After an unbelievably complicated exam season in 2020, the International Baccalaureate (IB), earlier this year, had revealed a new strategy for exams in 2021 that addressed the loss of teaching time and other challenges and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IB Schools in India proposed a dual assessment model in order to provide the most appropriate course of action for individual institutions. Essentially, for the May 2021 Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme examination session, IB schools in India had to decide whether or not to hold exams, depending on local restrictions and their ability to do so safely. If schools could administer exams, students would be assessed with the ‘examination route.’ Otherwise, students who cannot sit exams would be graded using the ‘non-examination route’ as described in the awarding model outlined in February.
Earlier this week, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Board decided to cancel their class 12 or diploma programme exam and take the non-exam route in India. It has also cancelled the alternative tasks for the Middle Years Programme and the career-related programme owing to the steep rise in the Covid-19 cases in India, following ongoing conversations with schools, associations and education boards.
The IB Schools in India understands the impact of this crisis on education and commits to providing the best possible assessments for all students in these incredibly difficult times.
Students on the ‘non-examination route,’ will be evaluated using a combination of internal assessment, coursework, and predicted grades. IAs and coursework will continue to weigh the same as they did previously, with predicted grades replacing examinations in the final calculations.
Thus: Coursework & IAs (20%-40%) + Predicted grades (60%-80%) = Final Mark. To strengthen predicted grade accuracy globally for schools on both routes (exam and non-exam), the IB has provided schools with customized predicted grade distributions for each subject.
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During grade-awarding, appropriate grade boundaries will be set for each route, building in compassion that reflects the interruptions experienced in teaching and learning around the world and considering how grades are likely to be distributed in other large-scale qualifications.
The IB has also stated that they are developing a process to address a scenario in which teachers feel the predicted grade distributions are not aligned with student performance. It seems they will have the option to request a different grade distribution and provide evidence that supports their claim.
Conducting examinations is the most reliable way to assess students’ achievements, but the decision has been taken considering the safety of students and teachers. There is a possibility it may not benefit all the students. The impact can only be assessed after the results will be out.
Last year, the IB had said that the predicted grades were higher compared to past years, but several students complained otherwise. This year, the IB has given more guidelines within which teachers have to submit their predictions. While 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.
IB is doing their best to make sure IB students still receive IB diplomas, even if their coursework and final exams have been disturbed. Students who complete the IB diploma requirements will receive their diploma, even if some of their courses were virtual and/or their school chose the non-exam route for 2020 and/or 2021 IB exams.
As far as foreign admissions are concerned, the vast majority of colleges have been and continue to keep their same IB credit policies despite the changes due to COVID-19. Universities worldwide have honoured the 2020 results, where grade awarding was based on the IA and predicted grades and historical data. IB will continue to actively engage with universities regarding their grade awarding approach to ensure continued acceptance. It is also confident that the Diploma or Certificate will be recognized by universities for all students.