IB Economics – new curriculum – The changes to assessment

This weekend I am at an IB Economics workshop discussing and dissecting the changes to the new curriculum, which will be implmented from the May 2013 exam session and onwards.. A shame is that the conference is in Singapore and a 10 minute taxi from my house. Gone are the days of workshops in exotic locations like Mumbai, Bali and Bangkok.

I will attempt to post my notes about the assessment changes. These is based on my personal thoughts. These are obviously not the formal IB information or guidelines, and I therefore urge anyone who reads this, to also spend a time reading the new guide which is available on the IB Online Curriculum Centre (OCC) and also consult the Economics forum within the OCC site.

External Assessment in Diploma Economics:

The allocation or marks, time and weightings has been changed for all for of the papers. I feel that the rational for this was to ensure that each part of the syllabus is clearly assessed. At the moment, so students will place more emphasis on certain parts of the content and try avoid the assessment in the final examinations.

Very simply….

Paper One for both HL and SL students will assess Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. They will be required for write two extended responses.

Paper Two for both HL and SL students will be use a data response format, but only assess the International Economics and Development Economics section of the syllabus.

Paper Three will be a HL assessment focused on the quantitative elements of the new curriculum and Achievement Objective 4: Select, use and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques.

More specifics… I have copied this into my new course outline.

IB Higher Level Assessment
External Assessment consists of three examinations worth 80%.

Paper 1 – 30% weighting – 1 hour 30 minutes
This paper consists of Section A and Section B written extended response questions, which will be in a Part A, Part B format.This will cover the Microeconomics and Macroeconomic sections of the syllabus.

Paper 2 – 30% weighting – 1 hour 30 minutes
A Section A and Section B data-response paper based on the International Trade and Development sections of the syllabus.  Each section is consists of two questions, of which students must chose one.

Paper 3 – 20% weighting – 1 hour
This is a Higher Level extension paper that assesses the quantitative aspect of the course. It covers elements of all part of the syllabus and is mainly short answer questions.

Internal Assessment consists of a portfolio of three commentaries worth 20%.

IB Standard Level Assessment
External Assessment consists of two examinations worth 80%.

Paper 1 – 40% weighting – 1 hour 30 minutes
This paper consists of Section A and Section B written extended response questions, which will be in a Part A, Part B format.This will cover the Microeconomics and Macroeconomic sections of the syllabus.

Paper 2 – 40% weighting –  1 hour 30 minutes
A Section A and Section B data-response paper based on the International Trade and Development sections of the syllabus.  Each section consists of two questions, of which students must chose one.

Internal Assessment consists of a portfolio of three commentaries worth 20%.

Implications: Will students take a modular approach to the examinations?

It will be interesting to see if students become more compartmentalized in their thinking in Economics. The course is supposed to be holistic, in that we encourage students to make links between different parts of the syllabus. Because the exam questions are now in discrete topics, students will be tempted to focus only on a particular topic at a time, and will perhaps not make the same links between topics such as Macro and Trade.

Students need to make reference to other areas of the syllabus, in all questions but especially in the evaluation element of a question. This will likely support the students achievement in the higher band descriptors.

For instance, a discussion of the monetary policy, should explain the flow on effects and potential changes to floating exchange rates which may influence the level of external stability and trade balances.

References to other parts will be awarded in Paper One and Paper Two. Although the question will not necessarily prompt students to do so.

Achievement Objectives in Diploma Economics:

This is one large change in the new curriculum. The following broad achievement objectives explain what the students are expected to follow, once that have been taught the content. They also establish what kind of questions will be assessed in the final examinations in conjunction with the command terms. For each of the achievement objectives a set of command terms are listed which provide guidance on the depth of understanding and treatment required by the students. Within the guide, their is a full glossary of what the command terms mean.

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specified content

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the common SL/HL syllabus
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of current economic issues and data
  • At HL only: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the higher level extension topics

Command Terms – Define Describe List Outline State

2. Demonstrate application and analysis of knowledge and understanding

  • Apply economic concepts and theories to real-world situations
  • Identify and interpret economic data
  • Demonstrate the extent to which economic information is used effectively in particular contexts
  • At HL only: Demonstrate application and analysis of the extension topics

Command Terms – Analyse, Apply, Comment, Distinguish, Explain, Suggest

3. Demonstrate synthesis and evaluation

  • Examine economic concepts and theories
  • Use economic concepts and examples to construct and present an argument
  • Discuss and evaluate economic information and theories
  • At HL only: Demonstrate economic synthesis and evaluation of the extension topics

Command Terms – Compare, Compare and contrast, Contrast, Discuss,     Evaluate, Examine, Justify To what extent

4. Select, use and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques

  • Produce well-structured written material, using appropriate economic terminology, within specified time limits
  • Use correctly labelled diagrams to help explain economic concepts and theories
  • Select, interpret and analyse appropriate extracts from the news media
  • Interpret appropriate data set
  • At HL only: Use quantitative techniques to identify, explain and analyse economic relationships

Command Terms – Calculate, Construct, Derive, Determine, Draw, Identify, Label, Measure, Plot, Show, Show that, Sketch, Solve

Implications: How can teachers use these command terms?

Teachers can use these command terms to set practice questions in Economics and always use these command terms in the everyday language of the classroom. The glossary will be an important guide for students can could be used to make posters around the classroom. You could link them to Bloom’s Taxomony to show the progression in the command terms from each achievement objective and the thinking skills required in the examinations.

The fourth achievement objective is very new and will be the big focus of higher level students in Paper 3. Paper There will be assessed using AO1, AO2 and AO4 only.

Internal Assessment in Diploma Economics:

In my opinion this part of the course has been tidied up and simplified. Students are now required to write only three commentaries and the assessment criteria have been changed.

Each commentary is assessed in its entirety using the new criteria giving 14 marks per commentary. There are an additional 3 marks given to students once the entire portfolio has been submitted and assessed. Teachers can now mark each final draft throughout the year and then pull the portfolio together at the end and make a judgement on the final holistic criteria.

Criteria A – Diagrams: (3 marks)
Criteria B – Terminology (2 marks)
Criteria C – Application of economic concepts and theories (2 marks)
Criteria D – Analysis of economic concepts and theories (3 marks)
Criteria E – Evaluation (4 marks)

Total: 14 marks per commentary (x3) plus Criteria F: (3 marks)

Criteria F: Rubric requirement – assessed across the portfolio, for word counts, sections of the syllabus, different and appropriate sources, date of publication and cover sheets included.

Again evaluation is the most important criteria and makes up 12/42 marks or 30% of final grade. Evaluation is now defined as “the extent to which the student synthesizes his or her analysis in order to make judgments supported by reasoned arguments”

Other criteria such as Criteria B – Terminology are importantly different than the previous syllabus. Students are now rewarded for the extent to which they use appropriate terminology in the commentary. Previously they were given marks for the precise definition of the term, and purely using definitions. This was up to 5 marks and is now only worth 2 marks out of 14 per commentary.

A rule of thumb should probably be two diagrams which are explained, used, coherent and integrated into the students analysis. This relates to Criteria A – Diagrams.

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11 thoughts on “IB Economics – new curriculum – The changes to assessment

  1. Faiq IB09/11 says:

    hye, i;m from malaysia
    will sitting for may 2011 for my final exam.
    why there’s no sayings about this changes of the assessment in my school?

    i have some question to ask..
    when will this new assessment be applied?
    which assessment will they use for our final exam this year?

    • Andrew McCarthy says:

      Sorry I have added dates to the above post. The first examination session for the new curriculum will be December 2012 and May 2013. Make sure you keep up to date with the Online Curriculum Centre – OCC to check out the new changes and read the excellent forum.

  2. Josie Aston says:

    Hi Andrew,

    This is a really interesting and informative post – thanks so much. I’m just starting teaching Economics at IB for the first time this September. I am finding the OCC site a bit confusing — do you know if there is a comparison of the new and old syllabuses on there somewhere? And where is the Economics blog?

    If you could point me in the right direction I’d be really grateful.

    Best wishes,

    Josie

    • Andrew McCarthy says:

      Hi, glad you found my blog. The OCC site is a bit confusing but the key documents are really the new guide which you can download. There are lots of hints within the forum which is linked from the same OCC Econ page. I never found a direct comparision, of what was in and what was out. If you have other questions just post something on the forums. The facilitator is really good and prompt at answering questions.

      Hope this helps and little but the changes might be a bit daunting. Make sure you splash out and get a range of the updated textbooks. This will probably be the best guide for most teachers.

      Andrew

      • Rodrigo Telles says:

        Thanks for the post Andrew,

        My name is Rodrigo Telles and we did the online examiner training together. How did you do?

        I am getting ready to start my new cohort and your post was very informative. I didn’t go to any conference and/or training for the new curriculum and I will be following the forums at OCC very closely.

        Good luck with the new year and drop me a line if you wish.

        Best,

        Rodrigo Telles

    • Andrew McCarthy says:

      I think it is different than the old exams and yes it will be harder for some students who could pre-prepare essays for an exam. On the other hand it will favor students who perhaps have a better grasp of the subject. Will be interesting to come back to your question in a few years at the next review.

      I hope you have seen the sample papers available from within the IB Online Curriculum Centre? If not ask your IB Coordinator to link you up with another teacher at a different school.

      Thanks Andrew.

  3. Emilia Drogaris says:

    Andrew, do you have any idea what the grade breakdown will be for the new assessments? I just gave a practice paper 3 and I do not know what a seven might be and it is making it very difficult to curve on my own. Is this information published/approximated anywhere?
    thank you so much,
    Emilia
    IB Economics Teacher
    Athens Greece

    • Andrew McCarthy says:

      Hi,

      Sorry about the belated reply. In short, no I don’t know what the specific breakdown will be for P3. But, you can always look at the percentage breakdowns from last years exam and then work backwards. If the new Paper 3 (or what you gave the students as practice is out of 45 then just use the percentages as your grade breakdowns. You could use the percentages from HL P2 in the old exams as this might be the best proxy for the new papers. Keen to hear what other people think?

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