Update on Ofqual's review of A level Modern Foreign Language (MFL) qualifications

Thu Apr 16 15:34:00 UTC 2015

Read about the latest developments following the comparability meetings held in February 2015 with all senior examiners for A level French, German and Spanish.

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This is an update to our notice in February 2015 about Ofqual's technical report on the quality of A level MFL qualifications in the main languages, French, German and Spanish. You can read about the report on the Ofqual website.

Recommendation 7

The Ofqual report recommends a change in the marking of the translation question at A2. Although the item level mark distribution graphs (figures 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3) show a consistent and fairly differentiated level of marking that 'discriminates well', the report suggests that the scaling approach is, 'unsatisfactory as it inevitably results in the loss of information'.

Therefore, an investigation was carried out to determine an alternative marking approach for the translation questions that could be implemented for the summer 2015 series.

The approach proposed to senior examiners, and agreed at the comparability meetings, will now involve the application of a marking descriptor to allocate a total of 10 marks to ensure that final marks reflect parity with the original raw mark.

The mark scheme will allow for the question response to be divided into five sense units. Each sense unit is worth 2 marks, which will be awarded according to the quality and accuracy of the translation into the target language. In assessing the candidate’s performance, one of the following descriptors will be applied to each of the relevant sense units:

Category

Mark

Description

Good

2

Essential information and relevant details are conveyed clearly and accurately. Simple grammatical elements and lexis are well translated. Complex grammatical elements and lexis including word order are generally accurate.

Satisfactory

1

Essential information is conveyed comprehensibly with some weaknesses in the use of language. Simple grammatical elements and lexis are generally acceptable. Complex grammatical elements and lexis are attempted with limited success.

Unsatisfactory

0

Essential information is not conveyed due to errors in basic grammatical elements and lexis. Complex grammatical elements and lexis are unsuccessful.

Amendments have now been made to the 2015 mark schemes for Unit 4 (A2) for French, German and Spanish to include the revised marking approach for the translation questions, as above.

Recommendation 10/14

1. A2 - Question 2 (Creative/Discursive Essay)

The Ofqual report recommends clearer instructions to examiners in the interpretation of the marking criteria in Q2 (Creative/Discursive Essay).

Following a review of the marking criteria at the comparability meetings, a broader interpretation was agreed by all Senior Examiners relating to the following mark bands, and as noted in Expert Findings 6a:

  • Range and application of language
  • Understanding and response
  • Organisation and development

This agreement will be taken forward at standardisation to ensure that a more discriminative application of the marking criteria is applied for the summer 2015 series.

In addition, the mark schemes for Unit 4 (A2) French, German and Spanish were amended to include a suggested response as indicative content for the creative/discursive essay questions.

2. A2 - Question 3 (Research-Based Essay)

The Ofqual report identifies that the marking of Q3 (Research-based essay) is consistent with the standard. However, the reports recommends clearer instructions to examiners in the interpretation of the marking criteria for Q3 (Research-based essay).

A similar review of the marking criteria and annotations was undertaken for the research-based essay at the comparability meeting and a broader interpretation was agreed by all senior examiners relating to the following mark bands, and as noted in Expert Findings 3d:

  • Reading, research and understanding
  • Organisation and development

This agreement will be taken forward at standardisation to ensure that a more discriminative application of the marking criteria is applied for the summer 2015 series.

The 2015 mark schemes for Unit 4 (A2) French, German and Spanish have been amended to include a suggested response as indicative content for the research-based essay questions, as noted in the Expert Findings 3c.

3. AS - Question 8 (essay writing)

The findings relating to Unit 2 (AS) essay writing (Q8) recommend a similar process of clearer instructions to examiners in the interpretation of the marking criteria.

A similar review of the marking criteria and annotations was undertaken at the AS writing comparability meeting and a broader interpretation was agreed by all senior examiners relating to the ‘Content and Response’ criteria.

In addition, the marking guidance relating to mis-spellings and word count has been amended and will be published for centres before the summer 2015 series in the course materials for each subject.

The update to the marking criteria and marking guidance will be taken forward at standardisation to ensure that a more discriminative application of the marking criteria is applied for the summer 2015 series. In addition, this addresses the recommendation in the Expert Findings (2a).

The mark schemes for AS writing for French, German and Spanish for 2015 have been amended to include a suggested response as indicative content for the essay questions.

Recommendation 11

The Ofqual technical report recommends a similar process of clearer instructions to examiners in the interpretation of the marking criteria at AS (Unit 1) and A2 (Unit 3) for the assessment for the oral tests, in order to aid the valid discrimination between candidates of different abilities.

In addition, the report recognises the challenges of 'standardising and monitoring' a large number of examiners, 'using a mark scheme that involves a level of subjectivity'. This matter has been addressed for the summer 2015 series by creating two dedicated teams of examiners for AS and A2 marking. The marking teams will work separately from either AS and A2 to ensure a more concentrated approach to the application of a specific marking criteria throughout the marking period.

The marking criteria and the marking guidance were reviewed at the comparability meetings and a broader interpretation was agreed by all senior examiners for the application of all the mark bands at AS and A2.

This agreement will be taken forward at standardisation to ensure that a more discriminative application of the marking criteria is applied for the summer 2015 series. The updates to the marking guidance for AS and A2 will be published on our website in the course materials for each subject. 

In addition, mark schemes for Unit 1 (AS) French, German and Spanish have been devised and will be implemented for summer 2015 to include a suggested response as indicative content for Q3 and Q4 of the stimulus materials. This is to address the Expert Findings recommendation (3a).

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