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Detail of outcome
The responses to the consultation have confirmed our view that, regrettably, the current situation is untenable and must be addressed to make sure the qualification is fair for all students and to preserve the credibility of the qualification itself. The responses have not persuaded us there is a better model to that we proposed in the consultation. We have therefore decided to implement the approach we proposed with immediate effect. We set out in the attached decision document how the responses to the consultation have informed our decision and the alternative options we first considered.
Detail of feedback received
We received 2,556 responses to our consultation. 353 of these were from organisations and 2,203 were personal responses. We thank everyone who responded.
We have seen evidence that the exam boards’ rules for non-exam assessment in GCSE computer science are being broken.
Students who will take their exams in the subject next summer were able to start their non-exam assessment from 1 September 2017. Shortly after that date we became aware that, contrary to the exam boards’ rules, the tasks and solutions to them were being discussed in on-line forums.
Our concerns have been heightened because of the degree of malpractice that was found among students who took GCSE computing in summer 2017.
We are also conscious of wider concerns about the burden being placed on teachers by the non-exam assessment, and how the nature of the non-exam assessment may be leading to an approach to problem solving that does not reflect real-world programming practices.
The proposals in this consultation, on which we are seeking views, are intended to address these concerns in the short term by:
- making non-exam assessment no longer count towards a student’s 9 to 1 grade in GCSE computer science; their grade would instead be based on their performance in their exams alone
- continuing to require all students to complete one of the non-exam assessment tasks set by the exam boards to meet the curriculum requirements of the course
- no longer requiring teachers to formally mark the task, or provide marks for the task to the exam board. But they would be able to use the task – a significant piece of work - to provide formative feedback to students, strengthening their knowledge, skills and understanding, and better preparing them for their exams
- requiring exam boards to:
- collect statements from schools and colleges confirming that students have been given reasonable opportunities to complete the programming task and that 20 hours has been set aside for this. This would ensure students covered all of the subject content. The statement would build on existing exam board processes for authenticating students’ work.
- continue monitoring of schools and colleges – through visits and scrutiny of students’ work – but with a focus on ensuring that sufficient time is being dedicated to the programming task.