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Controlled assessment in England represents a challenge to Virtual Schools

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Controlled assessment replaced coursework in most GCSE subjects in September 2009, and last year for English and ICT. The intention was to improve public confidence in the rigour of GCSEs.  Instead of developing coursework at home, students must now work under supervision. While we might applaud the attempt to curb teachers spoon-feeding to pupils with little learning taking place, the effect on virtual schooling has been challenging, to say the least. 


The demand on students to attend school or college for a number of supervised days is clearly difficult for those who are unable to leave home or hospital. Sheffield’s Online College has found that the alternative of an exam supervisor visiting individual students is prohibitively expensive, particularly if the student lives abroad. Skype with video has been suggested as another alternative, but since institutions have to make sure all aids such as spellcheck, grammar check etc are switched off and that they are not copying anything, this would be impossible to supervise.


Re student numbers, we don't know yet because we are only just opening up the applications today.


Oxford Open Learning have switched their GCSE English to IGCSE (‘I’ = ’International’) which is exam-only, claiming that controlled assessment “is not practical for adult learners studying independently on home study courses.”


Any other strategies for how Virtual schools and colleges might deal with controlled assessment?  Please share!

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