Friday, August 24, 2012

Not nearly harshly enough.

The whingers are out in force over the last couple of days complaining about the GCSE exam results being marked far too harshly. After all in scenes reminiscent of the old Soviet Unions tractor production stats higher grades were being achieved every year without fail despite the claims of employers that kids coming to them for jobs were unable to do basic literature or mathematics. Nor did anyone with any sense believe kids were getting smarter, which just left the unpalatable fact that exams were getting easier.
More than two decades of GCSE grade inflation ground to a halt yesterday, provoking a furore as school heads claimed results had been ‘fixed’.
As top-grade passes fell for the first time in the exam’s history, it emerged that exam boards ‘manipulated’ grading in English at the last minute to make it harder for pupils to pass.
Furious teachers claimed that thousands of pupils unfairly missed out on a C grade in English – which is often a minimum requirement for taking A-levels, going to university and landing a good job. As many as 10,000 are thought to have been affected. Schools are now expected to lodge record numbers of exam appeals in an attempt to avoid slipping down the league tables.
The situation has echoes of the 2002 A-level grading fiasco which saw scores of teenagers unfairly downgraded as boards attempted to restrain the number of top grades.
Thing is, we want these exams to be tough, we want only the brightest and best to progress, we want our kids to be able to read, write and do maths and the system in place was failing them. They were the ones facing employers or universities and having to do catch up courses for stuff they really should have known at age eleven (or even earlier) Yes, the exams might have been marked more harshly, but in this year any kid with good grades knows that they'll have earned it a bit more than the previous year. Exams need to be tough, they should stretch kids memory and deductive powers and 60%+ of kids getting top rates suggests that the exams are either not tough enough or that the system is/was fixed to continually increase the percentage getting the higher grades. Nor did the introduction of the A* grade give any confidence in the system, after all if they had to tack an extra grade on top, it meant that the exam itself was far too easy. In my days getting a top grade from a good exam board was very difficult indeed, only 1% of the intake normally managed it, not the 8% of recent years. That 1% pretty much were the ones who stayed on for 6th form and A levels, the rest of us found jobs, it was easy enough we were pretty much all literate and numerate after all. Though jobs were easier to find too in the way of apprenticeships etc and didn't require ridiculous academic qualifications for that matter either, much of the training happening on the job.
The education system and its tinkering with by the all must have prizes do gooders has badly let our kids down, it might take generations to repair the damage assuming it's possible at all.
Harder exams and tougher marking is simply a start.

3 annotations:

JuliaM said...

Hear hear!

Humph said...

People who got straight A's in my day were weirdoes, generally speaking. And they were few and far between.

The introduction of 'coursework' seems to have had a large part to play in all this. God I wish I'd had the option to score as you go rather than having it down to a 3 hour all-or-nothing exam.

The same has happened across the board as well. I have 2 professional quals which used to require numerous exam passes at each stage before you could progress to the next - pass 3 and fail 1 meant you had to re-take the whole lot. Now you can just pick and choose 1 or 2 exams and do them as and when you feel like it.

As you say, kids can clearly not become exponentially smarter year in year out. Teaching has demonstrably not become that much better. There are not huge amounts of more kids going to private schools. State schools are as under resourced as they ever were. And time and time again we hear from business employers how young recruits can't string a sentence together or work out a percentage of something.

The inevitable conclusion is that the system was fixed before, and now is going some way back towards a semblance of reality (though still has a long way to go). For the teaching profession to now start saying that this year's results are fixed is fucking laughable. But you'd expect nothing less from the leftie cretins who infest that profession.

banned said...

^ deleted for corrrection

@Humph My city is awash with roaming gangs of girls, most of them claiming to be unemployed hairdressers.
The reason for this is that they spend two years at (6th form) College learning hairdressing by coursework ie teach, exam, forget emerging with what is claimed to be an "Apprenticeship" in their chosen trade.

Sadly hair salon Supremeos regard these as worse than useless since they instill the girls with ideas of worth above their station and would rather take a trainee fresh off the streets and without any bad habits to start with.