Turn on thread page Beta

"Increase in top grades at A-level" does it really mean exams are getting easier? watch

    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Howard)
    Actually they can't. You may well recall an article a year or so ago written by an Oxford Don in which he complained at having a dozen or more students who on paper at least were all perfect candidates (3 A's or whatever) for a particular degree and yet he had to make a decision based on a 10 minute interview. An Oxford Don is a scholar, not a professional interviewer.
    Interviewing is part of his job, so he should probably learn to be more effective at it. It's not that I don't sympathise with his position - I just think that if he was any good at assessing candidates then he'd be able to pick some good ones. That's why some interviewers are so brutal - they want to test you hard and make sure you've got the all-important common sense and ability to think on the spot. Maybe university admissions tutors should take compulsory courses in interviewing.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The_Myth Leader)
    It's not men's fault that they have the equipment required for raping.
    Oh, how I do love out of context quoting... :rolleyes: Very clever, Will. Be proud of yourself. Have a cookie [etc.]
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by TML)
    Oh, how I do love out of context quoting... :rolleyes: Very clever, Will. Be proud of yourself. Have a cookie [etc.]
    Oh... it's you. A bit of an outdated quotation, I know, but it wasn't taken out of context. When something else funny crops up, I'll replace it. I seem to remember that was an epic argument, but this is off-topic so I'll stop.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Oh... it's you. A bit of an outdated quotation, I know, but it wasn't taken out of context. When something else funny crops up, I'll replace it. I seem to remember that was an epic argument, but this is off-topic so I'll stop.
    Will, it is out of context and you know it. I was demonstrating that I don't want to be grouped with a lump of rapists in the media just because I have a penis - hence "it's not a man's fault that they have the equipment required for raping". If feminist arguments rely on this argument for words such as slut then surely I should be entitled not to be judged as a player purely for being a man.

    Granted this discussion ended five months ago, however your quote still exists; and you've unjustly ripped out its context. I deleted my quote of you some time ago, and I thought [wrongly] that you'd be man enough to do the same.

    Oh well...
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by TML)
    Will, it is out of context and you know it. I was demonstrating that I don't want to be grouped with a lump of rapists in the media just because I have a penis - hence "it's not a man's fault that they have the equipment required for raping". If feminist arguments rely on this argument for words such as slut then surely I should be entitled not to be judged as a player purely for being a man.

    Granted this discussion ended five months ago, however your quote still exists; and you've unjustly ripped out its context. I deleted my quote of you some time ago, and I thought [wrongly] that you'd be man enough to do the same.

    Oh well...
    Oh god, let's not bring this debate up again. I haven't been here for said 5 months so I have yet to update my sig. I'm sure this quotation will disappear some time soon, but until then you have the comfort that I post infrequently so you won't have to see it much.

    If you want to argue the context then take it to PM.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Oh god, let's not bring this debate up again. I haven't been here for said 5 months so I have yet to update my sig. I'm sure this quotation will disappear some time soon, but until then you have the comfort that I post infrequently so you won't have to see it much.
    Will, don't blow this out of proportion. I saw a post of yours, glanced at your signature and then commented that I thought it was out of context. All it takes is a simple removal. I have no intention of bringing the debate up again, don't worry. But equally don't sit there and act as if I'm asking for your wife and kids.
    If you want to argue the context then take it to PM.
    *sigh* :rolleyes:
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yawn)
    Depends on which students you are comparing yourself to.

    If you think you are as intelligent as say the top 10% (which I'll hazard a guess that you do ) you need to get 4 A levels all at A grades.

    We did say that it was between you and someone of comparable ability, didn't we?

    C'mon, Howie...put your money where your mouth is.
    I just have put my money where my mouth is. I bet you $1000 - I'm waiting for you to accept. I don't consider myself a 4 A's at A grade student caliber - that's why I suggested an A & a B. And I don't think you reasonably expect me to do 4 A levels in my spare time do you? Surely not.
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
    Why does nobody seem to realise that the problems are not the exam questions or the syllabus, but the fact that any old monkey can resit them and eventually go up from the C/D that they deserve to an A? That is the disgraceful aspect of the whole thing. There should be no resits until at least 2 years after first taking the exam. Re-takes have completely devalued the system, giving unintelligent people the chance to score A grades across the board.
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Howard)
    I just have put my money where my mouth is. I bet you $1000 - I'm waiting for you to accept. I don't consider myself a 4 A's at A grade student caliber - that's why I suggested an A & a B. And I don't think you reasonably expect me to do 4 A levels in my spare time do you? Surely not.
    But Howard, I thought that you went to Oxford/Cambridge as a student? Surely, then, you are at the same level as a 4 A student.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    You don't need 4 As to get into Cambridge or Oxford.
    Offline

    6
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by TML)
    You don't need 4 As to get into Cambridge or Oxford.
    No, I realise that; I go to the former. But I am pretty sure that the vast majority of people capable of getting in to either of these there would be able to get 4 A grades in subjects of their choice with a minimum of hassle, especially with today's A levels.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Yeh, most probably. It depends how well you were taught and where you were taught and how well your interview goes [etc.] though.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yawn)
    Sorry, kizer - I should have said thirty years, not twenty - since it was in 1987 that the marking was changed from 'norm' referencing to 'criterion' referencing.

    Although most people probably do prefer the comfort of believing that educational standards are falling in this country, they do not actually think that the young people they know are worse educated than their parents.

    I don't think they are worse educated, I think the same level of work is now awarded a higher grade. These are completely different issues, and implying I think educational standards are dropping is simply wrong.

    The evidence suggests that better teaching, which includes better knowledge of how to get pupils through exams, is more important.
    No, it doesn't. The evidence suggests that work of the same standard is now awarded a much higher grade than 20 years ago - there has just been a study done on it:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle2199210.ece

    The fact is that there are only two ways of grading A-levels, or any other test. Either you give A grades to the top 10 per cent each year, or you try to set a standard of work that will gain an A regardless of how many others achieve it. The jargon for the first method is "norm referencing", and it is how A-level grades were set until 1987. It was quite effective at identifying the most academically able, and was therefore useful to the best universities in selecting candidates. But it was widely recognised as unfair for the purposes of looking for jobs: employers wanted to know that students had met a certain standard, not where they came in the pecking order. As standards rose and grades didn't, the pressure grew for change.

    The case for switching to "criterion referencing" was accepted by the then Tory secretary of state for education, Sir Keith Joseph in 1987.
    All very interesting, but irrelevant to what we are talking about.


    All very interesting, but irrelevant to what we are talking about.Any system that tries to compare judgements about people's performances will lead to complaints, appeals and arguments about whether marks are awarded too generously. In practice, however, the "problem" of "too many" A grades, which have grown from 10 per cent to 22 per cent of all passes since 1987, matters to a tiny proportion of the population: the 20,000 out of 270,000 A-level students who get three As, and the best universities, who complain that they cannot distinguish adequately between them. It is a technical problem that will be fixed.
    Firstly, none of this argues against grade inflation, it just asserts it doesn't matter.

    Secondly, your numbers are out of date - 25.3% of A Level papers taken in 2007 got an A grade. And 10% of candidates got AAA or better - out of over 300 000. Meaning that well over 30 000 candidates got over 3As.

    Now you might not think that is a problem, but when you consider that Oxford and Cambridge take about 3000 students each year, with similar numbers for other universities, then you see it really is a problem for distinguishing the best.



    Three options are being considered, although I don't see why exam boards should not simply publish the raw marks on which grades are based.
    They do. But what the raw marks are doesn't really matter, it's whether it is now easier to get marks.


    Of course, allowing resits has also helped the increase in better grades - as has coursework.
    True, but that is an argument in favour of my position - that the same level of work gets a higher grade than before.

    Maybe we should eradicate both resits and coursework from the syllabi. And go back to criterion referencing - all for the sake of 7.4% of the population (oh, hold on...isn't that the same percentage of school students who attend independent schools?) :rolleyes:

    I'm not not really sure what you are saying here (apart from getting your numbers wrong, again - it is 10% of A Level students who get AAA or better. And in fact 14% of A level students are at a private school. Not that that is in any way relevant to what we are talking about.) I don't think we should abolish resits and coursework. I am simply saying that the same level of work now gets a higher grade than previously, and that is a problem.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Will)
    Same thing is trotted out every year by the media, along with (in the words of the Private Eye) plenty of pictures of fruity, college age girls. :rolleyes:
    And what is wrong with that?

    I think the answer has always been 'A levels are not getting easier, but the teaching is becoming more focused at passing the exams and thus we are seeing more success.'
    Do you really think that the proportion of papers graded A has gone up 60% in a decade just because 'teaching is more focussed at passing'? Really?


    Sure, having more people getting great A-levels makes it more difficult for unis to choose, but for that we have interviews, admissions tests and personal statements. I'm pretty certain that a skilled interviewer can see very easily whether a candidate is focused enough, has common sense and hasn't just been trained by the exam machine.
    Harder than you would think actually - how do you rule out the effect of nerves or pressure on candidates? It would be better to have an exam system that was at least fairly capable of picking out the best. Apart from anything else, it is actually unfair to the best students not to give them a way to set themselves apart.
    Offline

    13
    Originally Posted by Howard
    Actually they can't. You may well recall an article a year or so ago written by an Oxford Don in which he complained at having a dozen or more students who on paper at least were all perfect candidates (3 A's or whatever) for a particular degree and yet he had to make a decision based on a 10 minute interview. An Oxford Don is a scholar, not a professional interviewer.
    I'm astounded by that complaint, particularly as it was the dons themselves who insisted they carry on doing the interviews when the suggestion was made that the College admissions office do it, as other unis do.

    You know what they say Howie: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
    Offline

    13
    (Original post by Niccolo)
    Why does nobody seem to realise that the problems are not the exam questions or the syllabus, but the fact that any old monkey can resit them and eventually go up from the C/D that they deserve to an A? That is the disgraceful aspect of the whole thing. There should be no resits until at least 2 years after first taking the exam. Re-takes have completely devalued the system, giving unintelligent people the chance to score A grades across the board.
    I believe that time only allows for one resit - unless of course, one has taken the AS in an earlier year (e.g. year 11) than expected - and even then, most unis expect the A levels to have been completed over two years.. Additionally, some universities will demand higher grade results for conditional offers if an applicant will have spent 3 years in the 6th form to do resits.

    And according to most pundits, resits don't result in appreciable increases in overall grades, unless the candidate is able enough in the first place.

    I'll see if I can find the stats on 'resit' versus 'first sit' results.
    Offline

    13
    (Original post by kizer)
    I don't think they are worse educated, I think the same level of work is now awarded a higher grade. These are completely different issues, and implying I think educational standards are dropping is simply wrong.



    No, it doesn't. The evidence suggests that work of the same standard is now awarded a much higher grade than 20 years ago - there has just been a study done on it:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle2199210.ece



    All very interesting, but irrelevant to what we are talking about.



    Firstly, none of this argues against grade inflation, it just asserts it doesn't matter.

    Secondly, your numbers are out of date - 25.3% of A Level papers taken in 2007 got an A grade. And 10% of candidates got AAA or better - out of over 300 000. Meaning that well over 30 000 candidates got over 3As.

    Now you might not think that is a problem, but when you consider that Oxford and Cambridge take about 3000 students each year, with similar numbers for other universities, then you see it really is a problem for distinguishing the best.





    They do. But what the raw marks are doesn't really matter, it's whether it is now easier to get marks.




    True, but that is an argument in favour of my position - that the same level of work gets a higher grade than before.




    I'm not not really sure what you are saying here (apart from getting your numbers wrong, again - it is 10% of A Level students who get AAA or better. And in fact 14% of A level students are at a private school. Not that that is in any way relevant to what we are talking about.) I don't think we should abolish resits and coursework. I am simply saying that the same level of work now gets a higher grade than previously, and that is a problem.
    You glossed over the point about 'criterion' referencing replacing 'norm' referencing, whilst repeating that the percentages of students who get A grades has increased over the last 30 years since it's inception.

    The glaringly obvious reason why so many students 30 years ago did not get A grades was because there was a quota on the awarding of A grades, not that they didn't know their stuff!!

    If you have a cohort of students with results within a few points of each other, and arbitrarily draw a line to cut off at a certain number of points those who can be awarded A grades, then obviously there is going to be a lower number of such grades awarded.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by cottonmouth)
    That in itself is annoying though isn't it? They realise their line of argument is disingenuous, and so try their damned hardest to look for a new angle.

    Well, there are plenty of subjects where an "A" could be seen to be obtained easily. The rise in more vocational subjects, and the ones with "studies" at the end. BNut it isn't easy to get a top grade in English, History, Maths, etc. These take work. No matter how clever, you do have to actually do the work. I wonder what the increase in top grades was for the "traditionally difficult" subjects was?

    Not that i am slating the other subjects. gin, the difficulty is all relative to the person taking the paper. While i would find Media easy, plenty would not. But then i wanted to do Law at a top university, and not everyone wants that. This bashing of A levels must be some sort of national self-flagellation. Do us Brits really hate ourselves and our kids so much that we will demoralise and patronise to this extent? And then wonder why some of us drop out altogether to get lowly-paid jobs? We are either in school and doing exams that "any old moron" could do, or we are on the streets being berated for not taking the exams that "any old moron" could do. What the these old gits WANT from our generation exactly?
    "National self-flagellation". A wonderful way of putting it. Bravo.

    Yes, it is national flagellation. Our culture is one which encourages the dour and the down right cautious. Traditional middle class England is one which would happily try and sell a product with the tag-line, "Buy X. It's really quite suitable".

    It all feeds back into that national stereotype of institutionalised depreciation. We love scandal in this country, we love to tear people down and examinations provide the perfect oppertunity to achieve this. Not that it is done with some purposeful glee by the examination boards, but that they earnestly believe that a bit of competition might help the medicine of examinations go down.

    Effort is more important than intellect to me. If I can't do something, then I'll bloody well give it my best shot, that way I know, even if the media says that I've accomplished nothing spectacular, I've done a good job of it.

    I took Media Studies A-Level, and whilst you could have passed it easily without much lateral thought, I applied myself to it as a fully fledged academic subject incorporating sociology and social psychology not to mention cinematic anthropology and history. Isn't that the same for any subject? You can pass it, but then again you can pass it with flying colours and that is what I've always tried to do.
    Offline

    13
    There will come a time when the results reach a plateau that cannot be improved upon because some students just don't have the innate ability to get beyond a certain point in certain subjects.

    Then we can expect to hear outrage over lack of progress, as we do with Key stage 2 results that have now reached this plateau. :rolleyes:
    Offline

    13
    There is much more talk and encouragement of 'aspiring' within education today.

    A student will achieve and attain when they have the aspirations to do so.

    Let's carry on encouraging our younger students to aspire to the best that they possibly can, and stop limiting them with interpretation of their attainments as being because it is easier to attain.

    Urgggh....:mad:

    edit: Two further points that has been overlooked:

    There has been no noticeable increase in top grades in less academic subjects. However, in subject such as Maths, Physics, French and German, the increases are year on year. Now, despite the fact that there has been a drop overall in candidates taking these subjects in recent years, the top grades have gone up substantially, therefore taking the overall statistics of total subjects upwards too. The reason that candidates for these subjects are doing so well? Because schools do not want to enter them (due to 'performance' league tables competition) they are not entered unless they have a very good chance of getting the top grades? Because those who take these subjects, take them because they are very good at them anyway because they are the brightest students?

    and...

    "In terms of the proportion of people who get grade A, the gap between selective schools and independent schools on the one hand and other school types on the other hand has widened," he said.

    Over the past five years the proportion of A grades awarded to pupils from independent schools has risen by 6.5%. The rate in comprehensive schools is 3%. Dr Cresswell said: "There would not be differences like this if the exams were getting easier.
 
 
 
Poll
Brexit: Given the chance now, would you vote leave or remain?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.