Why I'm changing from AQA to OCR
Posted 04 March 2007 - 11:05 PM
For example, last year was the Liberal Reforms so this year it is supposed to be the Home Front in FWW and next year the Suffragettes. However, its a gamble and I prefer to hedge my bets. I've been burnt too many times in the past, but if you had a challenging class or were in a hurry then it would make sense to focus."
That is unfortunately not true! Looking back through past papers, my year 11s were sure they were going to get the Suffragettes last June as it 'was its turn' - but it was Civilians in WW1! Would you ever only teach one of three topics??
Head of History
Northfields International High School
Posted 11 March 2007 - 05:55 PM
Looking back over all the papers and the advice given I 'guessed' correctly last year about the liberal reforms and I'm pretty sure its going to be the Suffragettes this summer. I've taught all the topics properly as it was my first time around. I've got two low ability groups this year so I've lightly touched some subjects.
As for how things have gone overall to date, we have spent far too much time on the coursework element of the OCR Syllabus. I honestly think on reflection that it might have been better if we had designed our own coursework assignment on General Haig rather than run with OCR's version.
Our Year 11 are gearing up for the exam so I'll let everyone know how my big gamble played off in the summer. The test of course will be in the residuals!
Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:53 PM
Well the moment of truth is at hand! Will my experiment have paid off?
With this being our first time through we've had to overcome a few hitches, but I'm hopefully for the future. As my line manager keeps on saying its residuals that count not pass rates! Our current Year 11s are a weaker group than last years who did AQA so it should be very interesting. If we beat the 47% pass rate from last year and finally break through the 50% barrier then it will prove my point. I will also post my residuals as soon as I get them so that folks can compare OCR with AQA.
On the coursework front with OCR it has taken us far longer to complete assignment one on the source based questions first time around. However, we have flown through it with our year 10s. I suppose practice makes perfect. Assignment 1 was very straight forward.
Taking an educated guess, I'm expecting a question on votes for women to come up this year on Paper 2, but I've also prepared our students for the liberal reforms. As for Paper 1, we have thoroughly prepared our students for international relations 1919 - 1939. We have opted for option 'C', the USA for the second section. What we didn't appreciate is that you can further narrow down the content in the final section by opting for either the USA in the 1920s or 30s. This time around we have thoroughly taught both questions!
Anyway, if I've got it wrong this year I'll post an online apology to AQA. However, I am fully converted to OCR and in my opinion AQA need to get their act together because the current situation in GCSE history is unfair. The purpose of any exam system is to test what pupils know so that they can be judged against national standards, not to deliberately trip them up and phase questions in such away that their meaning is disguised. My students are passionate about history, they have worked hard, but they come from a social deprived background and many of them have low literacy levels. The style of OCR questions and mark schemes are accessible enough so that my students understand what they are being asked.
Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:05 PM
I thought that today's OCR Paper 1 - USA was very fair today, which is a first for me since AQA took over NEAB. I couldn't fault any of the questions which were transparent and accessible. We were all amazed at how much our students wrote. It certainly makes a difference being able to cut the amount of content down you have to teach in comparison to AQA. I would still continue to urge folks to actively consider changing from AQA to OCR Modern World.
Here is a sample of some of today’s questions:
Explain why the big three at Versailles had different aims (8)
What were the main aims of the League of Nations? (4)
Explain how the League achieved some successes in the 1920s (6)
How far can the failure of the League in the 1930s be blamed on the Great Depression? (10)
Describe the events in the Rhineland in 1936 (4)
Explain why Britain followed a policy of appeasement. (6)
How far was the Nazi Soviet Pact of 1939 responsible for causing war in Europe? (10)
Describe how the authorities tried to enforce prohibition (4)
Explain why Prohibition failed. (6)
How far was America fair and free during the ‘Roaring Twenties’? (10)
Describe the social effects of the Great Depression (4)
Explain why some people opposed Roosevelt’s New Deal (6)
How successful was the New Deal? (10)
These questions are linked directly to the content of the syallabus. There is no attempt to be clever or to trick people!
Well done OCR!
Posted 09 June 2007 - 12:04 PM
The cold war questions were:
What was the Iron Curtain (4)
Explain why the Soviet Union blockaded Berlin in 1948. (6)
'The Soviet Union was to blame for the Cold War.' How far do you agree with this statement? (10)
Describe the events in Hungary in 1956 (4)
Explain why there was opposition to soviet control in Czechoslovakia in 1968? (6)
'Gorbachev was to blame for teh collapse of Communism in Easter Europe.' How far do you agree with this statement? (10)
There was also a sourced based question on a cartoon on JFK and Khrushchev arm wrestingover the cuban missile question:
What is the message of this cartoon? (6)
Explain why Khrushchev sent missiles to Cuba in 1962. (6)
The students had to answer one of the source based questions on either the Treaty of Versailles or Cuba and only one of the above four questions on international relations. We have chosen to concentarte on international relations 1919 to 1939 but you could chose to concentrate on 1945 onwards ......
Posted 14 June 2007 - 06:33 PM
I thought today's OCR Paper 2 exam was brilliant! Guessed correctly at the Suffragettes / Suffragists. All the sources except two appear in our main stream text books and are well known! The questions were very fair and transparent, no attempts to trip up students! I kept on reminding my kids during the revision breakfast to CCCJ or at the very least PEE their answers! At the end of the exam everyone seemed to like the paper and the department was in high spirits!
Looking to next year, if OCR stick to the same pattern then it should be Liberal Reforms, but then again they might decide to opt for the Home Front and save the Liberal Reforms for the last year of the old GCSE!
Well everything is now in the lap of the Gods and the examiners! There is nothing left to do except wait for results day and start rewriting KS3!
Edited by rhuggins, 14 June 2007 - 07:10 PM.
Posted 14 June 2007 - 06:45 PM
My personal opinion is tht AQA have sorted themselves out, and I'm sticking with them.
Posted 14 June 2007 - 07:32 PM
In the short term it makes sense as the GCSE exams are about to change in 2009. If my results don't improve this year or next with OCR I will post a public apology online to AQA in this thread if it is still going.
There are still three issues: The level of content in the AQA MOdern World Syllabus, literacy levels in the questions and finally a crisis in confidence in AQA consistency and reliability. I've had my fingers burnt too many times over teh past 15 years as have lots of folks including yourself. One Swallow does not make a summer, lets see what next year has in store!
I would also like to point out that many of us have expressed our concerns to AQA both at exam board meetings and in writing over the years, which have been stubbornly ignored. We've been fobbed off with its QCA's fault or a failing on our part. When I've then riased the issues with QCA and HMI face to face in meetings they have told me the problem was AQA and suggested that I look at another exam board. They were right!
If AQA have finally taken onboard some of the criticisms that folks have riased then its a victory for common sense and market forces. However, I'm still left with a bitter taste after having sent 100s of students over the top into the 'No Mans Land' of AQA exams, only to mown down by inappropriately phrased questions that were designed to catch kids from disadvantaged backgrounds out. Many of them never made it past the barbed wire and just gave up on Paper 1 and never returned for the much better Paper 2. I must admit I feel a bit of a donkey for not having made the change sooner, but then again I wasn't HOD at the time.
At the end of the day you have to decide whats best for your students. I teach in a comprehensive in a deprived area with students whose literacy levels are only very slowly improving. All I ask for is a level playing field that gives my students a chance to show what they have learnt and I think I found it with OCR Modern World History. Then again, only time will tell!
Edited by rhuggins, 26 August 2007 - 01:42 PM.
Posted 15 June 2007 - 10:11 AM
Likewise. The close proximity to the new GCSE makes any change hardly worthwhile at the moment. I've certainly toyed with the idea of changing back to OCR over the past few years, but it's too late now. It'll be open season when the new specifications are announced.
AQA was very straightforward this year, and did what it said.
My personal opinion is tht AQA have sorted themselves out, and I'm sticking with them.
Posted 15 June 2007 - 10:34 AM
If you are in a similar position, facing a lot of pressure to improve results then I would seriously recommend switching or considering OCR!
Last year our results with AQA jumped from 27% pass rate to 47% with a negative residual of 0.3.
Why did our students perform better? Same teaching? Same resources?
Answer: nature of the exam and the inconsistency of the exam board.
I could quote other years to back this up. The point is our students deserve the best posible chance to achieve in order pursue their different career pathways. You only get one chance to take GCSEs and the lastthing you want is a rogue exam board erecting obstacles in your path.
I hope for everyone's sake that AQA sort themselves out. Its about time. However, there is still too much content and look at the mark schemes a level 2 at AQA = A Level 3 grade 'C' at OCR.
Ultimately, we are all up for a lot of change so it comes down the set of circumstances facing your department. Only you know what is the right thing thing to do for your students. I can't in all honestly afford to take any more risks with AQA at GCSE as they have a history of being unreliable, stubborn and unresponsive. How many of you have been let down over the years by AQA's lack of consistency?
Ultimately, I will only know if I'm right this summer. Watch this space!
Edited by rhuggins, 16 June 2007 - 12:22 PM.
Posted 15 June 2007 - 06:22 PM
We all know how passionately you feel about this, Roy. However, I would argue that you cannot necessarily make a snap judgement on OCR based on one set of examination results. I think you made a very pertinent point that the choice of examination board is heavily dependent on the nature of the students we teach. You are obviously convinced and that indicates that for your students you have made the correct decision. In other words, I am sure your professional judgement is spot on. Personally, I don't think it would make a great deal of difference at my school, but I still avidly await the opportunity to freshen up at GCSE with the new specifications.
Ultimately, I will only know if I'm right this summer. Wath this space!
Posted 17 June 2007 - 09:39 PM
Posted 17 June 2007 - 10:10 PM
Yes, September 2009. As for when we will see them, I'd expect we'll have a good idea early next summer, if not slightly before.
when will the new specifications be taught? - starting sept 2009 presumably? any idea when we will see them? thanks Sarah
Posted 01 July 2007 - 08:41 PM
If you are thinking about changing have a look at the discussions taking place in the OCR Modern World paper 2 discussion thread!
I'll be at the SHP conference all weekend this year if anyone fancies a chat, a pint or swapping ideas and resources.
Posted 23 August 2007 - 02:55 PM
Many thanks to all those folks who have been tracking this posting on why I've changed from AQA to OCR Modern World History.
I orginally began this journey after we had had a particularly bad year in 2005 when the pass rate dropped to 27% and our residuals were about -1.1. I had just taken over the department and was disgusted at the time with what I saw as the massive variation in standards of assessment and general competancy bewteen AQA and OCR. At that time the department had been with NEAB / AQA for 16 years.
2006 was our last year of following the AQA Modern World Syllabus. We achieved our best ever passrate with AQA of 47% and a negative FFT of -0.3.
So how did we do this year on the OCR Modern World Syllabus? As I explained above, our last cohort of Year 11 were not as accademically able statistically as last years so you cad imagine how I felt when my boss told me that my department's pass rate had jumped up to 57%! Yes thats a doubling of our pass rate in comparison to 2005.
So how about the residuals? Well just to be clever we worked out two sets of data. FFT type 'B' is a comparison to similar schools. My school always uses this one for all our Ofsted documentation. Our residual, which is a fair comparison with the intelligence of last years students, was a positive 0.2!
In other words my students have done a half a grade better with OCR in direct comparison with AQA last year. However, if you compare it with 2005 then my students have done 1.3 of a grade better this year, thats almost one and a half grades. If we put both figures together and average them out then we get (1.3 / 2) = 0.65. So OCR are 0.65 of a grade easier than AQA!
Now if we use FFT type 'D' and compare our exam results to the top 20% of schools then our residual comes out at a negative -0.06. In other words our students performed as well at GCSE as if they had gone to one of the top 20% of schools. I wonder if they also do OCR Modern World History? If you look at the exam board statistics then the majority of public schools do OCR Modern World History. I wonder if it has anything to do with parents wanting a good return on their money?
In conclusion, if you struggling with AQA for all the reasons I've listed above, then my advice is to change. I appreciate that GCSE change anyway in 2009 so you may not feel the effort is justified. However, I have more than doubled our pass rate and gone from a negative residual of -1.1 to a positive 0.2. Its been a long hard journey, but the effort of was worth it in the end and next year we will do even better now that we have mastered the OCR sysllabus. Watch this space!
Head of History
PS the data included in this years GCSE results was calculated from a full sample of 102 students which represent half the year group. The school pass rate was 46%. Its fair to say we teach in a challenging social and economic environment.
Edited by rhuggins, 25 August 2007 - 10:52 AM.
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