7 April 2020
To all Cambridge International schools around the world,
This is our fourth update on the June 2020 exam series, bringing you more guidance on providing grades for students. It also provides answers and updates to other questions we have received, where possible.
Cambridge Assessment International Education would like to thank all our schools for the very helpful feedback, insight and support you are giving us as we develop our support and processes.
We know that schools are facing challenging circumstances and we continue to provide as much clarity as we can, as quickly as we can. Some matters are complex, and we want to make sure our approach works for all Cambridge schools worldwide, in a variety of different national contexts.
Our priority continues to be making sure our actions protect students’ and teachers’ safety, and help students obtain the fairest outcome possible, with the quality and integrity they would expect from Cambridge.
We gave initial guidance to schools on 31 March about evidence to consider when working with us so that students receive grades in June 2020.
We can now share with you our process for awarding grades to candidates entered for Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level, Cambridge International AS & A Level, Cambridge IPQ or Cambridge Pre-U syllabuses in the June 2020 series.
Our approach remains to ask schools to collaborate with us as we make evidence-based decisions about grades for each candidate in each subject.
Our process has four steps:
- Centre determines a predicted grade for each candidate for each syllabus entered
- Centre determines a rank order of its candidates within each grade for each syllabus
- Head of centre confirms the predicted grades and rank orders, and centre sends them to Cambridge International
- Cambridge International carries out a standardisation process, combining data from the school with other data, and awards final grades.
You can find detailed guidance about how to work with us through each of these four steps in our accompanying document, “Awarding grades for Cambridge International qualifications in the June 2020 series”.
Cambridge Assessment International Education has drawn on its wealth of assessment expertise to develop this process of grading students and we believe it is the most valid, fair and effective approach in these unique circumstances.
In developing this approach, we have engaged with different entities worldwide, including other awarding bodies, governments and universities. We have also engaged with the UK government’s exams regulator, Ofqual, which has developed a similar process for the GCSEs and A Levels taken by schools in England.
As explained previously, we will treat private candidates in the same way as school candidates, in that all the grades we award will be based on evidence.
Where centres have accepted entries from private candidates, those students should be included if the head of centre is confident that the head and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the student’s achievement to make an objective judgement.
Where a candidate has not been taught at the centre handling their entry, centres need to carefully consider what evidence can be authenticated. Evidence from education institutions and previous schools may be acceptable.
As with schools, heads of centre will be responsible for vouching for the authenticity of the evidence gathered about every candidate.
Unfortunately, we recognise that some centres may not able to find enough evidence for some of their private candidates. It is unlikely to be possible therefore to give grades to all private candidates, some of whom may instead need to take exams in the November 2020 exam series to get their grades. If centres cannot supply a predicted grade for a candidate through lack of evidence, we will not charge the exam fee.
Private candidates with questions about this process should contact the centre with which they have registered their entry.
Other frequently asked questions
- How will Cambridge International AS Level grades from June 2020 count towards Cambridge International A Level in future series? We are working urgently to finalise our policy on this and we will inform you as soon as possible. We recommend that you keep your entries in for Cambridge International AS Level. It will be possible for you to withdraw them as appropriate later without charge once we announce our policy.
- How will Cambridge AICE Diploma rules apply with the grades awarded in June 2020? The grades we award for Cambridge International AS & A Level in June 2020 will count towards the Cambridge AICE Diploma we award in June 2020. We are urgently exploring how we extend time limit rules. We recommend that you keep your entries in. It will be possible for you to withdraw them as appropriate later without charge once we announce our policy.
- How will Cambridge ICE rules apply with these grades in June 2020? The grades we award for Cambridge IGCSE in June 2020 will count towards the Cambridge ICE we award in June 2020. We are urgently exploring how we extend time limit rules. We recommend that you keep your entries in. It will be possible for you to withdraw them as appropriate later without charge once we announce our policy.
- Will results be delayed? We have no plans to delay release of results in August 2020.
- Withdrawing candidates:
- For schools working directly with Cambridge International: You can withdraw or enter candidates via Cambridge International Direct until 17 April. You can also, until 1 May, withdraw either a whole cohort of candidates for a syllabus, or a small number of candidates about whom you cannot find evidence. If you do withdraw candidates between 18 April and 1 May, you will need to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to do this, rather than use Direct.
- For schools working with British Council: If you work with us via the British Council, the extended deadline for withdrawals (for whole cohorts or small numbers of candidates about whom you cannot find evidence) is 24 April rather than 1 May, and you will need to contact them to do this.
- For schools working through local Cambridge Associates: If you work with us via a local Cambridge Associate, you will need to contact them directly for details about the extended deadline for withdrawals (for whole cohorts or small numbers of candidates about whom you cannot find evidence).
- Can subjects usually offered only in June be available in the November 2020 series? We are urgently exploring which June-only syllabuses we can offer in November. We appreciate the strong interest in this and we will provide an update very soon.
- What should we do with question papers we’ve received? We have already despatched question papers to schools so it is possible you will receive these despatches. If you have received any question papers we ask that you do not open them. Instead, store them securely as normal until we provide further information. If it is safe and you are happy to accept the consignment, please do so. If you do not intend to take the delivery or are unable to, please get in contact with Customer Service at email@example.com so that we can make arrangements with the courier.
We understand that the current situation is having a significant impact on schools, students and parents. Some centres have asked if there will be any changes to our fees. We are working on this, and we will update centres on Thursday 9 April.
We can confirm that we will not charge a fee for any entry for a student who does not receive a grade in cases where a centre cannot give a predicted grade or a place in the rank order. There will be no charges for the June series for late entries until 17 April or withdrawals up to 1 May.
Universities and recognition
The grades awarded for June 2020 series will have the same value as grades awarded in any other series.
We continue to talk to universities so they understand our approach to grading students this year as they adapt to make sure students are not systematically disadvantaged. We understand that universities will treat grades in the usual way. We will update you more about their policies in future updates.
Support for teaching and learning
Many schools have now been closed for several weeks, but are doing a fantastic job of delivering remote teaching and learning. We are continuing to add to the ‘Teaching and learning when school is closed’ section on our website, which includes:
- Tools to support remote teaching and learning
- Resources for you and your learners, including tips for students and parents and Resource Plus for teachers and learners
- E-books from Cambridge publishing partners
- Webinars and online training
Staying in touch
You can find our advice on our website at www.cambridgeinternational.org/covid.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with us via: www.cambridgeinternational.org/help or contact your local Cambridge Associate (such as the British Council).
Our communications on our website may change on a daily basis, and we will send a general update to schools on 16 April.
We wish everyone in the Cambridge International community well at this difficult time.
01 Apr 2020
Cambridge Assessment International Education would like to reiterate our thanks to schools for their support and feedback on our decision not to hold our international examinations in the May/June 2020 series, and to the updates we sent on 26 March.
We are endeavouring to provide as much clarity as we can as quickly as possible. In these unprecedented circumstances, it is important for us to make sure all our students obtain the fairest outcome possible, with the quality and integrity they would expect from Cambridge.
Please see below further updates on providing grades for students, private candidates, our discussions with universities and other questions.
Thank you for your patience. Further details will be sent to schools on Tuesday 7 April.
Providing grades for students
It is vital to Cambridge International to ensure that all our students studying in many different countries and contexts around the world receive a fair, valid and globally recognised qualification.
The process we will use to provide grades for students will be a collaborative one with schools.
The decision on grades to be awarded to candidates will be made by Cambridge, using our own evidence combined with evidence from schools.
Our approach will be to ask schools to collaborate with us as we make evidence-based decisions about grades for each candidate in each subject they have entered for in the May/June 2020 exam series for Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level, Cambridge International AS & A Level and Cambridge Pre-U.
We are now asking schools to consider what evidence they will be able to gather to support these decisions. The evidence should consist of examples of work candidates have done to prepare for their May/ June 2020 exams.
The types of evidence that might be available could include but will not be limited to:
- mock exams (see FAQ below)
- coursework (complete or incomplete)
- AS Level results for ‘staged-route’ A Level candidates
- grades in previous sittings for candidates re-taking exams.
From our FAQs
Does this mean a student’s grade must be the same as their mock exam result?
No. Mock exam results are just one of several pieces of evidence to consider. We know students work very hard between mock exams and the actual exam, and performances can improve.
You do not need to set students fresh work to gather evidence – for example, you do not need to set new mock papers, set assignments or ask them to complete unfinished coursework.
From our FAQs
Does this mean students should stop working?
No. It means you can of course continue to set assignments to candidates to support ongoing teaching and learning while they are at home. You do not need to set new mock papers set assignments or ask candidates to complete unfinished coursework for the purposes of gathering evidence. However, if you are able and feel this would help your evidence then you are free to do so.
We understand that centres may not be able to access all of this evidence remotely. At this point, we ask centres to begin to consider what evidence they have available.
All of the evidence that you gather must be authenticated (that is, your centres must be satisfied that it is the candidate’s own unaided work). Heads of centre will be responsible for vouching for the authenticity of the evidence gathered about every candidate.
Please do not send any of your evidence to us at this time.
In due course you will be asked to process the evidence you have gathered. More details of the processing we will ask you to do will be shared on Tuesday 7 April.
We know that gathering and processing this evidence will take time for you to do, and you will have approximately two months to do it. Exact deadlines will be circulated later.
Your centre will be asked to send us some, or possibly all, of the evidence gathered for our auditing purposes. This request will be made at a later date, so centres must retain all of the evidence they consider, even after they have completed their processing.
Where a centre works with us via a Cambridge Associate, including the British Council, the centre itself will be responsible for gathering, processing and retaining the evidence.
We will support you throughout this process, and give you clear guidance about how to work with us, what information to submit, how and when.
We will give more detail on Tuesday 7 April about next steps and how we will use evidence.
We will treat private candidates in the same way as school candidates, in that all the grades we award will be based on evidence.
Where a candidate has not been taught at the centre handling their entry, centres must carefully investigate what evidence of the candidate’s work can be obtained and authenticated. Evidence from a candidate’s previous school is likely to be acceptable. Evidence from parents or from the candidates themselves should not be accepted. Evidence from tutors needs to be considered in the individual context.
Heads of centre will be responsible for vouching for the authenticity of the evidence gathered about every candidate.
Making entries and withdrawals
If it is the right decision for your centre, you can withdraw some or all entries from the June 2020 series and then enter these candidates in a later series such as November 2020. Schools can enter candidates for the November exam series from mid-May. We are reviewing if it will be possible to provide some syllabuses in this series which are currently only available in the June series. We will update centres about this before 10 April 2020.
If you have withdrawn entries for June 2020 but now wish to re-enter you can do so using Cambridge International Direct up to 17 April 2020, or 10 April for British Council schools. You will not be charged late fees or amendment fees for making these entries. You can only withdraw candidates for a complete syllabus, not for a single component. Entries will not be accepted after 17 April.
We are in direct contact with universities around the world and they understand our decision not to hold the exams in the June 2020 series. They have informed us that they are committed to being as flexible as they can towards applicants who will not be able to sit their exams due to this crisis. They understand the disruption to teaching and learning experienced by students around the world.
The grades and qualifications that Cambridge International awards for this June series will carry the same value as grades and qualifications for any other series.
We will be working with universities to explain the methodology we will follow to provide grades, and will give them information about the wide range of evidence we will use to provide fair and reliable results. We are doing everything we can to ensure that universities accept grades in the usual way and that applicants are not disadvantaged by the decision not to hold exams in the June series.
Support for schools
During this difficult time, many elements of our everyday lives have changed. We fully understand how important it is for you to continue delivering learning and keep students motivated and connected. We have been inspired to hear about all the new and innovative ways in which teaching and learning is happening around the world.
Last week, Paul Beedle (Deputy Director, Professional Development) and Andrew Field (eLearning Manager) recorded a webinar called Teaching in a time of crisis – being resilient, adaptive and resourceful. It focuses on supporting teachers as they adapt to a new way of teaching, and shares examples of how technology can be used to enhance learning and change the dynamics of the classroom in a positive way. It also reminds teachers how important it is to be kind to themselves – we are all learning together, and the process of teaching remotely is one of trial and error.
You can watch this webinar, and others, on the Teaching and Learning when school is closed section on our website
This section also signposts you to:
- Tools to support remote teaching and learning
- Resources for you and your learners including tips for students and parents on managing stress and learning effectively at home
- E-books from Cambridge publishing partners
Staying in touch
You can find all our advice on our website
If you have any questions, please get in touch with us via our help section.
We will update schools again on Tuesday 7 April. We wish everyone in the Cambridge International community well at this difficult time.