Focus on internal assessments for fair grades, students in Dubai told

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Dubai - Last year, many students were left disgruntled feeling that they did not get deserved marks after the cancellation of external board exams.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Sat 21 Nov 2020, 5:24 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Nov 2020, 5:25 PM

Schools are urging students to focus more on internal assessments as it is increasingly becoming crucial during board evaluations.

Last year, many students were left disgruntled feeling that they didn’t get deserved marks after the cancellation of external board exams last year – including the International Baccalaureate, A-levels and some Indian Affiliated Boards.

Coursework and internal tests are equally important like external exams, said Gemma Thornley, Secondary Principal, GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail. “The situation that arose last year with schools having to mark cohorts of students through Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) has led to schools speculating about where we could be in the summer of 2021. As it stands, the examination boards in England have advised that examinations will go ahead as advertised, albeit with a few more weeks to prepare. But students should have plenty of opportunity for internal quality assessments that will stand as CAG predictions if the same format as 2020 were to be applied.”

She advised students to prepare for what is to be true at this moment in time. “Even if the situation with traditional examinations were to change, the skills, content and subject knowledge the students are learning will set them up for the next steps in their educational career.”

Given the extraordinary nature of the examination process this year, it is prudent for all schools to prepare for any eventuality, said Simon Crane, headmaster Brighton College Dubai. “We have introduced additional ‘mock examinations’ to support our pupils and is continuing to monitor information closely from the boards, educational and exam regulators, governments and others. As with all examinations, my advice is for pupils to take them seriously, work hard and seek continuous advice. Everyone will need to show exemplary resilience over the next few months.”

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-Principal of Credence High School said: “Students in our school are aware that the marks of the internal assessment will be considered in calculating the final grades. We take assessments to understand the level of students and for further planning. It is important that we do not create any additional stress as students are already going through a difficult time.”

Mixed reactions among students

While some students have welcomed the news of giving more importance to internal assessments, others feel it makes things more stressful.

Nandini Bhattacharya, a Year 10 student of Jumeirah College, said: “Our school is softly preparing us. At the moment, I do not feel any burden. As students, we do realise that this year is uncertain in many ways and this may trickle into the next year as well. So, taking our coursework and internal assessments seriously is actually in our own interest.”

An IB curriculum student Shreya Bahadur said: “Last year, many students did not get the spots at their desired universities simply because exams were cancelled and everything was suddenly based on the internals and predicted grades. I feel stressed thinking about that. Therefore, I feel even if the year-round assessment does put some extra pressure on us, yet it’s far better than being in a fix later.” Reflecting on the challenges, Malaysian student Aiman Talib added: “We’ve been asked to focus on IAs (Individual Assessments). Stress is certainly piling up as we are making early applications into universities based on our predicted grades as well. This means every component of our school work, right from the beginning matters. We have to take our mock exams seriously as historical performances in schools are increasingly becoming important, due to the unpredictable situation caused by Covid-19.”

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