Posted on 23rd August 2012
Two words that appear a lot in the middle of August: grade inflation.
Last week the A level results were published and today the GCSE results are released. Results days are mostly full of relief and celebration, although inevitably there are always some students who don’t get what they were hoping for when the dreaded envelope is opened. However, for many years now, results days have been somewhat damped by reports that exams are getting easier and that they ‘aren’t as tough as they used to be’.
This year the debate over how rigorous (or not) the exams are and whether they have been fairly marked (or not) rages stronger than ever; schools all over the UK are complaining that ‘students who sat GCSEs in English have been harshly marked down’ according to the BBC’s Jeevan Vasagar. It is well known that government is trying to restrict grade inflation, and there are concerns that students’ marks have been severely reduced in order to prevent further inflation.
Vasagar’s article reveals that a large number of teachers have told the Guardian that many students have received grades at least one band lower than what they were predicted and expecting. Currently only teachers have had access to the GCSE results, but in a few hours students will find out how they did, and sadly many students who took English will receive a disappointing shock.
Teachers across the country have been passionately discussing the results with each other and Richard Thomas, executive director of the Association of Secondary Headteachers in Essex said, “I started getting concerns from schools about English results, not just in schools in challenging areas, but in some outstanding schools and schools with more comprehensive intakes – results way down on what they would have expected.” There is currently a particularly active forum about the results on the Times Educational Supplement’s website, which you can access by clicking here.
This year’s problems appear to have arisen from the fact that teachers and students were working on the basis of previous boundaries, but examiners have marked the papers very differently this year. A spokesman for one of the exam boards has acknowledged that many grades are unexpected, but maintains that the marking criteria are still fair: “We understand that some students may have received results they have not anticipated and that this can be unsettling. We base our judgements on the quality of work we see in front of us, and we also draw on other data points, as stipulated by the regulatory framework, to ensure that the demands placed on students in each year to gain particular grades are consistent. Grade boundaries are therefore subject to change as we gain more information about the whole cohort performance, especially in a new specification.”
Since the results aren’t officially published for a few hours, there’s still plenty more GCSE stories to come no doubt. We’ll do a round up of the main issues tomorrow. In the meantime, we hope all EE tutees get what they were hoping for results-wise.