Pearson's response to Ofqual's decisions on the GCSE computer science assessments

Mon Jan 08 23:16:00 UTC 2018

Ofqual has today announced the outcome of its consultation about the non-exam assessment (NEA) in GCSE (9-1) Computer Science. It has decided that, on the balance of the evidence it received from stakeholders in response to the consultation, the NEA should no longer count toward the qualification grade.

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Pearson supports the removal of the NEA from the qualification grade as it ensures that the integrity of the assessment of the qualification is protected. This decision is despite the best efforts of exam boards in agreeing controls which mitigate against the potential for malpractice. The decision is also in spite of the efforts of the vast majority of centres to work conscientiously to follow the strict guidelines which the exam boards have set.

We regret that this action was necessary given the hard work of the majority of centres and their candidates, and we know that it could be disruptive and cause concern. Pearson are committed to giving you the guidance you need to continue with the NEA with confidence. We will be releasing revised guidelines for the delivery of the NEA in the next week.

The high-level implications of the decision to no longer count the NEA in the calculation of the qualification grade are as follows:

  • NEA no longer counts to the qualification grade and is not reported separately (no endorsement grade)
  • Centres must ensure candidates continue to spend 20 hours on the task in the classroom
  • Work should be the candidate’s own
  • The Head of Centre must sign a declaration to state that candidates have been given 20 hours to complete the assessment
  • NEA marks do not need to be submitted to Pearson
  • Centres will be required to send candidates’ work to Pearson so that we can check that the requirements for the task have been met. The deadline to submit candidate work to Pearson is 15th May 2018.

We have produced a set of FAQs below.

JCQ has released a statement regarding the consultation.

Should you have an queries about this, please do not hesitate to contact us at eportfolio@pearson.com.

Ofqual has published its decision and the reason for it. You can also find an analysis of the responses given during the consultation. In addition, Ofqual has produced a letter to students. In short, the majority of respondents stated that there are shortcomings with the current arrangements for NEA and, on the balance of evidence, Ofqual was forced to decide that the NEA should continue as it is so valuable for candidates, but it will not contribute to the qualification grade.

We know that this is a difficult time for centres and this decision may have come as a surprise. In order to support you, we are committed to updating our guidance within a week to ensure that there is a minimum of disruption.

  • The component will no longer contribute to the qualification grade and will not be reported as a separate endorsement. The qualification grade will be calculated from the examined assessments only and the NEA will not be reported as a pass/fail, for example
  • The task should remain secure, as it is now
  • Candidates should continue to spend 20 hours of supervised classroom time on the task
  • All accounts should remain locked and candidates should not take their work
    outside of the supervised environment
  • Work should be the candidate’s own
  • As the assessment will no longer count toward the qualification grade, marks do not need to be submitted to Pearson
  • The deadline for submission of the work will now be 15 May, and not 31 March as previously published.

The practical activity remains an important part of GCSE Computer Science and centres should continue to allow candidates to spend 20 hours on the NEA in a supervised classroom environment. Practical programming skills are very important for candidates’ progression to further study and/or employment. Centres are required to ensure that candidates spend 20 hours on the task and exam boards will be checking adherence to this.

Yes, centres will be required to send candidates’ work to Pearson so that we can check that the requirements given above have been met. Revised arrangements for the checking of candidate work will be issued as soon as possible.

Yes, the head of centre must sign a declaration form to state that candidates have been given the opportunity to spend 20 hours on the task and that the work is the candidates’ own. The existing form in the specification can be used for this purpose.

Centre visits are part of the monitoring process for the June 2018 exam session. Centres that have been selected for a visit will be contacted to inform them of this. All centres, including those that have been selected for a monitoring visit, must still send candidate work to Pearson by 15 May. More details will follow about the arrangements for checking candidate work.

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