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RAD exam results enquiry or appeal


DanceTeacher
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Hello dance teachers,

 

I have just received the results from the RAD for a group of Inter. F I entered back in November. Naturally, live classes cannot be replaced by Zoom but I have to say I was very disappointed. I wasn't expecting all students to get high distinctions (especially given the circumstances) but they had 3 zoom classes per week plus all the work we had done before lockdown. I felt they were very well prepared as they were going to do this exam back in March but we went into the first lockdown and they missed it. The results were three low merits and one high merit.

Looking at their results most of the marks are the same for each candidate. Mostly 6/10. They all have very different bodies, sense of performance etc. so I find it very strange that most of the marks in almost every section are the same.

One of them was a clear Distinction (she always gets a distinction and has a good physique for classical ballet) and got 71/100. 

I was wondering if it is worth asking for an appeal or complaining about it. I don't know if anyone has ever done that before (I feel it will be a total waist of time and money) but I would really appreciate some feedback.

I have been entering students for RAD and ISTD exams for many years and roughly I know what to expect each time but these results don't represent the students.

 

Thank you in advance!

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I have been there - as a parent but I wrote the appeal submission. Here is my two cents worth:

 

I believe you (or the parent involved) are best to consider this at the individual level.  If that includes a number of students, then so be it.

 

1. Is the student's mark more than 10% away from what you could reasonably expect?

So, for example, the latest mark compared to the student's previous RAD exam results.  Anything less could be put down to the subjective nature of the process and is too hard to argue.  There will always be a level of, large but acceptable variation.

 

2. Approach this in a formal manner. In the first instance speak to the RAD office you dealt with.  Give them feedback and a chance to respond. The next step, if you have no luck/wish to proceed, is a formal complaint submission .  This may be the local office OR potentially RAD Head Office, UK.  Ballet schools, teachers and families pay a lot of money to do RAD training/exams and this assessment is the culmination of a year's hard work (or more).  You expect the process to be as valid and reliable as possible. 

 

3. Present evidence for the appeal: 

-Previous exam marks and any progress in RAD competitions.  Other external assessments.   Any video of the student in action.

-Identify any possible problems in the process e.g. in a large ballet school the examinations may occur over weeks of all day sessions.  This is very hard on the examiner and fatigue will play a role.

 

4. The window for an appeal is very short and the process is many months.  By the time a response occurs, it is all last year's news.  

You are highly unlikely to get a new mark, or even a response, that will please you. 

 

5. You would be doing this to demonstrate to these student/s that you will not accept this mark without providing feedback to RAD.  You are showing the other students (where you don't make an appeal) that you understand and do tolerate a significant amount of variability in results without complaint.   Your reaction and words to the student means a lot.  In addition, the process and standards of an organisation will not improve if you the customer do not provide fair and courteous evidence-based feedback. 

 

I'm sorry this happened to you and the students!

 

 

Edited by DD Driver
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Just as an aside...💖

You mentioned your students' physiques for classical ballet.

RAD is examining technique, artistry and musicality. They are assessing against the set criteria.

The students physique will play a part in how they are received - of course - but I do not see it as the examiner's job to judge this element. Do you?

 

They are not assessing on behalf of a school or company and it's particular preferences or  today's trends.  Surely we all want to encourage students to progress through the levels, if possible.  It is not the RAD's place, or stated objective, to make a call on their body as they go through their teenage years.

 

There are many principal dancers that did not fit the mould.  Maria Kochetkova was told by the Bolshoi Ballet School (Moscow State Choreographic Academy) that she was too short in height and had other body issues...  She went to the PdL and enjoyed a successful career in other companies. 

 

 

 

Edited by DD Driver
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Thank you very much for your replies DD Driver. I really appreciate it. Yes, I have seen this video, it's lovey and so inspiring. 

 

The exam took place at Headquarters and my students were the 2nd group of the day, so the examiner had seen only one group before them. 

 

Unfortunately, as you say mostly likely I will not get another result and the whole process will take so long it will be pointless. I was just wondering if anyone had a similar experience. 

 

I think it's very difficult to give an accurate description of the students over the internet. But we spent a good two and a half years learning and preparing for the exam and did a lot of Zoom over the summer so they could stay in shape. Most students who take these exams don't have the perfect classical ballet physique. It's all about the training, the students understanding, progress, work ethic etc. As their teacher I feel we did give our best (if I can say that myself).

 

Again, for me it's not why they didn't get a 90/100 (past marks were way better than what they got this time). It's a vocational exam and as a teacher you have to be realistic. But giving every student pretty much the same mark makes me wonder if she was really paying attention to them. 

 

I am very sorry I don't mean to sound rude or ungrateful (especially considering what's going on in the world right now). 

 

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I don't think you sound rude or ungrateful!  They are not a charity, run by volunteers.  This is a standardised global exam.

 

If there is little or no variation in the marks for the elements between your students - and you know that there is considerable variation between them - then of course you are questioning the results.  Ballet is an Art and there will be different opinions but if technique is not objectively discernible - at all - then what is this all about?

 

All roads seem to lead back to this... the best way to get a sense of how you are doing is to participate in a range of assessment experiences.

Luckily my DD started doing Cecchetti exams in the same year as the dud mark.  It put everything back into perspective.  

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It’s worth asking if they’re wildly out but from my experience of looking at lots of students marks at our school, vocational grades bear no relation to any grade exam they might have done before. They’re almost always lower. And I’ve heard the same from other schools too. 

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DanceTeacher

We are in similar situation to you. Our students who took postponed vocational exams at HQ have received marks very much lower than anticipated and when compared with their previous vocational results. If anything, they had improved on their exam readiness from March. Increasingly, we are finding vocational marks are hard to predict. A couple of years ago when we did query a mark, it turned into a very protracted process. All four candidates (from different dancing schools) received marks up to 20 marks below what they had  received for their previous vocational exam. 

 

As the process was taking so much time and effort and the HQ responses we received were not very supportive, the students decided not to pursue it further but to draw a line under it and move on.  It certainly left a slightly sour taste especially as they know that they are stronger dancers than the cohort after them who were awarded higher marks by a different examiner. 

 

In recent years, we have found some of our AEC grade exam results surprising with confident dancers with questionable technique scoring far more highly than those with good solid understanding and demonstration but who are still developing their performance skills. In a handful of cases the students have facility and physique but certainly are a long way off using it correctly so my colleagues and I have been left scratching our heads at times with just marks and no comments being given these days. 🤔

 

Interestingly, there is a Google review from about a year ago raising similar concerns. 


We are mulling over what to do with the current results. 

Am a long time reader of this forum with over 20 years’ teaching experience and a number of students joining associate schemes and starting vocational training each year. 

 

Edited by LaCamargo
Clarity
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Thank you everyone for your replies. It's much appreciated.

 

LaCamargo thank you for letting me know. I was watching videos of my students when we did Zoom lessons and then going over every section of their marking, thinking  'am I going crazy here?'

 

Again, under no circumstances I was expecting high distinctions. But after 2.5 years of hard work (they studied three hours a week plus exam coaching) such low merits came as quite a shock!

 

I haven't decided yet either.

 

Edited by DanceTeacher
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I find it really frustrating and disappointing that no comments are given in exams. A bunch of numbers doesn't seem good enough feedback for exams that dancers work years for. 

 

My DD has nearly always been given the same mark out of 10 for all of the different sections and it has made me wonder how this can be an accurate reflection of her abilities when I know that she is stronger in some areas and weaker in others. 

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20 hours ago, Farawaydancer said:

It’s worth asking if they’re wildly out but from my experience of looking at lots of students marks at our school, vocational grades bear no relation to any grade exam they might have done before. They’re almost always lower. And I’ve heard the same from other schools too. 

 

Yes, that’s a really good point.  @DanceTeacher, when you say these marks are a lot lower than in previous exams, do you mean *these students* in their graded exams? Or other students that you’ve entered for Inter Foundation?

 

If the former, that’s to be expected because in my experience, Vocational Grades are technically more difficult than (especially the old) graded RAD exams and marked accordingly.  If the latter, even this is not unusual; I remember when the RAD Head of Exams changed around the time dd did her Intermediate and the teacher was surprised that all the marks were lower than expected.  She went to a feedback session at HQ and they had marked everyone “more stringently” than before.  As the girls had still got Merits, no appeal was entered.

 

How do these marks differ from your previous groups who have taken Inter Foundation?

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Anna C thank you for your message.

 

As a teacher you know roughly where each student falls (distinction, high merit, low merit, pass etc). I don't compare theses students with previous ones.

 

Based on the amount of work (2.5 years, 3 hours a week plus a lot of extra coaching) we did for this exam and yes, taking into consideration they are doing a vocational exam and not a grade, I believe they should have come out with higher marks. 

 

I do think it is very important to be objective and reasonable as a teacher. As I mentioned in a previous comment above, I wasn't expecting four high distinctions but they got very low merits which I cannot justify after so much work and attention to detail (free work prep, performance, music, use of space etc.). 

 

My original enquiry was if I should appeal or not however, reading other comments and based on other teachers' experience, I don't think it will lead anywhere.

 

All the best,

 

Edited by DanceTeacher
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My kids have received some very odd and uncharacteristic marks. Total marks have differed by 30% between grades. I don’t know, I think it’s subjective and the marking isn’t very standardised. How do you prove it after the exam though, especially with such a small group. If you had 30 students and they all experienced the same it would be easier. Would they want to retake the exam?

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With any appeal, I think it is worth considering ...what is to be gained?

 

Will it make a difference to these students' future careers if their grades are increased?  

 

If so - maybe it is worth considering.  If not - maybe it is better to accept it as a quirk of the bizarre times we live in and move on to the next stage in their training (which I'm sure they have already done anyway).

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It does depend what the students plan to do but Phyllis Bedells, for example requires distinction in intermediate and Ad1. The Fonteyn requires distinction in Ad1 and 2 so if these comps are to be considered then results do matter.
It is still worth registering an appeal as there is nothing to lose by doing so. Other students may have appealed if marks were very stringent.

 

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No easy answers!

I would just add that, in our case:  it was quite emotional for my DD to be told by her studio that the faculty unanimously voted not to accept the RAD result she was given.  They would appeal it, even though they knew nothing was likely to come of it.  That was gold.

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Watching this with interest. 
I applied for a result enquiry (just a more detailed report rather than an appeal) for my last exam and I did find it very helpful. There were very specific comments from the examiner that made a lot of sense with hindsight. 
I have heard several stories of much reduced results compared to what was expected with the video exams. For this reason I have held myself back from doing an exam that I probably really should be done with by now. 

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Thank you to everyone for your feedback. It's been a great help to me.

 

For the time being, I think I will continue with free work and not enter any candidates for exams.

 

I haven't given the results to my students yet. I wanted to reflect on the situation and get some feedback from other teachers first. However, I will leave it to each student if they wish to have a result enquiry. 

 

On a final note the whole thing has left a very bad taste in my mouth....

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On 13/01/2021 at 19:44, glowlight said:

With any appeal, I think it is worth considering ...what is to be gained?

 

Will it make a difference to these students' future careers if their grades are increased?  

 

If so - maybe it is worth considering.  If not - maybe it is better to accept it as a quirk of the bizarre times we live in and move on to the next stage in their training (which I'm sure they have already done anyway).

 

On 13/01/2021 at 20:43, Mummy twinkle toes said:

It does depend what the students plan to do but Phyllis Bedells, for example requires distinction in intermediate and Ad1. The Fonteyn requires distinction in Ad1 and 2 so if these comps are to be considered then results do matter.
It is still worth registering an appeal as there is nothing to lose by doing so. Other students may have appealed if marks were very stringent.

 

 

All good points.  If it doesn’t cost anything to appeal, I’d probably do so - or at least ask for a detailed report - just for your own peace of mind, @DanceTeacher.  If nothing comes of it, and the marks don’t change, at least it’s “only” Inter Foundation, so doesn’t affect any future training/competitions.  

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On 14/01/2021 at 07:54, DeveloppeD said:

Watching this with interest. 
I applied for a result enquiry (just a more detailed report rather than an appeal) for my last exam and I did find it very helpful. There were very specific comments from the examiner that made a lot of sense with hindsight. 
I have heard several stories of much reduced results compared to what was expected with the video exams. For this reason I have held myself back from doing an exam that I probably really should be done with by now. 

 

@DeveloppeD how did you go about requesting a more detailed report? Was there a fee involved? I didn't know this was a thing you could do and wish I'd known a while ago, I would have been tempted to do it for all exams just to get some actual comments and direction to improve... 

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So do examiners always write comments etc in exams but you can only see what they have written if you pay extra? Seems a very odd system if so. Most of those comments will never get read so the dancers can't benefit from them.

 

It would be much more helpful if comments were included as standard. Festival adjudicators are able to write often quite detailed comments from only seeing each dancer for less than 2 minutes. Why can't an examiner write comments on dancers that they see for about half an hour? 

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15 minutes ago, Millicent said:

So do examiners always write comments etc in exams but you can only see what they have written if you pay extra? Seems a very odd system if so. Most of those comments will never get read so the dancers can't benefit from them.

 

It would be much more helpful if comments were included as standard. Festival adjudicators are able to write often quite detailed comments from only seeing each dancer for less than 2 minutes. Why can't an examiner write comments on dancers that they see for about half an hour? 

I've also always wondered about how exams and examiners are standardised. Do any exam boards offer the option of having exams filmed so that grading can be checked if there is an appeal?? If one of my a level students gets a grade that we are not happy with them we can see their paper and ask for another examiner to remark it. Ballet exams seem like a completely closed box. What's the point of seeing the examiners comments if you can't compare them with what the student actually did in the exam?? If the marks seem completely out of whack then the comments will do too and there's no way of checking.

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1 hour ago, PJW said:

I've also always wondered about how exams and examiners are standardised. Do any exam boards offer the option of having exams filmed so that grading can be checked if there is an appeal?? If one of my a level students gets a grade that we are not happy with them we can see their paper and ask for another examiner to remark it. Ballet exams seem like a completely closed box. What's the point of seeing the examiners comments if you can't compare them with what the student actually did in the exam?? If the marks seem completely out of whack then the comments will do too and there's no way of checking.

the RAD  certainly has Standards Examiners  who examine the examiners  iirc Lynne Reucroft-Croome ia  or was a Standards Examiner ( @sophie_rebecca would know ) 

 

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Both the bbo & IDTA give comments on the report. With some exam boards now doing digital exams you would think it would be easy to get all exams to be reviewed by a second examiner when there are results queries. I think the nature of dance boards is everyone knows everyone and they have to be seen to trust the original examiners decision so as not to cause offence. When I took my GCSE & A Level dance exams I had an examiner and it was recorded (going back quite a while now 👵🏻) I personally think all exams should be recorded it covers everyone that way.

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Our Ballet Teacher lodged an appeal a couple of years ago for all the students in one exam sitting.  As the majority of the marks given were way off previous marks for these students and results were no where near what she was expecting.  The result was that each child was given an adjusted mark and given an extra 4 marks.  From what I remember that’s all they could do.  I think this was due to appealing on behalf of all students instead of each child separately as I am sure there were two approaches to an appeal but one meant paying a fee for each child.  

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