Thursday, 21 August 2014

No wonder the country's in trouble.

From the BBC:

Schools in England are braced for "volatile" GCSE results, following significant changes to the exam system.

Go on, why's that then?

This year's results will reveal the outcome of a much greater emphasis on exams at the end of the two-year course and a reduction in coursework and modular units.

Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, warned of "shocks in store" for some schools, depending on "how much they relied on gaming the old system".


Hooray, say all the people (like me) who like the white knuckle ride of the exam experience and look down on all this "coursework and modular units" nonsense, it's a recipe for favouritism and cheating, not to mention involving more work for pupils, not just cutting and pasting stuff off the internet, but sucking up to teacher all year long.

So it's not really "changes to the exam system", it's "a return to the exam system".

But wold this lead to "volatile" results?

We all assume that they give the top few per cent an A, the next few per cent a B and so on, just because they are doing proper exams again doesn't change that.

17 comments:

Sackerson said...

Gender. Coursework favours girls, who are more diligent and detailed; exams, boys, who grasp the central points more quickly.

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/20th-january-2001/12/how-exams-are-fixed-in-favour-of-girls

Mark Wadsworth said...

S, yes, a lot of people say that and it's probably true. It's certainly the impression I got.

Furor Teutonicus said...

I always, and still do, LOVE exams.

It is you against yourself and the marker.

Course work relies too much on the "weakest link."

I have to often seen, where a group that should have passed with flying colours have failed, because one of the group was a lazy bum, and just had not bothered to write up his/her notes, or similar.

If I fail, O.K. I have ot worked hard enough, but if I fail because of someone elses weakness, then I am about to get VERY miffey!

And you REALLY do not wish to experience a miffed Furor Teutonicus!

DBC Reed said...

Having once been a teacher, I have to say that coursework has the considerable advantage of making sex-and-violence crazed teenagers knuckle down and write loads of essays.( It must have been pointless with subjects like Maths-but Maths does not have much point anyway.) The exercise did make the students ponder why they were going wrong and try to up their skills a bit.All coursework marks were backed by at least 50% exam marks anyway ,which was a sensible balance.But sensible balances are not something that this country goes in for.So we get political interference by the thicky elite -who have the best qualifications money can buy.

Lola said...

Me too. Except. Did a Financial services exam on 'investments' some time ago - just for the Hell of it. One of the questions was - Give 6 reasons for the 2008 financial crisis. So I did. I did not pass. Apparently the truth was not what they were examining.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX DBC Reed said...

Having once been a teacher,XX

Did you forget your spaces after the full stops then, as well?

DBC Reed said...

@ FT
XX "I have to often seen, where a group..have failed." Enough mistakes there to fail you at O level, which is what we're heading back to, apparently.
I did not teach typing or keyboard skills (which in my day were for [female only] shorthand/typists).

paulc156 said...

As I understand it they are expecting somewhat more favourable results in many schools because fewer pupils will be sitting their exams a year early than in the past. This would tend to improve the overall standing of pupils who would tend to do better a year later in the exams rather than if they'd taken them earlier than scheduled.

That change has come about because of changes in the way so called 'league tables' are calculated. Presumably schools got themselves higher in the table the more kids they could put in for early exams and some engaged in 'gaming' the system in this manner more than others.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX DBC Reed said...

@ FT
XX "I have to often seen, where a group..have failed." Enough mistakes there to fail you at O level,XX

I have "O" levels (Totaly bloody useless, no one knows what they ARE these days, and all that waste of time to get CSE's... Laugh or puke, WHAT the HEL was THAT all about?) "Highers" (Scottish "A" levels) and two degrees. But then my Mother tongue is not English, YOURS, however is MEANT to be.

O.K. Back biting (sp? ...Touché :-D ) over.... (Hopefully... ;-) )

AS an ex teacher, how do you NOW see the CSE's, etc? I was only out of school for two years, and bosses were asking me "Whats THAT then!!??"

Is it worth getting these exams at ALL? Or should we go back to the "old" system, whereby the firm you apply to, test you at the interview stage?

Thoughts?

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX "Whats THAT then!!??XX

WITHOUT Apotrophé!

What's that.... Mea Culpa....

Dinero said...

> Mark

They haven't graded the exams in rank order of the candidates achievement since the 80s or 90s. Now the grade levels are set at a certain amount of marks.

Lola said...

FT, DBCR. Mrs Lola was a teacher for 30+ years - now escaped in blissful retirement. She will tell you how so much was wrong, but some was right (the improvement in teaching and learning for example). But as the years passed, and certainly from 1997, we increasingly referred to her as going to work in 'the state indoctrination centre'. The overall level of academic quality declined markedly just to get more and more A grade passes to give credence to Blair's stupid education education education meme.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX FT, DBCR. Mrs Lola was a teacher for 30+ years XX

Then I will apolgise for my inference. ;-) (And, yes, that was possibly ALSO misspelled.... :-D )

DBC Reed said...

Would have thought competition was the usual suspect .When faced with the prospect of crude comparisons, some schools only entered candidates into GCE's when they could be certain they would pass.Plenty of borderline candidates were "guided" (there was something called "guided choice"!!)into doing CSE (see FT above).They were hopping mad.
Competition via League tables was/is surely misplaced .You would not get steamed up if passes in the Driving Test went down or did not go up surreally.
PS What subjects did "First_Class Mind" Cameron take at A level?
As I said, coursework was largely a matter of keeping "them" occupied with some self-educative benefits which became apparent only once it got started.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX When faced with the prospect of crude comparisons, some schools only entered candidates into GCE's when they could be certain they would pass.Plenty of borderline candidates were "guided" (there was something called "guided choice"!!)into doing CSE (see FT above). XX

I am talking about 1975 to about 1979 here. We were "streamed". I was "middle", it could go any which way but loose. Every one took the CSEs. Those that did well enough were "invited" to do GCE's ("O" level (?)), then if you were REALLY lucky, and did well at rugby and cricket, you MAY be invited to taker "A" levels. ( Note NO ONE who did not play in the school rugby or cricket, at a pinch, football teams, got anywhere NEAR "A" level in the towns schools those days. I think the teachers were all into "boys in shorts.") So your comment about "Only entering when sure" is correct. (In MY school. Whether it was the same in all, I do not know.) But there were diffinately "Favourites" as well.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Those that did well enough were "invited" to do GCE's XX

I am talking about the "mock exams here."

Bayard said...

"But as the years passed, and certainly from 1997, we increasingly referred to her as going to work in 'the state indoctrination centre'."

Very much my impression, too reinforced by the fuss over parents taking their children out of school during term time. Also "free state childcare".