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Computer science GCSE rules to be reviewed to tackle cheating

01/12/2017 Joanna

Exams regulator Ofqual is consulting on potential changes to the way computer science GCSEs are assessed in order to crack down on cheating.

The planned amendments to non-exam assessment in GCSE computer science come in response to evidence of widespread rule breaches, with some of this year's tasks having been posted on online forums and collaborative programming sites alongside detailed solutions, with many of these posts having been viewed thousands of times.

These assessments are intended to test students' programming skills and are worth 20 per cent of the overall 9 to 1 grade, but the fact that these materials are now circulating online means it may no longer be possible for exam boards to ensure that grades awarded next summer will fairly reflect the ability of the students in question.

As such, Ofqual is seeking views on alternative assessment arrangements for students sitting exams in 2018 and 2019, with the regulator proposing that the non-exam assessment task should remain mandatory, but also that it will no longer contribute to the overall 9 to 1 grade.

Explaining this idea, Ofqual pointed to the continued value that students gain by completing programming tasks, with teachers' feedback on the completed task helping to act as vital preparation for the final exams - which include the assessment of computational thinking and programming - even if marks for each student will not be formally provided to exam boards.

Julie Swan, executive director for general qualifications at Ofqual, said: "Subject to the consultation responses, we believe our preferred solution will deliver fairer and more reliable results than would otherwise be the case. It will also allow us to be confident that standards will be set appropriately."

The consultation will run until December 22nd 2017, with a decision to be announced in the week beginning January 8th 2018.

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