Anger at art GCSE marking

28th September 2001 at 01:00
The case of a student who got 100 per cent, but not an A*, has fuelled doubts over the assessment regime. Julie Henry reports

A STUDENT who got 100 per cent in GCSE art has not been awarded the top grade; other schools have been "devastated" to see their art results plummet.

Changes to the assessment of art this year have led teachers to claim Picasso himself would fail the current GCSE (TES, March 29).

Many predict the emphasis on proof and documentation rather than finished works will lead to good artists being penalised.

In some schools, teachers' assessments of their students performance were marked down by moderators. At Fulham Cross school in west London, student Boshra Abdulamir was awarded the full marks in the exam and coursework - confirmed by a moderator - but got an A rather than an A*. She is appealing against the grade.

Art teacher Malcolm Kerr said the number of A* to C results had dropped by about a third from the previous year. His experience was mirrored in Tomlinscote school, Camberley, Surrey. Head of art Elizabeth Nuttall said the A* to C proportion had fallen from a five-year average of 95 per cent to 63 per cent, making art the worst-performing department in the school.

"I was devastated when I received the results. What is most disturbing is the difference between the moderator's mark and those which appeared on the board's results sheets. How is it possible for a mark to change between leaving the moderator and reaching the spreadsheets?"

Exam boards have to allocate marks according to a Qualifications and Curriculum Authority code of practice. A spokeswoman for Edexcel said:

"Moderators select a sample of coursework at a school, including top and bottom candidates. Where they find marking by a teacher has not been consistent (with other markers), the marks of the whole cohort are adjusted, either up or down."

The national number of A* awards in art this year fell 0.3 per cent on the previous year. Across all subjects there was a 0.3 - per-cent increase in top-grade awards. Art was one of only seven GCSEs out of 37 where A*s decreased.

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