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is there anyone out there who thinks they're a good thing and have benefited language learning?
Personally, I'm in the 'I can't stand them' camp.
I am genuinely interested in different views.
Coursework and CAs are used to disguise the fact that most pupils would not fair well if they had to do the Writing element in an examination hall at the end of the course.
Writing is suppose to be the hardest skill, yet many pupils gain their highest grade from CAs in Writing (previously with W coursework) as it can be perfected by the teacher and memorised by the pupil.
The purpose, with many subjects, is no longer about helping pupils to reach their potential but about getting pupils grades that they do not deserve.
I should have said that I don't like CAs for the reasons you put so well Jubilee....and probably more. We look like we're stuck with them at least for now so I do wonder if there are teachers out there who feel that the lead up to a CA has helped in language learning. If so how?
sam enerveBefore CA was invented my department always did the writing exam. Writing marks were excellent and we regularly had students with 90 ums in the writing exam.
When schools/departments chose the exam route for Writing, it resulted in the pupils being properly taught so that they could deal with an unknown task and produce coherent text.
Schools that had a 6th Form were well-advised to follow the examination route as it prepared pupilks better for AS/A2.
Most schools without a 6th Form chose Coursework as getting a Grade C for pupils who struggled to write English coherently was the all that mattered.
I would add that when there was a possibility of coursework writing or a terminal exam, over 80% of schools chose coursework for obvious reasons, particularly for students who were not continuing to advanced level. We once did a control group with similar ability students and those doing coursework were 1 and a half grades better at the end.
gsgloverWe once did a control group with similar ability students and those doing coursework were 1 and a half grades better at the end.
Was that based on teaching the two groups in the same way or were the examination group taught a more structured understanding of the language to enable them to produce their own sentences?
SpanishoneI was wondering if anyone would contemplate changing to the new Edexcel Certificate. It has no coursework and has a listening exam, reading/writing exam and one speaking exam. Everything is marked by the exam board. It is now accredited and counts towards the Ebacc and in league tables.
Sounds like a step in the right direction!
I know I run the risk of making many enemies here but I have to say that I do not see what all the fuss about controlled assessment is about...is it really any worse than coursework? Yes we know that in many schools pupils just reproduce memorised work but at least they are doing something and having to put some effort into this. Can the same be said of coursework? I would argue not.
I personally feel that my teaching has become far more rigorous now than under the old system because I want my pupils to be able to produce work in the spirt of the exam. Yes it's hard work, yes it's tiring. Can it be done successfully? I honestly think it can.
As for the argument about returning to the written exam - does that truly prepare students for the future? When will they ever have to write anything completely randomly once they are out there in the real world? And then of course we are assuming that all pupils perform to their best in a formal exam situation. This, I feel, would disadvantage a sigificant number of my pupils. But then maybe mine are unique.
Maybe the compromise would be to have controlled assessments for those that want it, and a written exam for those that want that.
I apologise if I have offended anyone with my comments here - that wasn't my intention. Whatever our thoughts I know that each and every one of you does a fantastic job and the support and advice offered by you all is very much valued.
They were both taught in the same way by me except that the was a lot of practice done of past writing papers by the exam group
I'm in favour of exams, but I can see how doing lots of past papers can be quite mechanical. When course work was first introduced it was supposed to give greater scope for creativity and individuality, therefore leading to better motivation.
My pupils' predicted grades are lowest in writing compared to their other skills, and I don't think I've taught them worse than in the good old days of exams. I've taught them lots of grammar in order to improve their ability to check their CAs. I do resent missing out on 2 weeks of teaching time whenever they do a CA though.
Monkey BoyAs for the argument about returning to the written exam - does that truly prepare students for the future? When will they ever have to write anything completely randomly once they are out there in the real world?
Being able to compose your own language in a writing exam, where you have no advance knowledge of the topics you will be asked to write about, indicates that you will also be able to respond independently and unrehearsed to spoken stimuli too.
Learning chunks of text that have been fed to you as sentences compiled by your teacher, or that have been lifted from other sources, does nothing to prepare you for future deployment of the MFL in question.
Yes I'm going to look at the new Edexcel certificate. I seem to remember that a similar equivalent for AQA was getting a fair amount of interest on here too not so long ago.
I think that CAs are a good idea, but the rules are rubbish. In Germany, we have a system of "CAs" throughout all years in all main subjects ((M)FL, German, Maths, Physics, Chemistry...) and for all subjects in Ys 11 and 12. Children have to be told at least one week in advance and they know that it's about the topic(s) they have been doing until the exam, but the teacher is allowed to exclude topics/grammar points which haven't been practiced enough (we have to make the exams for ourselves). There are two to four CAs per year, depending on the time allocated to the subject and the year (Ys 11 and 12 have only one CA per term). In MFL, most CAs test two to three skills (it's not always possible to include listening and reading comprehension), and in the lower years there's always a grammar part (my Y7s had simple past-present perfect and modal verbs in their last CA). There are also speaking CAs (one per year, starting in Y7, 8 or 9, depending on the school).
The difference to England is that pupils do know what the task will be about, but they don't know the task. They start training how to cope with unknown tasks in primary school, and by the time they start secondary school (Y5), they are absolutely fine with it. Teachers are responsible for the tasks, but they can't write the answers for children, because everybody would notice :D. All CAs count towards their final grade. All grades from Ys 11 and 12 count towards their A-Level grades. If pupils get a bad mark in one CA, that's usually not that harsh because if they do better in the other ones, they can improve their grade. And class participation counts 50% in Ys 11 and 12 and at least 25% in lower years.
Does Germany have the same target-driven culture as the UK in education ? Do teachers get the blame if a pupil can't / won't get a good grade? My Spanish friend can't believe we put up with this! If they really want honesty and trust in the CAs I think there needs to be a culture shift. There is too much at stake at the moment (pay progression, stress).
redpens Yes I'm going to look at the new Edexcel certificate. I seem to remember that a similar equivalent for AQA was getting a fair amount of interest on here too not so long ago.
AQA have had to re-submit their igcse spec (=certificate) because it included a coursework option and they must be 100% exam. Pity, it was a very good assessment, I hope they sort it soon.
conjugatorDoes Germany have the same target-driven culture as the UK in education ? Do teachers get the blame if a pupil can't / won't get a good grade?
Does Germany have the same target-driven culture as the UK in education ? Do teachers get the blame if a pupil can't / won't get a good grade?
The answer is that we are starting to get the blame. Up to now, it was always the pupils who were blamed for their bad grades, now parents blame the teacher. But fortunately, headmasters don't. Yet.
Well that's lucky for you, and I hope they don't. I fear that you may not be quite so keen about CAs once they start using the grades to calculate how much value you have added or how many targets you have met / missed !
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