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Oxford releases Safety Net Policy for remote assessments

The University of Oxford has released its examination ‘Safety Net Policy’ this morning. This policy has been made for subjects where remote assessments are taking place in Trinity 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The policy “aims to reduce the risk that students may be disadvantaged by the conditions in which they revise for and sit their exams in the exceptional circumstances of the CV-19 pandemic.”

The safety net policy works under the condition that individual students pass their remote assessment.

Overall, this policy gives faculties the choice of how results are calculated, with the option to exclude or adjust the weighing of results obtained in remote assessments. The policy varies depending on degree course and extent of previous summative assessment completed.

The University ensures that “all marks will appear on the transcript, with appropriate explanatory text”, regardless of the safety net choices.

However, the University informs that formative assessments (i.e tutorial work) will not be taken into consideration when calculating final results. Only summative assessments completed prior to the end of Hillary Term (‘banked assessments’) or taken remotely in Trinity Term will be used to calculate final grades and degree classifications. It explains that “evidence from formative parts of the course is not sufficiently rigorous or consistent to be used for summative purposes.”

The policy divides subjects into two subject groups: courses which have already completed at least 50% of summative assessments before the end of Hilary Term, and those that have not. The two groups will have differing safety net arrangements.

For those who have completed at least 50% of assessments, faculties will have the option to either include or exclude remote assessments results in the calculation of their overall grade, depending on individual choice and circumstance.

For those with less on-course summative assessments, the faculty will have the choice between calculating results using all assessments (including remote Trinity assessments), or using an “adjusted algorithm”. If choosing the “adjusted algorithm” there will be five further options depending on individual circumstances of exams. These 5 “adjusted algorithm” options are:

  1.  “double-weighing” of the results of assessments completed before the end of Hillary;
  2. “adjusted weighing” of Trinity Term remote assessments;
  3. discounting lowest marks achieved in Trinity remote assessments;
  4. scaling of marks in particular papers taken remotely;
  5. adjusting class boundaries

Dissertations could be counted as a ‘banked subject’ as the bulk of work is undertaken prior to the end of Hillary, though the official deadline was after. This will be decided at each subject’s discretion.

However, clause 9 of the policy states that “in exceptional cases … subjects have the right to deem that no further safety net is necessary.”

In addition, all students will submit a “pro forma statement” detailing their home conditions to the examiners. Moreover, students can submit Mitigating Circumstances notices, as in any year, if they have been particularly severely impacted this year.

For more information visit their website.

Photo Credit: Ellie Wilkins

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