Some schools in some countries to cancel IB Diploma exams.
After mounting pressure following the cancellation of IGCSEs, the IB organisation has announced a “dual route” for the May 2021 Diploma exams.
Following consultation with over 3,000 schools in more than 150 countries, the IB has decided on a dual approach where schools can continue to offer IB exams in May or choose teacher assessment. Schools, in consultation with local government guidelines, will offer exams if they can safely do so.
Each school will take into account the Covid-19 restrictions in their region. This means no decision has been made for individual countries. This approach was used in the November 2020 series in the southern hemisphere and the IB’s advisory body, the head’s council, considered it “equitable and transparent”.
This follows what some dubbed “the IB results scandal” in 2020 when the IB was accused by some parents of letting high achieving students down by awarding lower than expected scores.
In light of the continued Covid-19 crisis the IB is working to provide flexibility for schools where the pandemic is at different stages of severity in different regions. The IB “is working with schools to determine which of the two pathways is best for their region: written examinations, where they can be administered safely, or an alternative route using a combination of internal assessment coursework and teacher-predicted grades, where they can’t”.
The IB organisation will release more details over the comings days, having come under increasing pressure to announce their position on written exams following the cancellation of IGCSEs by both the AQA and Edexcel exam boards. Although schools are still waiting for a definitive decision on whether the Cambridge IGCSE exam board will go ahead with written examinations.
They also announced that 71% of schools (covering 61% of students) said they would be able to administer the exams. No figures were available for International Schools in Switzerland at the time of going to press. However, nervous parents and students will have to wait to find out the approach of their school.
Schools also have the choice to defer to the November 2021 or May 2022 sessions.
In terms of awarding grades the IB stated: “During grade-awarding, appropriate grade boundaries will be set for each route, building in generosity that reflects the disruption experienced in teaching and learning around the world and considering how grades are likely to be distributed in other large-scale qualifications”.
In response to concerns about grade disparity between route they confirmed that “IB grades will be distributed between schools and students to ensure each individual qualification is an accurate reflection of achievement and that they can be fairly compared with one another”.
They also added: “Reflecting the fact that May 2020 predicted grades were higher than in previous years, the IB will recommend generous guidelines within which teachers will be asked to submit their predictions. Where teachers feel these predicted grade distributions are not aligned with student performance, the IB is developing a process that will allow schools to request a different grade distribution and provide evidence that supports their claim. This will form part of the predicted grade process in February and March.”
This still leaves parents and students in a position of uncertainty, adding to the considerable stress and worry they are already experiencing due to the disruption over the last year.
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