Imagine receiving an “F” on a test, then having it changed to an “A” the next day with no explanation. That’s exactly what happened to Advanced International Certification of Education (AICE) students at CCHS this summer.
On August 11, the University of Cambridge released the May/June 2020 exam scores for all of their high school AICE courses. Ten days later, new exam scores were awarded to students worldwide with minimal explanation. The number of students that passed the exams shot up; originally, CCHS had 550 passing test grades, but the new scores raised that number to 698.
According to the statement Cambridge released on August 17, these new scores were not lower than the predicted grades sent in from the school. If a student received a higher score on the initial grade, they would be permitted to keep it.
But what was wrong with the first set of scores, and why were they changed?
In March, Cambridge canceled exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they offered a new way for students to be scored from home. Schools would prepare an evidence-based predictive score for each student, which would then be sent to Cambridge.
“Cooper City High was required by Cambridge to produce an evidence-based grade established by the exam curriculum’s components and grade threshold,” testing coordinator Melissa Megna said. “Once we submitted our grades, Cambridge applied an algorithm to determine the student’s final grade.”
“Cooper City High was required by Cambridge to produce an evidence-based grade established by the exam curriculum’s components and grade threshold.”Testing coordinator Melissa Megna
The weight fell on the schools and teachers to evaluate their students. The teachers who were tasked with picking these predictive scores spent a good deal of time combing over the progress and work of each student in order to come up with a fair grade.
“The scores were chosen based on their [the students’] work throughout the year, their understanding of the content and their essay writing skills,” AICE history teacher Peggy Wilfong said.
Once the predictive scores were sent to Cambridge, everyone had to sit tight. AICE students had to wait until August for their scores to come out, nearly a month after the College Board’s release of Advanced Placement (AP) scores in July.
Some students report anticipating these scores all summer.
“I was anxious to find out my scores and excited to find out how I did because it was my first AICE class,” senior Rachel Goldberg said.
When scores were initially released on August 11, both students and teachers were confused. Students were receiving low scores, lower than the predictive scores sent to Cambridge.
“I felt that the first round of scores were way below my predictions,” Wilfong said.
“I felt that the first round of scores were way below my predictions.”AICE history teacher Peggy Wilfong
The CCHS guidance office was flooded with emails about score appeals and retakes as students frantically tried to figure out the problem with their scores. Less than a week later, Cambridge announced they would be providing each and every student a new exam score, but with little explanation as to why.
One possible explanation might be the announcements made by the British Department for Education (DFE) and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) about exam scores.
The DFE announced the implementation of the “triple lock” system for all A-level classes, which would allow British students different ways to possibly improve their calculated exam scores. The SQA declared that they were only using predicted scores from teachers and schools. These new procedures would improve the grades of students enrolled in Cambridge programs, and it could possibly put British and Scottish students at an advantage.
Another possible explanation could be the feedback from schools with the AICE program.
In a statement released on August 14, Cambridge said they were “listening to the feedback and suggestions” submitted after the scores were released. Apparently, students and schools globally were dissatisfied with the results of the exams.
“According to Cambridge, they changed the process in response to the feedback from schools and students,” Megna said. “They reverted the grades back to align with the curriculum evidence of mastery submitted by the schools.”
“While I’m not really sure why they changed the scores, I am happy because it raised my score.”Junior Jordan Winick
Whatever the reason for the re-grade, everyone at CCHS seems to appreciate the new scores.
“While I’m not really sure why they changed the scores, I am happy because it raised my score,” junior Jordan Winick said.
As some students point out, it is a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
“Everyone’s happy,” junior Tegan Ford said. “Cambridge gets money for the test, students and parents get good scores and college credit, teachers and schools look good.”
Photo by The Lariat Photography