GCSE scoring: #fail

The school examination system is fundamentally broken: the way in which marks map to grades is wrong.

This year, the percentage of GCSE passes increased for the 23rd year running.  While the percentage of A*–C grades increased by two percentage points from last year—to 69.1%.  Meanwhile, the A-level pass rate increased for the 28th successive year.  (They last  decreased on the same date as compact discs were released in Germany!)  And 29.9% of those sitting the exam achieved an A* in Mathematics (Further).

In my view, the percentage of entrants in a subject achieving each grade should stay static year-on-year.  So, for example, 16% of Maths entrants should be awarded an A grade.  Period.

Only through evolution are we becoming more intelligent as a species.  And the rate at which evolution, er, evolves is sufficiently small for it not to affect exam results across a generation or so.  As such, a gradual increase in people’s success in exams merely serves to penalise the old, at the same time making it more and more difficult for prospective employers, universities and the like to differentiate between pupils.

If a paper is easier than last year’s then by maintaining proportions as proposed above, the mark necessary to achieve a certain grade is pushed higher.  I’d be happy for the percentages to change from one subject to the next—one may choose for a higher proportion of English exams to score well.  But changing them year-on-year serves no purpose whatsoever.

Seems simple to me.  So why so hard for the politicians?

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One Response to “GCSE scoring: #fail”

  1. The role of Ofsted in schools : Tangential Ramblings on February 24th, 2014 06:01

    […] As I’ve said previously, this needs to change. The proportion of students achieving each grade in a given subject should be fixed year on year. Students should be evaluated against their peers. This is the only way in which grades can become meaningful again. If I received the CVs of two people, one of whom attained five As, three Bs and two Cs; and one of whom had ten As, I am unable to meaningfully compare them unless I know which year in which they took their exams. And even if I was armed with that information, I wouldn’t have sufficient information to be able to discern which candidate had performed better. […]

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