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The lack of disclosure in IB grading is a disgrace

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Perhaps I am going out on a limb by saying this, or am simply completely uninformed, but as I see it, the way IB grades papers is utterly unproductive towards our educations. Allow me to explain. Upon finally receiving my IB scores, I was overwhelmed by disappointment... not with my scores, but with how they were presented: a single number next to a subject name. That's it. No details at all. Not the specific marks, not a breakdown among different papers and IAs, just one number. But the cardinal sin is that IB seemingly offers students no way of receiving their graded papers back. From what is supposedly an education program, this is truly an remarkable oversight. Students are left not only with no understanding of how they earned their grade, but no clue what they did wrong.

I remember being given by my teachers examples of graded IAs and EEs and being really stunned by the insight and sharpness the graders showed, and I would love to be able to get such a thorough explanation of the strengths and weaknesses of my various writings. Unfortunately, IB does not allow this. Furthermore, I'd suggest that receiving criticism and corrections is an absolutely crucial part of learning and growing as a student. I know I learned more about how to write from reading my English teacher's critiques of my in-class essays than I ever did from any textbook. But we have to move on to college with no feedback (outside that single number) on a massive body of work from the past two years. Perhaps if IB were the final part of our education this might be acceptable, but for those of us who have many more essays in our college futures to look forward to, this lack of feedback is utterly unproductive towards our education.

Maybe I'm alone on this, or maybe I dozed off when my IB coordinator explained how to get graded papers back. But having just received the numerical evaluations of my last two years of work, I'm left very unfulfilled by this total lack of feedback which leaves me with a complete inability to learn from my mistakes... especially since I don't know what those mistakes are.

And please, don't mistake me for being bitter about my scores. Only one of my scores surprised me, and I received the diploma by a safe margin. I'm just feeling disillusioned by the process, feeling that IB should re-evaluate this policy, and wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the matter.

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Yes I share your thoughts. I felt the same when I got my results last january. I'd love to get my papers back and see what when wrong and what went right. Anyway, this is the IB policy and I don't think we'd be able to change it. For your own sake, you can contact your IB Coordinator to get your grade breakdowns and see what you got for each component. :D

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I've heard from a teacher of mine that if we can ask IBO for our papers. She's not my IB Coordinator and as I see from your comments she has misunderstanding on this issue. I was really shocked when I found out that the IB actually does not give the papers back. And yes, I agree with you guys that they should revise their policy and that the papers (especially the essays for most of the future-humanities students) are crucial for us to see what our strengths and weaknesses are. Do you guys know somebody that has tried to get his/her exams back and what the result was?

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Our college was able to get back papers and IAs last year, the procedure sounded similar to that of domestic UK examination boards, I'm pretty sure there weren't any problems. Have you asked your co-ordinator?

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I was utterly disappointed by the fact that we didn't get any of our papers back. I mean, I want to know what I did right or wrong! I agree how learning from your mistakes can be life's greatest lesson and unfortunately IB doesn't allow this. I'm not sure why. I mean they scan the papers and it's all on the computer..how hard is it to just send it to us? I have no idea why we don't get our papers back. It's so dumb.

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Our college was able to get back papers and IAs last year, the procedure sounded similar to that of domestic UK examination boards, I'm pretty sure there weren't any problems. Have you asked your co-ordinator?

My coordinator is new but didn't seem to think there was a way for him to get the papers, though he can get specific test scores, which is the less important part of the equation for me.

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I have never heard of getting exam papers back! These are, after all, documents, they have to be kept for some time. I don't know how it is with IB, since someone told their school got the papers back, but the national exams I wrote last year and 4 years ago, I'd need a really good reason for them to let me at least look at the papers. Of course, I'd like to see my last year's Polish essay and see what the hell was wrong with it, but it's not gonna happen. So you should just focus on college. After all, IB isn't all about exams and what you wrote there! You said yourself that you learned more from the teacher's feedback than from any textbook. Which means that you've learned something. You already know it. The 2 years of IB isn't summed by a few numbers you got in the end but by the knowledge you acquired during this time.

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I felt the same way back when I got my scores. It is certainly not unreasonable to expect to see the breakdown of your mark - without having to track down your IB coordinator. It does get a little complicated to get everything graded then send it back to the school, and if someone wants a remark - you would have to send the papers back again. Schools can order back papers and essays from IB after a certain date, but by then I would expect that the people who wrote the papers to be elsewhere.

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Yeah I agree somewhat, it would be great to get examiner's feedback for each individual paper. The IB examiners also give some feedback for each individual school based on their strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject. You can get your component breakdowns from your teacher or IBC about a week after results come out. That being said, I think it would be nice if they could send a scanned copy of the exam and keep the original. It would be exhaustive but it would be good for students and teachers to see.

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I'm certain that your school can get papers back from the IBO on request. My English teacher gave out some of last year's English Paper 2s as samples for us. I don't think they're available until about March or April though.

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I agree that I actually want the feedback so that I know what I did wrong. however I guess the mark breakdown will do, especially if they give the grades for each marking criteria for each IA. then after knowing these I guess we can still discuss with our teacher on what probably made it score that grade. or I think this can be done by ourselves alone if we have enough sense to guess etc :P

and yes a friend of mine who graduated last November said he got his papers back from IBO but if I remember correctly he had to pay for it.

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Yeah I agree somewhat, it would be great to get examiner's feedback for each individual paper. The IB examiners also give some feedback for each individual school based on their strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject. You can get your component breakdowns from your teacher or IBC about a week after results come out. That being said, I think it would be nice if they could send a scanned copy of the exam and keep the original. It would be exhaustive but it would be good for students and teachers to see.

That's all you'll get. I saw somewhere posted by someone I forgot (that makes it sound like it's not real, but it is, promise!) a list of things students got well and common mistakes as well as the full assessment of questions that teacher brought up since they get to protest questions if they want to. This would give you the overall breakdown of what went well and what didn't and if you know you did it right but they said most people got it wrong then it doesn't apply to you but if they say something went terrible and you think you're included because you were fuzzy on the question then there ya go.

I'd love to see the papers honestly. We can't talk about them for 24 hours, whats the difference between seeing them and talking about them? I don't know. Maybe there is a way and no one bothers (dumb?) but w/e. Just would be great to know why (example) I got a 3 in french instead of a 4 or a 6 in bio instead of a 7 =/

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That's all you'll get. I saw somewhere posted by someone I forgot (that makes it sound like it's not real, but it is, promise!) a list of things students got well and common mistakes as well as the full assessment of questions that teacher brought up since they get to protest questions if they want to. This would give you the overall breakdown of what went well and what didn't and if you know you did it right but they said most people got it wrong then it doesn't apply to you but if they say something went terrible and you think you're included because you were fuzzy on the question then there ya go.

I think you mean the examiner's report. Yup, it exists. It's written for every exam session from the candidates' overall results.

I agree that the IB's grading system is a disgrace. Having such a closed system totally defeats their purpose of cultivating 'critical-thinking learners' and whatnot. And it's not only the obscure grading system. On top of it, IB lacks quality control and adequate proofreading in terms of the questions in the papers. If you look at the papers from each year and compare the mark schemes for similar questions, you'll see that they're often very inconsistent, especially in Chemistry papers. Sometimes a mark will be given for mentioning a certain point in a question one year, but the next year, not! A lot of teachers at our school are aware of this, too. I always joke with my Physics teacher that our class should write a letter to IB.

*sigh* Every time I spot inconsistencies in IB past papers, I think to myself: someday I'll write a long letter to IB...

Edit: And another thing about the quality of the questions - they're meant to be done by students worldwide, whose mother tongue might not necessarily be English. Naturally you'd assume that they would try to word the questions as clearly and concisely as possible. It's totally not the case with some questions. And what's more, often the questions refer to things that might be less common outside of the Western sphere, and so they're more difficult to understand for students who live in, say, Asia.

Edited by ninety

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Guest Red XII

I agree entirely. I'm of the opinion that it's rather silly to test students and give them scores without giving any feedback as to why they got those scores. We don't participate in the IB program to receive a brief list of scores. Rather, we participate in the IB program to receive an education.

Part of receiving a quality education involves testing, but testing is pointless unless students are given feedback detailing how well they did, where they went wrong, and how to improve. There is no point taking a test unless you're told how you can do better (or at least told what you did wrong so that you can figure out how to correct it).

Ultimately, tests are best used as yet another teaching tool. We shouldn't be taking tests just to demonstrate our ability. We should be taking tests to demonstrate our ability and learn how we can improve it.

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