Schoolzone blog: GCSE science practical assessment reform

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10 Dec 2014

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Ofqual is consulting on the Assessment of Practical Work in GCSE Science until 4 Feb 2015. Here's a quick summary for the hard-pressed, but please see the full document too.

Ofqual are concerned to ensure that practical assessments are valid, reliable and manageable for schools and are therefore suggesting that the reformed GCSE sciences will address the issues thus:

  • At least 15% of the marks on written exams would be based on students’ practical science experience. The questions would be designed to give students with practical experience a real advantage over those without.
  • GCSE specifications would set out a minimum of eight practical activities (16 for combined science) they should do during the course using the specified apparatus and techniques.
  • Students would each keep a record of their practical work, to be made available to their exam board on request.
  • Schools would then confirm to their exam board that each student has completed the practical activities and so has used the required apparatus and developed the required techniques. This submission of the school record would be a pre-requisite ahead of exams.

When we asked teachers about practical assessments in our recent study, they seemed to consider this a sensible option, since it's fairer, less intrusive and yet still allows schools to give an apporpriate emphasis to practical skills. Teachers are often concerned that other schools give too much support on coursework or controlled assessment and that different awarding bodies ask for different skills to be assessed in different ways.




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