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Examiner newsletter July 2013

Note from the editor Welcome to the July 2013 edition of the examiner newsletter. Many thanks for all you have contributed to the successful issue of results to our May 2013 candidates this month. Over 128,000 IB students received their results at the beginning of July and for them, the results mean that they are able to progress with their lives—whether continuing to university or college, training, employment or gap years—with that crucial credential rewarding their achievements in the IB Diploma Programme (DP). This could not have happened without your contributions. Some facts and figures about the recent session are provided in this newsletter, together with valuable reflections about the role of an examiner from two examiner colleagues, which I know from your feedback that you will enjoy reading. There are a number of other articles that I hope will interest you, including information about the new Middle Years Programme (MYP) eAssessments, for which we will shortly recruit examiners. The MYP eAssessments will take place in June and December 2016 onwards so it would be possible to combine DP and MYP marking, as they would be at different times. Following a recent election process involving all the chief examiners, I am pleased to announce the appointment of David Homer as chair of the Examining Board and Richard Harvey as vice-chair of the Examining Board. Richard commenced his post in April 2013 and David will be taking over at the Chief Examiners’ Conference in October 2013. We are looking forward to working with David and Richard and will ensure that interviews with them feature in the next edition of the newsletter. In October we will say goodbye to the current chair of the Examining Board, Sheila Messer, who has been a wonderful sage and guide to everyone in the assessment team. Carolyn Adams Chief Assessment Officer

Middle Years Programme The IB has been offering the MYP for students aged 11 to 16 to IB World Schools for almost 20 years. It is now being implemented in approximately 1,000 schools around the world. The MYP is a flexible academic framework that emphasizes both interdisciplinary and disciplinary learning, all situated in real-world contexts. The MYP has recently undergone a thorough review that has based the new curriculum explicitly on concepts, inquiry and global contexts in order to encourage teaching and learning for deep understanding.

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Currently, under 20% of MYP schools present candidates for certification by the IB. The current certification is based entirely on moderation of internally assessed work. Despite its many strengths, it lacks the assessment rigour to achieve widespread government and university recognition. The IB is developing a new assessment and certification process for the final year of the MYP. From 2016, all MYP schools will submit samples of personal projects for external moderation by IB and students will have the option to take eAssessments for many of the courses they are studying. For language acquisition subjects, arts, physical and health education, and design, students will submit a specified electronic portfolio (or ePortfolio) of work for assessment. For language and literature, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics and interdisciplinary learning, students will complete on-screen, media-rich examinations. Key goals of this approach to assessment are a positive backwash effect on teaching and learning, and wider recognition from governments and universities of the value of the MYP certificate. To achieve the MYP certificate, a student will have to complete:    

a community service element achieve satisfactory performance in the personal project six on-screen examinations in language and literature; an individuals and societies subject, a science, mathematics and the interdisciplinary on-screen examination ePortfolios in an acquisition language and at least one subject from the arts, physical and health education, and design.

The on-screen examinations are designed to appear more like a website rather than an examination paper. They contain authentic assessment tasks using the potential of the medium to present candidates with engaging stimulus material and a diversity of response types. The responses of candidates to the on-screen examinations will be eMarked by examiners using Scoris web assessor. If you would like to become an examiner of the MYP on-screen examinations or ePortfolios, especially if you have MYP teaching experience, please complete an expression of interest form on the IB website.

Assessment research and design team In June 2012 a small assessment research and design team was established in the IB global centre in The Hague. The team consists of two managers, Antony Furlong and Rebecca Hamer, and a researcher, Sarah Manlove, who is assisting with the increasing number of assessment trials and assessment-related research. The team advises DP curriculum development colleagues on designing improved assessment models during the curriculum review process. In many cases this involves advising on the assessment options for various DP components, redrafting criteria to improve examiner agreement and performing trials to test the performance of assessment models and criteria.

Increased trialling of new assessment procedure Examiners are crucial to improving assessment practice and are increasingly being asked to participate in trialling new assessment procedures. Depending on the size of the subject and the extent of the change in assessment practice, recent trials have involved between 10 (philosophy) and 60 examiners (extended essay).

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Examiners are asked to mark existing or specifically commissioned student work using a new procedure or new criteria, and comments on their experience in using the new model are collected and analysed. The assessment trials focus on examiner agreement in marking (quantitative indicators of quality) and examiner feedback (qualitative indicators). Both indicators are used to formulate recommendations for curriculum development regarding an expected outcome of the new assessment model. Trialling assessment models in this way is a new element in curriculum development that has the added advantage of involving more teachers and examiners in improving assessment and, through this, IB teaching.

May 2013 statistics Number of:

May 2012

May 2013






- 4%




Raw marks required




Grades to be issued




Examiners allocated to marking/moderation




Candidates’ examination scripts e-marked




(67% of all scripts)

(99.5% of all scripts)



May session schools entering candidates November session schools entering candidates Candidates

Theory of knowledge essays e-marked



New Scoris assessor Those examiners who have marked in previous May sessions will be familiar with downloading Scoris, and also Scoris occasionally updating itself. For those examiners who used the Windows operating system, this was a simple experience. For Mac users, the only way to eMark scripts was to use Terminal Services, which gave a relatively poor experience. Good news is on the way! Over the past two years, the IB, together with RM Education PLC and the invaluable help of a number of volunteer examiners, developed a new version of Scoris. This new web-based version of Scoris was used for all marking in the November 2012 assessment session and will be used across all eMarked components from now. The key features of the new version of Scoris are:        

The application is multilingual, so the examiner can choose from the three core languages (English, Spanish and French). The design of the screens is softer and more attractive. IB terminology is used throughout, so words such as “suspended” have been changed. The examiner can organize and apply filters to the information on the download response screen. Thumbnails on the marking screen can be stretched to a preferred size. Icons have been replaced by buttons in order to make the interface more intuitive for users. The application is browser-based, instead of being specific to Microsoft. Users must install a Silverlight plug-in (like a Flash Player).

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Download response screen



Marking screen

We hope that you have found the new designs and features helpful to your marking this May.

Global Politics: The new kid on the block The IB is currently piloting a new DP subject, global politics, in the individuals and societies subject group (group 3), with first pilot phase examinations in May 2014. This new offering is an exciting, dynamic subject that draws on a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Historically, it has its origins in three separate, but related, school-based syllabus subjects:  human rights  peace and conflict studies  world politics and international relations. The subject draws elements from each of these, as well as adding elements of study from other areas, such as development (defined as a broad-based and sustained increase in the standard of living and well-being of a level of social organization). In the process, it has developed its own © International Baccalaureate Organization 2013 International Baccalaureate® | Baccalauréat International® | Bachillerato Internacional®

personality, with the main emphasis being on the central unifying theme of: “people, power and politics”. According to the global politics pilot guide, “the emphasis on people reflects the fact that the course explores politics not only at a state level but also explores the function and impact of non-state actors, communities and individuals. The concept of power is also emphasised as being particularly crucial to understanding the dynamics and tensions of global politics.” Until now, studies in the area of politics have only been available in limited entry, school-based syllabus subjects, or in the politics open-offer extended essay. Global politics has garnered a lot of interest from schools hoping to join the pilot phase, and it is anticipated that it will attract a healthy take-up when it is offered as a mainstream subject from September 2015 (with first examinations in May 2017). Given this anticipated growth, the IB is likely to need more examiners in this area. Examiners with a strong background in politics and/or a related area (such as international relations, development, human rights and peace and conflict studies) are welcome to apply.

Interview with an examiner Hazel Gil-Salazar, DP visual arts How long have you been involved with the IB and in what capacities? Nineteen years now, since the IB programme was introduced into our K12 school in Costa Rica in 1995. I can remember that last statement of the introductory lecture: “IB is here to stay!” A great advance worthy of joyous celebration it was, no doubt, but I must confess in retrospect it also sent some chills down my spine. I was the visual arts teacher at the elementary school when I started to attend the professional development workshops; I was soon captivated by the brilliance, magnificence and uniqueness of such an internationally-accredited programme whose framework had emerged in response to a simple question: Is There a Way of Teaching for Peace? (Marie-Thérèse Maurette, 1948). I immediately submitted my application for an examiner’s position, and soon after I was teaching the DP course for the first time. The IB learner profile provided the student-centered guidelines on the basis of which it was going to be possible to initiate the quest of creating more experiences and opportunities in the classroom that would allow the students to become genuine inquirers. Today, as a senior examiner and workshop leader, the best advice I can give anyone is to cherish those ancestral words of advice that my own fellow mentors always quoted: “Never say no because you will limit creativity!” and “Patience, all things are difficult before they become easy!” Over the time you have been teaching, there have been significant developments in education in different parts of the world. What sort of changes have you noticed in the way visual arts students approach their subject? The revolutionary changes that easier access to technology and the internet have brought about everywhere, and particularly in the realm of education, have made it possible to develop a cooperative construction of knowledge and to introduce a variety of interactive media into the classroom. Learning has never been so dynamic; thanks to so many communication tools our students now have resources at their disposal that help them develop their whole potential in a way that would have been unimaginable in previous times.

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For some teachers like myself who “learned to learn” in a non-digitalized environment, it isn’t easy to comprehend the scope of knowledge which our students have developed thanks to their competence in technological instruments. As they advance into this programme that engages them into original thinking and problem solving, communication, interpretation and renovation of ideas and information, they amaze us and teach us something at every step with their sure and eager responses. Something notable is the logical manner in which they draw, design, conceive and express by means of the visual image and the power inherent to it. Evident in the production of their studio work and investigation workbooks is a wonderful sense of ownership derived from their ability to manage virtual tools and to expand their creative, imaginative, thinking. Their work is enhanced, not jeopardized, by the magnificent array of tools and sources at their disposal. As visual arts experts, our only hope is to rise up to the times and also become digital imaging experts. Are you looking forward to on-screen marking in May 2013? Yes, it gives me great satisfaction to be able to work with front-line technological organizations where evolution as a process is consistent with the highest objectives proposed in our global world. Change poses a challenge to everyone, and is also a stimulus for our intellect and our creativity. Change is a defying invitation for us to reach our highest goals in life. As a learner at heart, which I have always been, I am happy to teach, evaluate, moderate, and facilitate the advancement of new insights. To navigate through the confounding range of responsibilities, new technologies and procedures that transform our skills and capacities is not always simple. However, change is inevitable and we must embrace it with confidence and an open mind. From my position as a teacher, I am delighted to help my students develop into emerging artists. The on-screen marking system will enable me to witness the transformation experienced by students from all over the world; to have a formidable opportunity, that is, to grow, discover, learn and teach. What do you think are the challenges and opportunities provided by visual arts being marked onscreen marking? The Diploma Programme provides for rigorous evaluation in the different areas of knowledge and visual arts is no exception. The unique open curriculum of the Diploma Programme visual arts course is broad enough to encompass the individual approaches of teachers and students from diverse cultural backgrounds, but it must also be assessed according to an international standardized, criterion-referenced evaluation system. Until 2012, the external examiner had been sent to the different locations to assess the students’ works, which was done by means of exhibits especially set up for this purpose, and individual interviews. Beginning this year the examiner will view the works online through the interface at the IB information (IBIS) site. Concerning the assessment of visual arts works based on electronically-reproduced images, much has been said about image fidelity/reliability given the wide range of types of reception equipment used by examiners and the latter’s abilities in this field. My opinion on this is based on 18 years of experience examining work in both May and November sessions; in the end I can see only insignificant differences between an assessment of the work made by the new e-submission procedures and one made using a photographic record booklet, the only object that the moderator reviewed. The impact is the same; if the work is precisely adjusted to the descriptors established for its creation, there is no loss of expressiveness or personal content because of a new assessment methodology. In other words, if the student and the teacher work together and target together the higher assessment descriptor marks the outcome will always be success. Learning the ropes in the Diploma Programme visual arts course is as time consuming now as it has always been. The programme owes its uniqueness to the openness of a curriculum that requires an individual approach; the art teacher has the ability to embrace change and adopt an original approach to the teaching/learning experience in the pursuit of excellence, in the constant quest to meet student and community expectations. In our vertiginous and fortuitous world the challenge lies in finding new ways to integrate together the emotional and the social elements, thus enriching true learning and participation in self-discovery practices designed to increase observation, innovation, and perceptive and performing skills. © International Baccalaureate Organization 2013 International Baccalaureate® | Baccalauréat International® | Bachillerato Internacional®

How do you think on-screen marking will affect quality assurance and the reliability of marks awarded to candidates? The candidates’ performance is neither spoiled nor impaired by the new system; the score compares a student's performance and degree of mastery to specific standards regardless of the impossibility of the external examiner to come into first-hand direct contact with the work. The proof that candidates provide—whether in the form of photographic record booklets or electronically-uploaded images— must evidence clearly and coherently its visual qualities, ideas and contexts, through a visual record of the work. “Every little bit counts”; every piece submitted should be carefully shaped on the basis of the candidate’s statement. The images should have good resolution, and in-depth research pages that show critical analysis, developmental processes and personal judgment should accompany the submission. One or two photographs of the complete submission help make the appraisal of the work presented. The interview with the student is not a requirement but can be a wonderful opportunity for candidates to provide more information on their process and the ideas underlying their work, whereby more links will surface of the relationships that exist between their work and their research. Three-dimensional work and more complex studio work may be additionally presented in the form of a short video that allows the possibility to zoom in, in order to observe subtle surface qualities and detail. It is also an excellent way to present two-dimensional work with multiple pieces that might not be adequately represented in only one shot of the image. One concern that might arise out of the impossibility to “touch” the physical work is that the digital image can be manipulated and enhanced. However, is that not also a visual learning experience in itself? Do you think that acting as an examiner has helped your teaching? Most definitely! Being an examiner opens up opportunities to embark on a journey of continuous discovery. It enables the individual to share a treasury of responses designed by teachers from all parts of the world with the purpose of developing intercultural awareness; contributing to an understanding of international and environmental issues; and generating sound judgment skills that nurture intellectual development and action. This, needless to say, leads to the formation of enduring attitudes, values and satisfactions. Anyone in this position can acquire a great amount of knowledge on how young artists explore the visual–spatial dimension beyond our normally limited parameters. Acting as a team leader and mentor in the IB community has helped me see more clearly how art helps refine our historical and multicultural comprehension, and how a problem-solving attitude in the visual world enhances intelligence and stimulates creativity and self esteem which will, in turn, expand the ceaseless building process of learning. My plan for the future consists of continuing collaboration and the search for new opportunities to observe art, talk about art, appreciate art and, above all, spend more time creating meaningful art. The inspirational role models in my quest are a committed group of colleagues and the guidance of some of the finest teachers in the world.

Assessment design and innovation team The assessment design and Innovation (ADI) team is the amalgamation of three discrete but related teams operating within the assessment division. The three teams in ADI are:   

research and design assessment quality business integration.

Together the team represents the development cycle of: 

assessment design

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  

innovation in assessment marking systems evaluation through quality assurance at the micro and macro levels.

The business integration team has two colleagues who are responsible for channelling business requirement into Scoris and IBIS, and also for conducting user acceptance testing (UAT) of new products in Scoris and IBIS related to eMarking. The team manage the relationship with RM Education PLC. Assessment Quality deals with all matters related to the quality of assessment marking, from setting tolerances for eMarking seeds based on research on historical assessment data, to applying their mathematical and statistical skills to resolving complex moderation issues for internally assessed moderation. The Assessment Quality team also review examiner performance and seed quality in eMarking.

Interview with an examiner Neil King, English A How many years have you been an examiner with the IB? Sixteen, although my examining career began back in 1970. I needed some extra money to pay for my honeymoon, and a colleague suggested I become an examiner. My first marking for the IB was the May 1997 session. What attracted you to teaching English? At school I had brilliant teachers for both English and history. After leaving school I went on to study a degree in English at Durham University. I spent most of my time at university putting acting and directing before work (justifying it by saying that I was really working on literature, which I came to love more and more). I then

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did a teaching qualification at Cambridge University and went on to teach English for 37 years until I retired in 2006. What are your top three examining tips?  

Note the deadline for your marking to be completed, work out how many days you can devote to the task, divide that into the total of target and ensure that you complete the required number of scripts to your timetable. For senior examiners: always write a friendly “hello” letter to your team before the marking session starts, introducing yourself, highlighting what you consider to be the important aspects of the coming task and reassuring your team that, when problems arise (as they probably will), you are there to help. Again for senior examiners: everybody who examines is sensitive to criticism, especially those who have been doing the job for a long time without issues. And everybody, even the most senior and experienced of examiners, can occasionally go off the rails, and especially in a subjective essay-writing subject. Kind and sensitive mentoring techniques, which can be time-consuming, need to be employed when an examiner is getting things a little wrong—and this will happen more often under the new eMarking seeding system, where you need to point out to an examiner that it is not the end of the world if their marks are out of tolerance occasionally and he or she stopped marking for a short time pending a discussion with you. The tone of that discussion is vital: remember that your object is to make that examiner feel confident again, and not to upset them further. Of course, if the examiner is persistently well wide of the mark, your subject manager may need to stop them completely; but most examiners will learn from mentoring.

Favourite place? A village called Puyreaux in the heart of the Charente, France, where I had an old Napoleonic farmhouse as a holiday home for 23 years, and where I would sometimes go to get a stint of IB examining done. What do you like most about being an examiner for the IB? The company of good colleagues, both staff at Cardiff and examiners from various parts of the world, with whom I set questions, standardize papers, complete awards and marking reviews, doing online mentoring and various other things. Oh, and of course there is the examining itself. As well as acting as a principal examiner, I much enjoy marking the extended essays. The advent of online marking has proved less worrisome than I anticipated, although there are still some teething problems. Examining is often a slog, but sometimes it puts onto my desk an essay by an 18-year-old student that has me marvelling and saying to myself, “I thought I knew this work backwards, and that never occurred to me. I wish I’d said that!”

News in brief Nearly 100% of scripts eMarked In the May 2013 examination session, 99.83% of examination scripts were eMarked by examiners. So why not 100%? The very few scripts that were not eMarked (about 1,500), were those where the language is written from right to left, such as Arabic, Dhivehi, Hebrew, Pashto, Persian and Urdu. For these languages, the answer booklets have the fold and stitching on the right-hand side, which makes guillotining and scanning more challenging. We have also delayed eMarking a Geography paper with a lot of options until we can mark by individual question (May 2014) and school based syllabuses. However, these challenges will soon be overcome so that 100% of scripts can be scanned and eMarked. © International Baccalaureate Organization 2013 International Baccalaureate® | Baccalauréat International® | Bachillerato Internacional®

Japanese becomes a response language The IB is collaborating with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) over increased access to the DP for IB students in Japan. This will result in an increased number of state schools in Japan offering the DP with Japanese being available as a response language in selected subjects, the theory of knowledge essay and a range of subjects for the extended essay. The first examination session in which Japanese will be available as a response language is November 2016. We will be recruiting Japanese-speaking examiners very shortly.

The IB Career-related Certificate In 2012, the IB Career-related Certificate (IBCC) became the fourth educational programme offered by the IB. The IBCC is a unique programme specifically tailored for students who wish to engage in career-related learning. Its framework is built around three interconnected elements:  at least two Diploma Programme courses  an IBCC core that includes approaches to learning, community and service, language development and a reflective project  an approved career-related study. Increasingly, the candidates’ work that examiners mark or moderate includes the work from IBCC candidates. In the May 2012 session there were 74 candidates from 13 schools, which increased to 246 candidates from 33 schools in the May 2013 session. Forecasts indicate that the IBCC is well on its way to becoming very a successful and sought-after programme.

Senior examiner positions We are currently recruiting for two senior examiner positions:  

Chief Examiner in philosophy Deputy Chief Examiner in English B

Due to the nature of the role, the Chief Examiner position is not available to teachers in IB schools, but the Deputy Chief Examiner position is open to all applicants. For more information on each of these roles and how to apply, please visit the IB public website at The closing date for these positions is 6 September 2013.

Note of correction The Computer science article in the “News in brief” section of the January 2013 edition of the examiner newsletter contained incorrect contact details for the subject manager. If you have any queries about this change or the nature of the new course, please do not hesitate to contact the subject manager Emlyn Williams (

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Examiner newsletter july2013 english version  
Examiner newsletter july2013 english version  

IB examiner newsletter July 2013