UK NARIC Benchmarking Statement
In response to concerns initiated by a former pupil of an Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) school, related correspondence in the press and on social networking sites; and approaches that have been made directly to UK NARIC and to MPs, qualifications and examinations regulators, education Departments of the countries in the UK and others, UK NARIC would like to make the following statement:
Four taught subjects:
In 2008, UK NARIC was commissioned to undertake a benchmarking study which examined the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curricula and the qualifications offered by the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) taught in Mauritius. The study considered four ICCE subjects: Maths, Chemistry, English and History. Given the international focus of the awards, NARIC deemed Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) qualifications the most suitable independent benchmark for comparison (CIE were not involved in the study themselves).
UK NARIC findings demonstrated that, despite the acknowledged differences in modes of learning, the ICCE qualifications compared broadly to CIE O and A levels with regard to their learning outcomes and knowledge competencies.
In respect of concerns at the time, UK NARIC made clear that the units examined did not include references to the Loch Ness monster or apartheid and the false claims made against UK NARIC could not be substantiated.
In 2011, UK NARIC was approached by ICCE Ltd to review broad subject areas and learning outcomes of ICCE qualifications, not ACE curricula, exclusively, as it has been claimed. The ICCE qualifications that were examined as part of the project are baccalaureate style awards that are partly based on the ACE curriculum, but they also include compulsory assessed elements such as coursework, essay assignments and project work which are supplemental to the ACE material. In-depth analysis of these elements formed a key part of the overall evaluation of the ICCE qualifications (see also note 1).
Using UK NARIC’s methodology for benchmarking qualifications, which is founded on internationally recognised key principles of credential evaluation, the study involved analyses of the qualifications’ core components in terms of learning outcomes, content, duration, modes of learning and assessment and quality assurance measures. Examination of programme delivery in the UK was integral to the project, involving organised site visits to a number of schools and home-schools. This provided an excellent opportunity both to observe the quality of delivery in the UK as well as to monitor the moderation and quality assurance procedures in place in both contexts.
The work confirmed that overall the baccalaureate-style ICCE qualifications compare well with the highly-regarded CIE qualifications. The study highlighted strengths within the ICCE programme whilst also presenting areas for improvement, whether through supplementing current course materials or considering alternative curriculum, for certain subjects. These recommendations, along with more general suggestions for development have been communicated to ICCE as part of the project.
In particular, as part of this later study some issues were observed with the Biology programme, which were reported back to ICCE with recommendations on the redevelopment of certain aspects of the programme to ensure closer comparability with the academic level of A and O level qualifications.
It is important to note that the intention of this study was to examine whether the programmes are broadly comparable, whilst recognising the key differences between the awards, and not to establish direct equivalence. As a Baccalaureate-style programme rather than
single-subject qualifications, assessment provided is based on the overall level of the ICCE and not on a subject-for-subject basis.
As a commissioned report to ICCE, UK NARIC are therefore not in a position to disclose any detailed content without the client’s consent. However, given the level of interest in the ICCE awards by universities and employers, and with permission from ICCE, an information section on the ICCE qualifications and the ACE curricula has been included in UK NARIC’s International Comparisons database, which may be accessed by registered users.
No further comments can be provided.
1. The ICCE qualifications involve a substantial, but not exclusive use, of ACE curriculum materials with students also able to obtain credit for studies using curriculum for languages and Biology from other established examination boards and providers. Study guides to be used with other non-ACE curriculum materials for certain subjects are also envisaged in the future. ICCE have developed the curriculum components of each of the ICCE qualifications to include individual and group learning activities, and crucially, compulsory extended essays and projects designed to develop and test higher order thinking skills.
2. Both in the UK and globally, UK NARIC offers expert advice and consultancy services to a wide range of clients in the field of vocational, academic and professional education, including international qualifications providers such as ICCE. Using specialist knowledge, we analyse qualifications to establish how they compare with recognised national and international standards. Our evaluation and recognition of programmes involves an unbiased, systematic examination of qualification design, assessment and quality assurance mechanisms.
3. Any further enquiries about ICCE qualifications and ACE curricula should be addressed to these bodies,as appropriate.