, and assurance of activities by Ofsted. Under the idea, things like science practicals, geography fieldwork, and creative activities in the arts would continue at GCSE as part of syllabus but would not be marked. Instead, knowledge gained through these activities would be “assessed as part of the final exams”.



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