Rise in degree grades not inflation - actually better prepared at A Level? Watch

Captain Jack
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I find this article interesting http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25811702

It goes against all other stories in the press to say that the rise in degree grades (70% above a 2:2) is in fact because students are better prepared at A Level. I always think the press and organisations are too quick to say things are getting easier rather than students are getting better.
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r_u_jelly
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It is fact due to the rise of degrees such as media studies and less students taking sciences and engineering. BBC is a poor website, don't rely solely on it.
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PQ
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(Original post by Captain Jack)
I find this article interesting http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25811702

It goes against all other stories in the press to say that the rise in degree grades (70% above a 2:2) is in fact because students are better prepared at A Level. I always think the press and organisations are too quick to say things are getting easier rather than students are getting better.
70% 1st and 2i you mean? "above a 2ii implies the 2iis are included).

This is up from 2010/11 when the UK average was 61% 1st and 2i.
(Original post by r_u_jelly)
It is fact due to the rise of degrees such as media studies and less students taking sciences and engineering. BBC is a poor website, don't rely solely on it.
As with A levels science and engineering students are MORE likely to get high degrees (in 10/11 it was ~ 73% 1sts and 2is) and media less likely (in 10/11 only 53% got 1sts and 2is).

Growing numbers of "degrees such as media studies" would generally lead to a drop in the proportion of good degrees awarded.
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Captain Jack
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(Original post by PQ)
70% 1st and 2i you mean? "above a 2ii implies the 2iis are included).

This is up from 2010/11 when the UK average was 61% 1st and 2i.
I'd say that was "2:2 and above", not "above a 2:2". In any case, yes, it's 70% with a 1st or a 2:1.
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PythianLegume
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The report doesn't seem to investigate the causes of A-Level inflation. If the better results at A-Level are due to grade inflation rather than better prepared students, that would seem to invalidate their conclusion (admittedly I haven't read the report - it's possible and probably like that they considered this). Also, I agree with what someone said in the comments; with more and more people going to university, it's more important than ever to try hard and get a good classification.
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PQ
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(Original post by Captain Jack)
I'd say that was "2:2 and above", not "above a 2:2". In any case, yes, it's 70% with a 1st or a 2:1.
I know it's technically right I just thought it's worth clarifying as it can be misinterpreted (ie talking about A level or GCSE grades it is standard to say "grades A* to C" or "grade C and above" not "grades above D" even though all three statement refer to the same thing )
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Captain Jack
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(Original post by PQ)
I know it's technically right I just thought it's worth clarifying as it can be misinterpreted (ie talking about A level or GCSE grades it is standard to say "grades A* to C" or "grade C and above" not "grades above D" even though all three statement refer to the same thing )
Ah, I see what you mean. Thank you
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Captain Jack
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(Original post by PQ)
This is up from 2010/11 when the UK average was 61% 1st and 2i.

As with A levels science and engineering students are MORE likely to get high degrees (in 10/11 it was ~ 73% 1sts and 2is) and media less likely (in 10/11 only 53% got 1sts and 2is). Growing numbers of "degrees such as media studies" would generally lead to a drop in the proportion of good degrees awarded.
Two really interesting facts - I didn't know that the number had risen by that much nor that media degrees are less likely to see 1sts and 2:1s. I have to admit I just assumed (wrongly) that the opposite would be true.

(Original post by PythianLegume)
The report doesn't seem to investigate the causes of A-Level inflation. If the better results at A-Level are due to grade inflation rather than better prepared students, that would seem to invalidate their conclusion (admittedly I haven't read the report - it's possible and probably like that they considered this). Also, I agree with what someone said in the comments; with more and more people going to university, it's more important than ever to try hard and get a good classification.
I guess in that article it's saying that A Levels are preparing students better rather than seeing higher grades overall.
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Fortitude
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I also think that A-levels being modular (up until now of course) may have an effect on studying at Uni because to begin with, A-levels were linear & at Uni, most if not all courses have an aspect of coursework or being examined throughout the year and some Jan exams, therefore the modular system of A-levels which we had would probably have prepared students better for managing workload etc. I know it certainly helped me as I was used to revising through Xmas for Jan exams, so when we had Jan exams at Uni, it was no big difference but again it's probably also due to the fact that more people are going to Uni, job requirements etc. So it's probably not just one factor, but many as so much has changed.
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jelly1000
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Afraid I can't agree with that, I came to university with BBB after retaking, most of my peers on the modules I took got AAB-ABB first time round (I do International Relations and took modules not only in Politics but also History and American Studies) yet I've still done just a well if not better than them, especially in the coursework. I can believe many of the comments on the article about lecturers being pressurised to give students good grades and also that some students do work harder than they might otherwise have done.
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Old_Simon
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Yup. This is the problem with moving goal posts. Eg: Widespread perception ( maybe unfounded) Maths A level is easier. Government response: Dumb it down - lower grade thresholds. Student response: Do Further Maths. Uni Response: Increase offers and look for 4/5 A levels plus secondary skill eg sport/choir/acting but don't announce it.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Old_Simon)
Yup. This is the problem with moving goal posts. Eg: Widespread perception ( maybe unfounded) Maths A level is easier. Government response: Dumb it down - lower grade thresholds. Student response: Do Further Maths. Uni Response: Increase offers and look for 4/5 A levels plus secondary skill eg sport/choir/acting but don't announce it.
No real sign of the highlighted.

Effectively universities are committed to the three A level offer by the fact that some schools will not permit more. 4 or 5 years ago, there was a move to personalise offers so that people doing larger numbers of A levels got offers related to them but if anything that trend has stopped. I think that is for two reasons.

Firstly oddly, the growth of Fair Access. If you need to give the government statistics, then you need simple data that supports your narrative. A collection of atypical offers defeats that. Secondly, the abolition of student number controls for ABB+ students means that it is more of a buyer's market for those students. Make a seriously unattractive offer and students will go elsewhere.

The extra-curricular admission is virtually dead except for those joining elite Olympic/professional sports programmes which some universities host. There are a whole variety of reasons for this but I suspect many of them boil down to academics having little interest in their university as a corporate whole rather than as a place providing them with a living and an opportunity to conduct their own research.

Rather, university reaction has been about, Oxbridge aside, the relentless upwards movement of grades which government has indulged by invention of the A* grade and when that won;t achieve enough of a cull, the development of the cult of the personal statement. Teenagers are expected to demonstrate or feign an undying academic interest in whatever subject they are applying for and in some cases (medicine particularly) demonstrate a commitment to the subject to be studied by many hours of unpaid labour.
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Old_Simon
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Your observations on undying commitment and unpaid labour are very pertinent from what I have seen. I didn't say uni's made 4/5 a level offers, I simply observe that many more able students are taking more, and those same students end up at top unis. Oxbridge students are typically in the 580 / 600 UCAS points range. Another side effect of grade creep is entrance exams eg STEP. I also have observed over many years that truly academic people often have a second string to their bow - sport, music, art or drama. These people also gravitate to better universities. It is surely not a random event that Cambridge fields a number of very high quality choirs. Yet those second tier skills are not reflected in offers or statistics. My point was that where grade inflation occurs that there is inevitably some type of second order effect.
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Robbie242
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More availability of resources for exam preparation could be a contributing factor, the internet is always expanding
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Moosferatu
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(Original post by r_u_jelly)
It is fact due to the rise of degrees such as media studies and less students taking sciences and engineering. BBC is a poor website, don't rely solely on it.
Because what we really need is a market flooded with mediocre science and engineering students instead of mediocre humanities and social sciences students. Nevermind addressing the whole flawed system that tries to get everyone into university regardless of the cost.
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Observatory
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The Lancaster study argues that improvements in degree grades are in line with the rising quality of the intake, as shown by A-level grades.
It sounds like they are taking higher A level grades as ipso facto proof of better preparation. The elephant in the room is that A level grades may also be inflating.
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Old_Simon
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The thing is that even if more people get first class degrees there has been no discernible increase in the gross number of jobs available for them so employers will need to find another way to slice the cohort. The problem with that approach is that non tangible - and hence unaccountable - factors can creep in. In some circumstances that diminishes fair access opportunities. In the long run grade inflation at A level and Degree level is pointless and self defeating.
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PythianLegume
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(Original post by Old_Simon)
Your observations on undying commitment and unpaid labour are very pertinent from what I have seen. I didn't say uni's made 4/5 a level offers, I simply observe that many more able students are taking more, and those same students end up at top unis. Oxbridge students are typically in the 580 / 600 UCAS points range. Another side effect of grade creep is entrance exams eg STEP. I also have observed over many years that truly academic people often have a second string to their bow - sport, music, art or drama. These people also gravitate to better universities. It is surely not a random event that Cambridge fields a number of very high quality choirs. Yet those second tier skills are not reflected in offers or statistics. My point was that where grade inflation occurs that there is inevitably some type of second order effect.
STEP is not a side effect of grade creep - Cambridge used to have STEP papers for many subjects, but have since removed them all except for Maths. Also, the top unis don't select for extra-curricular skills/hobbies. It's simply that the people who are very able and put a lot of effort into academia are also highly likely to do the same outside of school/learning hours.
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the bear
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(Original post by Captain Jack)
I find this article interesting http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25811702

It goes against all other stories in the press to say that the rise in degree grades (70% above a 2:2) is in fact because students are better prepared at A Level. I always think the press and organisations are too quick to say things are getting easier rather than students are getting better.
this culture of grades and exams is very judgemental. students should be valued as the beautiful individuals they are, not for the hoops they may or may not have jumped through.
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Old_Simon
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(Original post by PythianLegume)
STEP is not a side effect of grade creep - Cambridge used to have STEP papers for many subjects, but have since removed them all except for Maths. Also, the top unis don't select for extra-curricular skills/hobbies. It's simply that the people who are very able and put a lot of effort into academia are also highly likely to do the same outside of school/learning hours.
I think you are taking a rather narrow view of my observations. Nearly all university entrance is grade based hence the system of offers. Meet the grades and you are in. But even for very high offers eg A* A* A many more students can hit the grades than there are places at the top unis. Universities are therefore often choosing between, equally qualified candidates (at least in strictly academic terms as measure solely by exam results). How they then choose between them is rather less scientific than they would like us to believe in many cases. The reality is that higher numbers achieving higher grades, whether by dint of improving academic standards, or by grade inflation is self defeating. This position is then perpetuated by the "elite" universities maintaining a pre eminent and effectively monopoly position. We have expanding demand and strictly limited supply. It is becoming increasingly hard to justify as a way of allocating fairly degree level education.
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